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Why OLED lighting will soon shine on you


Undecided about whether to buy LED-based lights instead of compact fluorescent bulbs? Get ready to have some more uncertainty in your life, because another new lighting technology has just arrived: OLED.

Where LED (light-emitting diode) lighting uses small, intensely bright sources of light, which are typically made to look like traditional light bulbs, OLED (organic light-emitting diode) lighting uses flat, dimmer sources of light, essentially resulting in a glowing square or rectangle. Steady advances in manufacturing technology have made OLEDs bright and long-lived enough to use, and now they're going mainstream.

Because OLED panels are not piercingly bright, they can be mounted in fixtures seen directly by the eye; there's no need for reflectors or diffusers to cut the glare. The approach also opens new options for lighting designs.

OLED technology is at a premium relative to LED, but there are superior lighting quality benefits. The overall design and construction of these luminaires is very high quality, reflective of the superior nature of the OLED light source.

OLED lighting elements have a lifespan of about 30,000 to 40,000 hours of use -- a bit less than LEDs that can reach 50,000 hours, but still more than quadruple what compact fluorescent bulbs offer.

Dominance to come?

OLED will become mainstream. We believe that OLED lighting has the potential to dominate many of the residential and commercial market applications.
Energy efficiency and new designs will provide the impetus, with OLED and LED lighting coexisting because of different advantages.
Inherent energy efficiency advantages are a key benefit in the lighting market, but there is the potential for OLEDs to be transformational as well. OLEDs will present lighting products in a new form factor, which will expand the design possibilities and change the way we use light in many environments.

Next up: Colors and lower costs

Prices might be higher now, but they'll drop in coming years.
We're looking at the cost of OLED being maybe a tenth of what it is today in about five years. referring to the price of the panel components themselves. Even as entry-level OLED lighting fixture prices drop, though, some products will continue to come with premium pricing as OLED lighting makers embrace the interactive element of the nascent LED lighting industry. There, smartphone apps and smart-home devices add new controls, new costs and new profit possibilities to the lighting market.
As technology integrates into homes, there are advances all over the place, like security systems and thermostats. People are expecting a lot more interaction and integration with other devices, like the ability to control things remotely when people aren't at home.
Another premium option that will arrive is colored OLED panels, though the cost is too high and color saturation too low right now. These will provide light whose color can be changed according to mood, time of day or other factors.
We definitely see opportunities for that, not only in the consumer arena but commercially as well. There's huge interest -- corporate interiors, healthcare environments, education facilities. There are a lot of potential applications where color-tuning makes sense.

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