LEDs are firmly established as the energy-saving, long-lasting successor to incandescent bulbs, but the next wave might just come in the future of organic light emitting diodes (OLEDs). With the capacity to produce soft, diffuse efficient lighting over broad—and even flexible—surface areas, OLEDs have many advantages over their conventional cousin, and now the Canadian company, OTI Lumionics, have produced what they call the world's first OLED designed for the consumer: the Aerelight.
If OLEDs sound familiar, it’s probably because they’re being used to create large curved televisions, and have also been cited in patents and designs for curved smartphones and tablets. They work by using layers of organic carbon-based molecules—as opposed to semiconductors—to generate electrons, and can therefore produce light without the use of a backlight, hence the flexibility. And this diffuse way of generating light gives OLEDs significant advantage over LEDs, which produce an intense light from a single point. As Lloyd Alter at Treehugger puts it OLEDs are the start of a revolution where we “will be buying our light by the square foot,” and that could create huge shifts in interior architecture.
But, back to the Aerelight. To date OLED lamps have been prohibitively expensive, and at $239, the Aerelight doesn’t come cheap. However, it will last for around 15-20 years with no bulbs to change—ever. And the unique form that an OLED panel takes lends itself to a particularly sleek design—the light panel itself is less than 2mm thick. As designer Ray Kwa explains “With traditional light sources, the bulb is a distinct separate entity from the fixture. With aerelight, I wanted to create a seamless, continuous frame integrating the base, frame and light, synonymous to the OLED light source itself with emits a diffused, fluid soft light.”
The simple frame of the Aerelight features touch activation and dimmer, with a maximum output of 1000 lux. The glow of the lamp is distinctly softer and less blue than one sees in conventional LED lamps; its temperature is around 2900K, the same as incandescent bulbs, but without the toxicity and energy hunger. This color temperature is created by inserting dyes into the OLED’s organic layers to modify the tone of the light. Not only does that make the light more comfortable for reading and the like, it is also avoids the criticism that LEDs have faced for disrupting sleep patterns. And as an added bonus, the wood veneer panel in the lamp’s base has a built in Qi wireless phone charger.
While some may find the $239 price tag still a little steep, co-designer Michael Helander sees the Aerelight as just the beginning. Speaking to Fast Co.Exist, he explained, “This product shows off a little of what we can do with OLEDs… The next step is moving to devices built on plastic sheets that are flexible and bendable. You’ll move from lighting as something in a socket to a building material itself that you can integrate into structures and furniture in ways people never thought about before.”
The Aerelight is now available for pre-order from their site.
Via Fast Co.Exist
Images © Aerelight