THE BLOG
11/03/2015 11:05 GMT | Updated 11/05/2015 06:59 BST

Are LED's About to Take Over the World?

A few months ago you could have asked me what an LED (light emitting diodes) was and I would have looked at you with a slightly blank, bewildered expression. I mean, I'd heard the word thrown around but I couldn't recall a definition.

In fact, the first LED light was produced in 1962. Since their invention they have been used in homes, offices, cars and even traffic signals.

Efforts in environmentalism have been around for hundreds of years but in recent times there has been a shift into discussing new issues such as global warming, energy efficiency and sustainability.

The European Commission has also recently announced that it may ban halogen bulbs as early as next year as part of their drive on energy efficiency which means LED's and CFL's (compact fluorescent lamps) are set to become even more widespread.

But who is this drive aimed at? Is it for ordinary people, like you and I? Surely businesses, companies and corporations should also be expected to follow suit.

Aside from the countless emails I receive offering me eco-friendly dog food (yes, it's a thing) I wondered whether companies were getting in on the action and trying their hand at energy-efficiency. I wanted to know whether energy efficiency, and in particular these little LED's I'd started hearing about, were about to take over the world.

Attractions

The Empire State Building, in America, underwent a $550 million renovation in 2010, with $120 million that went into transforming the building into an energy-efficient and eco-friendly construction. Then, in 2012 a computer-driven LED lighting system was installed - capable of displaying 16 million colours.

The Melbourne Star, in Australia, although plagued by initial problems, was re-opened in 2013 and includes over three and a half kilometres of LED's, billed as having "the world's first LED lighting system" on an attraction of its kind.

Events

The Super Bowl XLIX which took place in February 2015 was held at the University of Phoenix Stadium in Arizona. The stadium was fitted with brand new LED light fixtures - the first time a stadium had been entirely lit with LED's in a bid to cut energy by up to 75%. It was also the most watched show in the history of U.S television, peaking at over 120 million viewers.

The Symphony of Lights is a daily light and sound show in Hong Kong. It is the world's largest permanent light and sound show, according to the Guinness World Records. The show involves lasers, searchlights and LED's, lasting for around 13 minutes.

Beauty/Health

Developed by NASA, LED facials are said to plump up aging skin, boost collagen and treat acne and are becoming commonplace in beauty salons across America and the UK. Joanna Vargas, celebrity facialist, uses them in her salons and said "it keeps the skin healthier in general, so it becomes less reactive to pollution and the stresses of life".

In Iran, LED's are being used in the treatment of cancerous and precancerous skin lesions and in future could be used in the treatment of skin cancer.

Scientists from South Korea, Finland and the USA have been working on developing a 'bionic contact lens'. The lens features an antenna, a circuit and a sapphire chip containing a blue LED. Once fully developed, it could have a range of uses from video gaming to helping those with visual impairments. LED's were used due to their ability to form images in front of the eye in the form of words, charts or even photographs.

Horticulture

Holland has been heavily involved with LED lighting for plants since the early 1990's and since then has harnessed electricity from living plants to power mobile phone chargers, Wi-Fi hotspots and streetlights. Dutch researchers have also recently found that strawberries grown under LED lighting are tastier, yield higher and have more vitamin C.

Animals

To avoid motorists and aid visibility in darkness or bad weather, strips of LED are attached to horse's tails through Velcro straps. Developed in America, the invention has since been expanded to include brow band lights and LED breast plates. They also come with three brightness settings including a yellow strobe for emergencies.

From facials to strawberries, it seems we are living in the age of the LED. And with increasingly advanced digital technology, there could be no stopping these little diodes.

Do I think LED's about to take over the world? Probably. Let's just hope they don't rise up and turn against us...after all, I really like strawberries.

To read more of how LED's are used around the world, please visit my blog here.