Another New Kid on the Conference Block

Please note that this week’s editorial for LIGHTimes and SSL Design is authored by our president/CEO, Tom Griffiths, who also serves as publisher of SSL Design… JMcD

The press release hit my desk with a ‘thunk’ and I thunked I was gonna hit
it back. (Well technically, it slipped in as a stream of electrons in 1’s and
0’s, but you know what I mean). The
LED Leadership Summit
was announced (November 27-29 in San Diego, California).
Hello? Where did this come from? Seemed nefarious from the outset. I mean, how
could there be a leadership gig running below our somewhat amazing industry
radar scope? So I make the calls that managing editors, publishers and chief
bottle washers tend to do when something seems amiss. “Yeah, someone
pointed it out to me,
” reports one industry insider, “and it
looks pretty much like it’s actually a private deal that will be a bunch of
product commercials.
” Being on the organizer side of several LED/SSL
and related events, I knew what that meant. When you bill it as an industry
conference and a speaker slips through and presents a commercial for his or
her company, the rotten vegetables start flying and the speaker is not the primary
target (although they don’t get invited back… ever). “Don’t we have
enough conferences already?
” I whined. That was short lived, as I realized
the question led me towards a decent topic that needed some examination of its
own in a future column.

Another call or two, an email here and there, some skeptical questions thrown
at a fairly not-guilty PR guy and then some answers fell into place. More of
a paradigm shift, really. The point of the affair was not another industry
conference but more of an ‘exo-industry’ conference to start broadly preaching
the longer term vision of what solid state lighting can do. The framing thought
for me that made the connection developed into, “If the facilities visioneers
for Trump’s properties knew 2 years ago what kinds of solutions SSL could offer
5 years down the road, what would the effect be on the design of that
high end property that gets completed 3 years from now?
” (Read it twice.
I had to). To date, our industry conferences have concentrated on what’s happening
over the next 6-18 months, with some longer term market projections,
but really not much past that. Specific product discussions can get fairly meaningless
at that horizon, and ‘the vision thing’ doesn’t put much bread on today’s table.

Luxeon High Power

Back to the question of those theoretical Trump visioneers, the answer
is “Potentially, it could change nearly everything.” As I hear
it, the number one heat generator in any commercial or light industrial space
is the lighting. If you take the heat out of the light (LEDs generate a lot
less as a result of ‘the efficiency thing’, and generate virtually none in the
beam itself) then you need a lot less energy and space budget for air conditioning.
If your room lighting has the choice of not just on/off/dim, but on/off/dim/hue,
and that hue is controllable, it’s a whole new set of tools that are presented
to the space designers. And don’t think the ‘science of the casino’ folks won’t
be making use of controlling the wavelengths of light to further fool the body
clocks of their dedicated customers. (“Dude, I did 20 hours straight
at the blackjack table and only lost one of my cars.
“) Will marketing
miss out on selling the fact you can tune the ambience of your room to Maui
Sunset, even if you’re on the sunrise side of the hotel?

All right, it makes sense to share the vision, but what qualifies the
volume leader LED manufacturers who are sponsoring this particular meet (Lumileds,
Nichia, Osram Opto, Cree, Toyoda Gosei. known around advanced LED circles as
“The Big 5”), to make the vision pitch to the intended big end users?
Shouldn’t the lighting companies be the ones doing that instead? I drew the
analogy to Intel and AMD pitching the benefits of the PC, instead of the real
PC makers like Dell, IBM, and HP. One answer I got hit home, “When Intel
started to offer it’s microprocessor, IBM and HP were insisting that mini-computers
were the only solution for business and that those so-called ‘personal’ computers
were for hobbyists and people who liked to play Pong.
” You have to
understand the potential of the component to sell it as the future, and right
now, the LED suppliers are a prime source of the vision.

The LED Leadership Conference’s goals make sense, and I hope this meet
draws the right set of attendees. Those of us in the solid state lighting supply
chain (materials and machines up through arrays and fixtures) aren’t the main
audience for this one, which is why the event has taken an invitation-based
approach. Space is limited, so the hope is to fill it with a combination of
top level users from the Walmarts, McDonalds, Neiman-Marcus and General Motors,
as well as with key folks inside the SSL supply-chain. At $4000 a ticket,
room at San Diego’s famed Hotel del Coronado and full VIP treatment included,
you can be sure they know why they came, and common sense suggests the
audience won’t take kindly to a technical infomercial. (That handles the only
remaining concern from when the news first thunked on my desk.) The event has
set up a wait-list approach in hopes of capturing users that their invitation
list may have missed, so if you think you’ve been missed, pop yourself on the
list. We’ll all look forward to a post-event “mission accomplished”
report that might be a helpful step to that brighter future the world needs
and that the industry is banking on.

Tom Griffiths
Publisher, SSL Design

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