I’ve recently been working with Isotera – a Cambridge SME that has a novel system for powering LED lighting fixtures. LEDs are rapidly gaining market share, but have not yet achieved their full market potential as they are often let down by the systems which provide them with power. LEDs usually rely on either laborious manual wiring or expensive modular systems to link fixtures together, with DC power provided by units called drivers. These drivers are either expensive or unreliable. All too often, the drivers installed with lighting fixtures fail, long before the end of the life of the LEDs themselves. Isotera has come up with an elegant application of an existing technology. The Isotera system transforms mains current from 50 Hz to 50 kHz. This high frequency current can then be easily and safely drawn off through induction – the same process which is used to power iPods and toothbrushes, with no need to damage the insulation on the wires, removing the need for time consuming wiring and expensive equipment.
I organised and attended an exhibition with Isotera in London this month. We had a range of companies visiting the stand – from LED manufacturers to electrical contractors. Everyone was given the opportunity to play with the system, so they could see how quick and easy it is to fit and power LED lights. One electrician complained that it was so simple, we were going to put him out of business. The Japanese spelling for the word “crisis” is actually made up of two other symbols. One is for “danger”, the other is for “opportunity”. Perhaps my electrician should look to the Japanese for his inspiration. Here is an opportunity for him – wire up a lighting system for a fraction of the price, in a quarter of the time. If that’s not a differentiator, I don’t know what is.
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