May 11, 2024  

5 Things to Know:  May 11

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Yet another LED patent lawsuit is filed.  Plus, will these smart home devices soon become Brilliant Bricks?


Here's a roundup of some of the week's happenings curated to help lighting people stay informed. 


1.  A.I. & Architectural Design

As reported by ARCHITECT Magazine, the integration of artificial intelligence (AI) in the field of architecture is not only reshaping design workflows but also raising important questions about its impact on the workforce. A recent survey indicates that 60% of architects using AI have done so without any formal training, highlighting a significant push towards experimentation and self-learning despite the need for more comprehensive training resources. These professionals are adapting to AI's rapid incorporation into their field, facing challenges like limited testing time and integration issues, yet they continue to pioneer new design possibilities through self-driven innovation.


Beyond simple image generation, AI's applications within architecture are proving to be extensive and valuable. The survey suggests that AI is most beneficial during the conceptualization and pre-design stages, utilized by 68% of respondents for tasks such as layout planning, feasibility studies, and compliance with building codes and energy efficiency standards. This broad application is enhancing sustainability efforts and streamlining complex tasks, underlining AI’s role in elevating architectural design. However, the expansion of AI also brings concerns about job security and the need for ethical guidelines, with 74% of respondents advocating for standards that address intellectual property and quality assurance to ensure AI benefits the workforce without undermining job stability.


2 .  Chicago & NYC complete large LED projects

This week, two big cities flexed the recent completion of some large-scale LED lighting projects.

CHICAGO — The Chicago Department of Aviation (CDA) and ComEd celebrated the completion of an energy-efficient lighting upgrade at O’Hare International Airport's Terminals 1 and 3 this week. The project, part of the city's broader initiative to cut airport energy use and maintenance costs, saw the replacement of 685 outdated metal halide fixtures with advanced LEDs, promising an annual saving of nearly 1.75 million kilowatt-hours and reducing over 1.1 million pounds of carbon emissions. With ComEd's Energy Efficiency Program, CDA secured over $326,000 in incentives, expecting a payback period of less than one year.

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NEW YORK — The New York City Department of Citywide Administrative Services (DCAS) and the New York Power Authority (NYPA) have completed the installation of over 37,000 LED lights in 67 NYPD facilities throughout the city, officials announced this week. This $17 million lighting replacement, part of the Direct Install Lighting Program, is expected to save the city approximately $750,000 annually in energy and maintenance costs and cut carbon emissions by 1,800 metric tons. Moving forward, DCAS will also deploy the Direct Install Lighting Program in New York City Public Schools, which will install energy-efficient LED lights in 800 schools across the city.

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3.   Smart home.  Brilliant bricks?

Smart home company, Brilliant, is facing financial difficulties and has laid off its workforce as it searches for a buyer. CEO Aaron Emigh confirmed to The Verge that despite the company's cash crisis and cessation of new product sales, existing devices like the Brilliant smart switch will continue to operate as the company maintains its servers during this transitional phase.


Emigh noted that the continuation of server support is uncertain, as it depends on the outcome of the company's asset sale. Without continued server support, consumers could see a significant reduction in functionality, turning their once-smart devices into mere manual switches or simple intercoms if no buyer steps in to maintain these services.

The Verge details the plight of Brilliant following the unsuccessful attempt to secure funding during a Series C financing round. The company, which offers products that integrate various smart home devices and allow for centralized control via a touchscreen panel, has reportedly seen interest from potential buyers.  


4.   WANTED: Tech Savvy Facilities Managers

As lighting people help inject more and more buildings with high tech controls systems and software platforms, commercial real estate leader JLL is stating that the facilities management (FM) profession is facing significant challenges as it grapples with an aging workforce that lacks technological expertise at a time when tech integration into the sector is accelerating.

According to a survey by the Facilities Management Association, the average age of FM professionals is 49, with the International Facility Management Association (IFMA) projecting that 40% of managers in high-income countries will retire by 2026. Shane Betts, Head of Corporate Business for JLL Work Dynamics, highlights the increasing skills gap, emphasizing the difficulty in recruiting tech-savvy FM professionals as the industry becomes more complex and tech-driven. This shift is underscored by JLL research indicating that 56% of organizations are planning to adopt predictive maintenance technologies.

As the real estate embraces innovative technologies such as the Internet of Things (IoT), artificial intelligence, and automation, the demand for knowledgeable facilities managers who can navigate these tools is growing. Facilities management, once a background operation, is now at the forefront of creating sophisticated, agile facilities strategies. Betts points out the necessity of employing and training individuals capable of leveraging technology to achieve strategic goals and enhance building user experiences.


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5.   White LED Filament Lawsuit

California-based Feit Electric, which has launched previous legal battles against GE Lighting and LEDVANCE over white filament LED technology, has initiated a new lawsuit. This time, the suit is against Texas-based lamp importer Elong International USA, Inc., which markets its products under the Utilitech brand at Lowe's and Walmart. The complaint addresses allegations of patent infringement by both Elong and its Chinese partner, Xiamen Longstar Lighting Co., Ltd.


Above: Lowe's packaging as depicted in lawsuit

According to the complaint, Feit Electric accuses Elong and Longstar of infringing on its United States patent titled "Wavelength Conversion Component With a Diffusing Layer," issued in 2013. The patent pertains to a technology used in white LED filament lamps, which Feit claims is unlawfully incorporated in the Utilitech and Better Homes & Gardens white filament LED products sold by Lowe's and Walmart. The lawsuit details the alleged patent violations and seeks remedies including injunctive relief, damages for lost profits, and a trebling of those damages due to what Feit asserts is willful infringement by the defendants.


Full complaint »