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Cree and Innovation in Lighting
Innovation is hard in the lighting industry. If you push people forward to hard too fast you lose them, but without constantly improving, you become stagnant. Cree isn’t afraid to push us to think differently about what lighting can be and to make us think about different form factors to accomplish traditional goals. Here are two ways Cree is changing the game when it comes to LED Illumination.
Let’s start with the obvious. LED is a point source. The chips sit flat on a board and project light in one direction. From an engineering standpoint it’s relatively easy to harness that light into something like a spot light or a track head (though some companies do this better than others), but it’s much more difficult to create ambient light fixtures that produce enough light without generating the subsequent glare.
To solve this problem, Cree has developed a patented optical technology called WaveMax. This series of tiny reflectors and refracting optics guide the light out of the point source LED and into desired patterns, because the light source is obscured there is no perceivable glare.
Take a look at this very raw sketch of mine from our recent training session:
What you’re looking at is the wave pattern generated in the wing of the LN suspended ambient fixture. And here’s what that wing actually looks like:
The fixture itself is a 4’ suspending linear pendant.
* 32 Watts
* 3700 Delivered Lumens (60% up / 40% down) (115 lumens per watt!)
* 3500K or 4000K
* 90+ CRI
* 0-10V standard / Smartcast compatible dimming
* 10 Year Warranty
* Single fixture or continuous row mounting
WaveMax will be finding it’s way into many more form factors in the coming year, but it’s already in the IG parking garage fixture.
Smartcast has been around for a couple of years, but it’s getting some important new updates. Here’s the primer.
There are basically two flavors of Smartcast at this point. The traditionally powered line voltage series which uses standard power lines and the new SmartCast PoE (more on that in a second).
Traditional SmartCast uses an encrypted WiFi technology to establish a communication network between fixtures. The fixtures are then grouped automatically to create energy code compliant vacancy and daylight harvesting modes. No extra control wires, and no complex commissioning. Here are two videos that break it down.
Beyond this system, Cree has pushed Smartcast to the next level by delivering a Power over Ethernet or PoE solution. PoE solutions move lighting from a closed system into a system connected to IoT (Internet of Things) solutions. Each fixture on the PoE network is it’s own device. Electricity and control signals are delivered over a single ethernet cable which can be run from a single hub. This allows the lighting system to directly interface with other building systems like security, HVAC, even digital displays.
Cree has also developed an open API for their control software, allowing anyone to write software to create interfaces or analytics tools that work with the system.
PoE is one of those “on the verge” technologies that is poised to change lighting all over again. Want to learn more? Cree has created a great white paper on where it sees the industry going.
2017 is going to be a big year for Cree, we’re looking forward to a series of new product rollouts over the course of the year. Stay tuned, we can’t wait to share the innovation.