Future interior lighting could go route of lasers instead of LEDs

11/13/2013 - 00:00

Steven DenBaars, a research scientist at UC Santa Barbara, has been working on LED lights for 20 years. He has been instrumental in pushing them to the point that they are the true heir to Edison’s electric bulb. But in his own head, and in his lab, DenBaars is already onto the next big thing: Replacing a substantial portion of indoor lights, and the archaic bulb and socket infrastructure on which they depend, with lasers.

If the thought of illuminating an office, airport or even your home with lasers conjures up images of rock concerts, dance clubs or 80′s-era superweapons, fear not: The results could be much more accessible, even naturalistic. And some experts say we could get there within 10 years.

Imagine, for example, the entire ceiling of a room lit up as if it were one big skylight. Or picture hotel ballrooms in which dozens or hundreds of bulbs are replaced by just a handful of ultra-bright light sources. DenBaars has—and now he’s just waiting for lighting designers to catch up.