Innovative product musings

Product innovation - part art, part science. When done right, it creates leverage, enabling innovations in small teams to shift entire industries.

Light+Building 2016 - More than you imagine

Light+Building is a bi-annual tradeshow of quite epic proportions - "big" does not begin to describe it. It fills up the entire Frankfurt Messe (and then some as there are several off-site events and private demonstrations). As the name suggests, it's about lighting and building technology - the electrical kind. Everything from fuses to home automation. I was there for three full days and I just about covered the lighting side.

I'm not attempting to give a full review of what I saw - not even close. And sadly, at least to me, 90% of what's on display looks pretty generic - if you have seen one downlight you have pretty much seen all of them.

That's not to say there aren't innovation at the show, there sure is. But most exhibitors do a pretty poor job of highlighting what's unique and valuable about their products. But with thousands of exhibitors, that still leaves a hundred or so with some cool stuff to highlight - here we go!

I started in Hall 10 where most of the Asian suppliers are - some of their chosen brand names are a bit dubious by western references. How about Leedarson, Creep LED and Lemon?

Light sabre anyone?


There were a large number of optics suppliers at the show and the trend towards better beam control with less spill and less glare was very evident and welcome.

Several companies were showing massive LED lenses, some as big as team mugs. An up and coming lens material is LSR (Liquid Silicon Rubber) - no, they don't bounce but they have superior UV stability (important in outdoor installations) as well as a very wide temperature range.

Keeping the cool

LEDs are getting brighter day by day, efficacies are now typically well over 100lm/w and in some cases approaching 200lm/w. But we need the "watts" to get the "lumens" and that means pushing in a lot electrical energy. Despite the much improved efficacies, most of that energy is converted to heat and must be dissipated away from the LED chips themselves.

Shenzhen Fluence Technology (a k a PC Cooler) had some very beefy coolers based primarily on heat-pipe technology (as used in high performance PC's)

Tons of Lumens!

Flip Chip Opto with their 2400W (yes, really) LED arrays used big-boy coolers (about 15" / 380mm across) and reflectors to show of their stadium-class light sources to great effect.

Small is also beautiful

The lighting fixture that impressed me the most was also the smallest one. A tiny (think small shot glass) soft-edged and with variable beam size (turn the ring) LED spotlight with barndoors from Florida based Luxam - not cheap but it didn't feel cheap either. A precision lighting instrument I'd say!

Fade to warm

The "new black" in LED lighting is tuneable white, being able to change the color temperature to match other sources or just for the effect.

One such product that impressed me with was the Ai Cove from Acclaim Lighting. This is compact and affordable fixture that emulates quite well the reduction in color temperature of halogen as it dims. At it dims very nice and smoothly too.

OLED where art thou?

OLED - Organic LED was the buzzword a few Light+Building back. It's still around but it's getting kicked out of the mainstream applications by the rapidly increasing efficacy of regular LED and the dramatic drop in cost of the same. Still, there are some niché applications for OLED does really well - LG is one of the remaining champions of OLED (not just in TV's) and they had very nice "retail" oriented stand which I though presented OLED lighting really well.

Eye Candy

The stand of French creative studio Bybeau was well attended - well not really as it was full of their "Dimple" a stunning colour changing glass drop. The aisle outside their stand was usually totally blocked by people viewing and taking pictures or videos. Really beautiful, well executed.


Media Façades - where Light + Building actually meets

There were a few companies showing various media façade solutions but nothing out of the ordinary - except for Austrian company MultiVision who had created a very clever surface with ledges that incorporated white LED pixels that up-lit the surface above it. Hard to explain, hopefully the pictures will clarify! The end result was a smooth, easy on the eyes image that looked almost like a projection.

BIllion Dollar Boys

If you're a really really BIG company, then you don't just book a stand, you book a hall or at least a few thousand square meters of one. This was the case with the "Festhalle" hall that was home of industry giants Philips, Osram and Zumtobel. There was some products to see but mainly it was a big social club with the purpose of showing the power and glory of these giants. It seemed to work, plenty of people, the beer and coffee flowed freely too!

Below - the Osram section that launched their new brand Ledvance.

There was a lot more to see, more than I have time and energy to report here but you are curious about something in particular, just drop me a line at and maybe I can point you in the right direction. Always happy to help!

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