research vs. product development

kevin houser, assoc. professor | university of nebraska-lincoln

It is important to distinguish between 'research' and 'product development.' Research implies scholarly or scientific inquiry and tends to be aimed at the greater good of an industry or society at large. Product development has different motivations and outcomes: it is driven by the potential for profit. The state of product development is healthy. The state of lighting research is not. Just as a rising tide lifts all boats, there are many basic research questions that, if answered, would benefit society at large and lighting product development in particular. Take spectral content as one example. I've listened to people passionately argue that continuous spectra like that from daylight and incandescent lamps are essential for visual and biological health. Yet I've heard others argue just as passionately that spiky spectra with gaps are more effective. This is a fundamental question that could guide the spectral design of electric light sources, yet the existing body of knowledge is incomplete and conflicting.

We need a collective commitment to the greater good to answer such questions. But this is not just philanthropy; the answer would address a practical goal. Light sources that are spectrally tuned to the visual system will be more sustainable. They will use less energy by generating their output in regions of the spectrum where the visual system responds most strongly, resulting in better seeing for building users. This example reinforces the difference between research and product development. At present, tens of millions of dollars are spent on increasing the luminous efficacy of LEDs; this is product development. Little is invested in understanding how LED spectra could be optimized to benefit vision; this would be research.

lighting research lacks resources

martin moeck, asst. professor | pennsylvania state university

Lighting research in the United States is very poor, for the following reasons: Research requires large laboratories, which are expensive Research requires supercomputers, or at least extensive large-scale lighting simulation. Most lighting scientists lack access and the training to use them Research requires lighting systems measurement in buildings over extended periods of time. This is called monitoring, and is expensive The Department of Energy does not fund basic lighting research. Neither does the National Science Foundation Companies spend more money on patent litigation than they do on research The IESNA has no money for research, and hardly any readers to read lighting research journals Lamp research has become separate from lighting research. The big lamp research conferences are in Europe and Japan, and are no longer part of the IALD or IESNA. Most lighting researchers know little about lamp development Research has not proven significant effects by different lighting scenarios on health, productivity, attention, and sales LED research is hardly possible, because one company has over 10,000 general patents, which limits new development owing to royalties The big lamp manufacturers do not sponsor university research The number of lighting educators and scientists is declining. It is almost half of what it was 10 years ago, considering the number of students.

a state of transition

fred oberkircher, assoc. professor and director, tcu center for lighting education | texas christian university

To paraphrase a famous line from the movie Casablanca, let's round up the usual suspects. There's Cal Poly, Colorado, Nebraska, Penn State, the Lighting Research Center, and ... Some would suggest that the number of research centers roughly equals the amount of research money available. And if you listen carefully, you don't hear the sound of money.

There is another story, however. A review of the 'hot' topics suggests that funding is moving to issues such as non-visual effects, solid-state lighting, and energy-reduction efforts. It could be argued that these are not 'true' lighting areas. There is research in chrono-biology, solid-state electronics, and nano-engineering-all areas on the far, far periphery of lighting as we typically think of it.

If the initial question were 'What is the state of lighting in the United States?'-I believe the answer would be 'In a state of transition.' And I believe lighting research reflects that. The difficulty is that research agendas are not easily changed. The assembly of faculty, staff, and equipment-let alone money-takes a long time. Based on this, let's try one last question. 'Can traditional lighting research in the United States change fast enough to prevent its own obsolescence?'

demands unanswered

bruce hostetter, lighting designer | realight design

I don't truthfully know what the state of research is in the United States. According to 'Vision 2020: The Lighting Technology Roadmap,' a white paper prepared by the Department of Energy, we need more. My question for manufacturers is this: Why have we never seen a cross-over between automotive headlight technology and architectural products? Where's my instant-restrike metal halide battery-powered emergency light? Where are my molded headlight assemblies that I would like to adapt as combination downlight/wallwashers? Why does it appear that there is more R&D in the automotive sector than in the architectural lighting sector? And why do linear companies like Ledalite continue to innovate, when others focus on new housings?