Sunday’s New York Times included an article on how far lighting design has come in today’s automobiles. At the forefront of the innovation has been LED lights, which use less power relative to the lumens they produce. Automotive lighting is particularly interesting because its one of the early test cases for using advanced sensors to automatically adjust lighting. Many high tech car lighting systems can adjust lights based on whether the driver is turning or how far another car is from the driver.
LEDs are too expensive for the mainstream right now, though some ambitious startups like Digital Lumens are working on service like offerings to provide packages of sensors and processors that will be built around a lighting system. Digital Lumens can then manage the system remotely and earn monthly fees, saving its customers the large up front capital costs.
We’re seeing the service model right now in everything from solar panels (SolarCity) to fuel cells (Bloom Energy). It’s one way cleantech companies can get their products in the hands of customers quickly and also has the convenient by product of pulling in customers for longer term commitments. Ikea has decided it’ll go all LED by 2016, and who knows, we may just see a revolution in low power lighting.