Lightfair 2004 proved one thing: the lighting industry has LEDs on the brain. Of the record 222 products entered in the annual New Product Showcase, more than 50 were LED specific. Perhaps more significantly, judges named LED-based products as winners in 9 of the 25 categories. In other words, more than a third of the potential areas for innovation (as designated by the showcase's advisory committee) are seeing successful developments using this technology. Responding to the Exchange question posed by A|L in the March 2004 issue ('What is the future of LEDs?'), designers and manufacturers alike stated that it is only a matter of time before the obstacles currently faced by LEDs-such as white light and price point-are overcome. Given the sheer number of new LED products at Lightfair, it seems this may be sooner rather than later.

More projects are providing evidence of the merits of LEDs. The site of this year's Lightfair, Las Vegas is also home to a case in point, the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino. The venue recently underwent a conversion from its existing exterior lighting system to one lamped with LEDs. The two previous lighting systems had been a trade off between lamp life and color, explains Hard Rock lighting designer Warwick Stone. It took five mock-ups, but the team was finally convinced that an LED solution could achieve the 100-foot throw on the façade with a CRI similar to the existing metal halide lamp system. The building's 120-foot façade is illuminated with 60 custom fixtures designed by specialty lighting company 4Wall using Color Kinetics ColorBlast technology. The individual fixtures comprise a custom housing, two power supplies, and five ColorBlast 12 units, each with a bottom-frosted lens that casts a wide beam angle and a top clear lens to maximize the upward throw of light. The LED system offered a longer lamp life and new creative options to achieve the color changing effects. Even more compelling were the estimated cost savings. The LED-based units will draw about $1,900 in electricity per year as compared to the approximately $18,000 it cost to operate the metal halide lamps. In addition, the maintenance cost per each LED unit is estimated at only $600 as opposed to the approximately $25,000 spent to maintain the metal halide lamps.