Lighting trends: LEDs ups and downs in 2016

Article By : Carolyn Mathas

Manufacturers already sell passive HCL bulbs and active HCL systems for residential use, but more research on the benefits of HCL is required before it takes off.

Analysts at IHS have recapped the events and challenges that have shaped the LED industry—so far—in 2016. Spanning the challenges of plummeting LED prices, the premium beyond-light LED products that are hitting the market, market consolidation woes, and the popularity of quantum dot technology, the report has something for everyone interested in LEDs.

According to Alice Tao, senior analyst, LEDs, the last year represented a myriad of challenges to the LED industry. General lighting prices continued to plummet, penetration remained below 10% in 2015, and the gems of the industry included such areas as automotive exterior lighting and Internet plus lighting where, “LEDs are used for more than just illumination.” Tao actually delivers a grim view of most of the market.

Fabian Hoelzenbein, senior analyst, lighting, joins Tao in reviewing the price pressures and realities affecting sales when delivering a long-life product, but discusses the “more than illumination” aspect as well. Hoelzenbein discusses smart lighting, data transmission, and human-centric lighting (HCL), including the re-discovery of a third photoreceptor in the human eye and its impact on lighting—an interesting discussion. According to the report, manufacturers already sell passive HCL bulbs and active HCL systems for residential use to allow consumers to light their homes in a way their brains would naturally expect, but more research on the benefits of HCL is required before it takes off.

Jamie Fox, principal analyst, lighting and LEDs, offers his opinions as to who will stay and who will go. Looking at the industry from a 50,000-foot global view, Fox looks at who will exit, and the possibility for acquisitions. The report mentions that no new big players are likely to enter the field, but mergers and acquisitions are possible, and “at least one big player [will] either exit the market or downscale its business.” Also discussed are the materials—silicon, GaN substrates, and sapphire—and what is expected during 2016 regarding market viability.

Mike Hornung, smart lighting analyst, delivers a bit more of a positive bent when discussing what’s next for quantum dots. Used in display and TV applications, the technology is now moving into other industry segments that will most likely justify the higher price tag involved. The advantage of quantum dots is that they can be manufactured to emit any colour in the visible spectrum, opening up possible uses in HCL, and optimal lighting for plants and animals.

All in all, the report is a good overview and come-on to more substantive IHS coverage of lighting. More in-depth data though, of course, is relegated to pay-per-research offered by the company. What it does deliver, however, is a good overview of each of these areas, as well as their general take on the near-term realities of the industry.

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