The technological advances transforming “Edison’s 130-year-old industry” promise to revolutionize the way light is integrated in our homes, workplaces, and cities.

As “the last industrial-age analog technology” is digitized, Felicity Barringer looks at “the fundamental rethinking of lighting now under way in research labs, executive offices and investor conferences.”

"Innovations on the horizon range from smart lampposts that can sense gas hazards to lights harnessed for office productivity or even to cure jet lag. Digital lighting based on light-emitting diodes — LEDs — offers the opportunity to flit beams delicately across stages like the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge — creating a light sculpture more elegant than the garish marketers’ light shows on display in Times Square, Piccadilly Circus and the Shibuya district in Tokyo."

She explains other possible applications, such as lampposts that function as “nodes in a smart network that illuminate spaces, visually monitor them, sense heat and communicate with other nodes and human monitors.”

"James Highgate, an expert on the new technology who runs an annual LED industry conference, sees a transition period ahead ‘for the next three to five years, until the eight billion sockets in the U.S. get filled’ with LEDs. ‘Some people will never change,’ he added. ‘They’ll be in the alleys buying 100-watt incandescents.’”

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