For someone who professes not to be a “lighting person,” George Mueller has been awfully successful in the lighting arena—the solid-state lighting arena to be exact. Co-founder of Color Kinetics (in 1997) with Carnegie Mellon engineering classmate Ihor Lys, Mueller led the company to astounding success, culminating in its sale to Philips in 2007. Not one to rest on his laurels, Mueller launched EcoSense Lighting in May 2009. This time around his focus is on white light, fueled by a continued desire to bring credibility to an industry whose light-speed growth is its best—and worst—attribute. A passionate entrepreneur and an inquisitive technologist, Mueller seems poised for the next round of success.
What excites you about SSL? The opportunity that this new semiconductor-based technology presents; it's replacing the old brass, gas, and glass.
Is SSL under a different kind of scrutiny than other light sources? It's considered a disruptive technology, meaning it has usurped market share. Over the next five, 10, 20 years the traditional lighting market is going to give way to LEDs in some significant manner.
How does sustainability factor into the SSL discussion? I look at it from the efficiency angle and the ability to cut down on the replacement of hundreds of bulbs over the lifetime of a comparable LED product.
Why does SSL appear to be resilient in this economy? There is a significant opportunity to be more energy efficient right now. Today's corporate mandate requires companies respond to “green.” If you can save on operational costs, large companies are going to take notice.
What do you say to designers who are frustrated by LEDs? When you have a reputation for quality and delivering on the performance that you achieve, then you gain the respect and trust of the designer. That's what we are looking to carry over into the new company, EcoSense.
What can be done to maintain good faith in this technology? Bolstering testing procedures and standards is a first step. The difficulty is that the road map is moving so quickly, and yet, that's the excitement of it; we'll have more efficient, better performing fixtures in as little as a year.