LIGHTFAIR’s 2015 Innovation Awards

By Mark Godfrey

Every year, just before the Lightfair International show floor opens to the general public, the organizers host the Innovation Awards to introduce the coolest, most innovative and groundbreaking products of the year. This event is a great opportunity to get an overview of the show and to put a plan together for walking the floor. Most editions of the Innovation Awards have demonstrated the slow evolution of technology and improvements to efficacy and performance with the occasional reveal of a beautiful luminaire design. This year’s event presented the audience with a couple of rather nice surprises.

In past editions of the Innovation Awards, the program was not unlike the Oscars with contender introductions in each category followed by “opening the envelope”, a stage moment for the winner and then moving to the next category. This process would often take 90 minutes to 2 hours. The organizers for 2015 elected to move toward a more efficient program by moving straight to the major awards. This program format is a real winner. It marries the sense of pomp and circumstance from the longer programs of the past with the efficient timeline requested by many attendees over the years. So surprise number one is a resounding success.

As this year’s edition of the Innovation Awards moved through the program, we were all impressed with the volume and dramatic progress of very innovative and ground breaking technologies on display in 2015. In fact, I have never seen such adoption of technology into the lighting industry. These technologies include consumer products with mesh network technology integrated into replacement lamps, wireless network integration over WiFi for both consumer and professional equipment, Bluetooth communication with individual luminaires and active lumen and color management integral to replacement lamps and luminaires. Check out the whole list of contenders and winners here.

As the show progressed, we were all pleasantly surprised with the unannounced Key Note presentation by inventor, designer and architect Chuck Hoberman. Mr. Hoberman spoke about his career creating objects that transform, expand and change in whimsical or functional ways. He has worked on a variety of objects from a simple expanding toy sphere to an articulating roof structure of a professional sports stadium. As he presented his story it became clear that transformation and adaptation is a very natural process for him personally, his firm and his products. His focus over the years has evolved from toy scale objects to large moving assemblies for theater and stage performances, and most recently to building scale transformations. It’s worth a few minutes at his website to see how wonderful and different his work really is.

The final award of the day was presented to a very deserving winner, Osram, for their demonstration product, OmniPoint. This downlight embodies the transformative ideas discussed by Mr. Hoberman with remarkable integration of technology into an otherwise ubiquitous legacy lighting form factor. Watch the video:


Here are my 5 favorite award winners of 2015:

#5 – Osram Sylvania’s OSLON LED chip, specifically designed for use in horticultural applications, produces specific wavelengths of light energy to promote plant growth. With new “agriculture” markets in Colorado, Oregon, Washington as well as other states in the near future, we think Osram hit a home run with this product.

#4 – Hatch Lighting’s DigiSwitch dual LED driver. An industry giant finally acknowledges that the LED chip itself is not the point of failure in a system that has rated life span of 50,000 to 100,000 hours. With two drivers within a single enclosure and designed to instantly switch from driver A to B when A fails provides a measure of confidence for both the specifier and the luminaire manufacturer. One has to wonder if lighting equipment will outlive the facility?

#3 – IESNA RP-33-14 Lighting for Exterior Environments. The IES has needed to adopt the International Dark Sky (IDA) Model Lighting Ordinance (MLO) for some time. This Recommended Practice does just that.

#2 – LBL Lighting and the Xterna LED suspended linear luminaire. See the product, then see Chuck Hoberman’s work described above. This is a wonderfully playful luminaire appropriate to many applications and spaces.

#1 – Osram OmniPoint downlight. As I described above, this product demonstrates the real potential of solid state LED lighting and I think this is just scratching the surface of possibilities. Although it presents itself in a the form of “Legacy” downlight luminaire design, this is anything but Legacy. I was able to spend almost an hour with the Osram team in their booth in an effort to try and understand the implications of this product. To put it simply, the magic is in the software and Osram has made the first significant leap from pipe and wire lighting equipment to digital equipment and software enabled lighting devices. Osram rightfully won the 2015 Lightfair Innovation of the Year Award with this product. This could be considered the best innovation of the decade. I will write about this and other digital lighting solutions in more detail with my next blog.

Veronika Batho-Demelius of O- Lighting Design both contributed to this blog.

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