I’m still on a bit of a high from last week’s LightFair Intl.  in Las Vegas. Official attendance figures are forthcoming, but the show already boasted its largest-ever exhibitor base (more than 500) and anyone on the show floor would have to admit it was “busy,” with a palpable peak in Thursday traffic especially.
Another anecdotal observation about those participants: I saw more retail lighting showrooms in attendance than usual. I saw familiar faces on my flight and in the eternally snaking cab line at McCarran Airport, then all over the aisles at the Las Vegas Convention Center.
Historically, LightFair had been too much of a commercial lighting show to be worth the trip for the majority of showrooms, who could wait for new technologies to “trickle down” to residential relevance. With LED lighting speeding up advances to a pace that rivals the electronics industry, the future has been rescheduled to right now for all segments.
While I wouldn’t say this year’s show held the quantum leaps experienced at the last two editions in terms of LED — such as dimmability, viable replacement bulbs and the first plug-and-play modules — I’m excited to report that much R&D appears to be going into making LED more palatable for consumers in general. We saw more products in the warmer range, and higher outputs at all color temperatures. Remote phosphors enhanced this effect by enabling greater efficacy and better color rendering, as high as 98 CRI.
Juno Lighting Group  even won two LFI Innovation Awards  for an LED recessed downlight called WarmDim  that replicates the appearance of incandescent light when dimmed by changing color temperature from 3000K to 2000K as light levels go down.
The end-user’s experience with a product — including innate impressions about what “feels” right — is just as important to LED’s success in the consumer marketplace as its performance, if not more so. It won’t matter that a light lasts 50,000 hours if it doesn’t enhance the time spent in that environment. Refreshingly, this year’s LightFair displayed as much art as science, and I’m glad so many showrooms were there to bear witness.