Invention and intellectual property company Rambus has had its difficulties over the past few years, and garnered an unfortunate reputation in the media as something of a patent troll, but the firm is determined to change its image by making good on its technology inventions.
At CES the firm was showing off two technologies; a completely reinvented LED lightbulb with an open top to allow for thermal dissipation, and a mobile TV platform which combines visual search with a plethora of social features.
Rambus said its LED lightbulb design combined high efficiency with longevity and ease-of-use, designed to provide consumers with the quality and lighting distribution of traditional incandescent bulbs using close to one-quarter the power and lasting up to 25 times longer.
The firm said the bulbs were also unique in terms of their “fundamentally different” design, which includes an open top to allow for thermal dissipation.
The bulb family also boasts Rambus’ MicroLens optical technology, allowing for the use of a cylindrical light guide inside the bulb to produce a consistent, spherical distribution of light. MicroLens optics are already used in backlighting cell phones, computer screens, televisions and other displays.
Rambus said it has also designed the bulbs to have a very low bill of materials, ensuring the product would cost less than any other bulb on the market.
Since Rambus only deals in IP, the firm has partnered with a Canadian company out of Montreal, called Elite, to bring the bulbs to big retail stores in North America within the next two quarters.
“That is the new model of Rambus; to license technology and patents when appropriate, but also to bring that into product,” noted Jerome Nadel, Rambus’ CMO.
At CES, Rambus was also showing off its new Imerz platform which combines visual search with a plethora of social features.
The firm said it saw mobile as a replacement for television and that Imerz would allow consumers to interact with and access “over the top” video in a personalized, immersive way. That includes being able to connect one’s mobile to the TV and use the handheld almost like a remote control. It also allows for on-screen interactivity with video and broadcast content, including frame-by-frame synchronization of temporal/spatial tags for story-telling, product information and e-commerce content tagging.
Paint 'em any way you want, they will always be a patent troll at heart.
That aside, When I see anything LED in commercial lighting products, all I think of measured amounts of arsenic, lead, and mercury being dumped into our landfills. Yet these "green" lights are shoved down the public's throats under the guise of being "environmentally responsible".
I would venture to say that by definition of "LED", there must be these toxic materials in this new bulb,unless Rambus re-invented that too, but there is no mention of it so I assume not. I will stick with traditional old fashioned bulbs until they either don't make them anymore, or until a truly non-toxic, more efficient form of lighting evolves.
I doubt that even making a convenient waste collection method would stop the majority of people from just tossing non-functioning bulbs in the trash can. As far as I know, not much of an attempt has been made to educate the public about this, other than printing a warning on the bulb's packaging when new (which gets discarded at the beginning of the bulb's service life so is not of much use).
RAMBUS wants to present the idea that they are just wanted to be helpful but the reality is they make money by creating patents on anything they can slide by the patent office. There are numerous other players making LED lighting and I am sure the others are smart enough to persue minimal part count as a cost savings measure. Light guides are nothing new, everyone is looking at how they can get to light generated out to the space to be lit.
RAMBUS is trying to make sure they have patents on any method someone might use to improve LED lighting so they can make money off the companies who are actually doing real engineering work and producing real products. LED lighting is not going to be most cost completitive by adding licensing fees into the mix.
I see one significant issue: dust. If the bulb faces upwards, this open bulb will be a dust collector. Traditional convex bulbs get a little dust that either rolls off or offends the homeowner enough to dust it off. Here the dust will be hidden inside in the heat generating cavity... At best it will insulate and cause overheating. At worst?
With most suppliers adopting non-lead solder that should rarely be in a bulb .. that is a simple regulatory fix as well. Not sure where you are seeing mercury in an LED light?
While there are trace amounts of arsenic in LED, this is embedded into the semiconductor material and not easily released.
Keep in mind your traditional "non-toxic" bulb required 4+ times more generation capacity .. often coal, and that releases way more mercury, arsenic, and a whole host of other toxins into the environment.
Given the long life of LED too, the low embodied energy / lumen-hour, less shipping (and related energy), etc. makes an LED bulb way way less toxic than an incandescent bulb.
Oh great, yet another light bulb .... How many companies think they can actually be successful in this market? How many companies, established and otherwise are already competing for space on Home-Depot's shelf?
Big market? Yes. Commoditized quickly with rapidly falling margins ... yes too. There are so many more interesting markets for LED lighting.
Replace the common light bulb is not the best use of LEDs as it make heat dissipation a real challenge and as DrQuine points out with RAMBUS's design the dust will get into the places you can't get it out of.
New Fixtures with plenty of room to dissipate not only the heat from the LEDs but from the controlling circuits would promote greater reliability without resorting to patented (added cost) methods. But every LED based fixture I have seen on the market of any substantial light output is substantially higher in price than other fixtures of a similar capacity.
I currently have 20 LEDs bulbs of various types running in my home. Every time a bulb burns out it gets replaced with an LED light. But I have had two failures that occured in less than 6 months. The latest one lasted about 3 weeks and damaged the light socket from the heat when it failed and produced enough smoke and smell to make my wife feel unsafe with the bulbs.
If a lower voltage and lower maximum current flow power source were available in the home (say 48VAC 10A MAX) to drive the LED lighting it would make the electrics for the fixture more reliable and reduce the potential damage in cases like I experienced.
Rewiring houses with 48VAC may not be cost effective but new business buildings where lighting costs are a major concern and the cost of wiring the fixutres is already substantial may be a feasible.
I would rather pay licensing fees for more efficent LEDs than for specially shaped housing that a manufacturer claims will improve light output.