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Mon 28 Feb 2011 12:00 AM

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High-hopes for low-res

If new AV technology firm Lighting Emissions has its way, we could be saying goodbye to video walls and hello to an “innovative” low-resolution display system that can be installed easily and effectively in almost limitless-sized projects

High-hopes for low-res
The hub of Light Emissions’ Art system - the Brain

Newly launched at last month’s ARC show in London was Lighting Emissions; which founder
Peter Ed says will introduce new standards in large scale LED
video based graphics to architects and interior designers.

Ed, who has previously worked as ETC’s marketing director
and Strand Lighting’s product development manager, started working on plans for
the company after being made redundant from German lighting firm G-LEC.

“The company went bust and the head of R&D and myself
joined up with our other partner to launch Light Emissions with the express
intent to take the low resolution displays,” he explains.

While low-res LEDs are a mature technology in the live event
market, they have not previously been adapted specifically for the
architectural install sector. The Light
Emissions solution is geared towards speed and ease of installation and
simplicity of maintenance. “Importantly, graphic media is kept wholly in the
digital video domain, avoiding complex programming and expensive controllers
needed when using networked DMX,” says Ed.

Quite simply, Light Emissions’ solution is based on a client
providing video or media content that is fed into a processor wired to a
display using network cable and then configured using a PC-based software.

So far, each of the primary components of the system - Art,
a display consisting of ‘ArtBoard’ PCBs that can be attached to a
surface, and ‘Brain’ a high-speed processor that managers each video pixel
individually - have received a positive reception.

“My heart sung after the second day at ARC,” says Ed. “We
had lots of people coming over and not just chatting but discussing the
projects they were doing and how Art could fit in to that. There were definite
commercial opportunities; it’s very, very exciting. After so long under the
technology bonnet, it’s nice to pop up and see what’s going on in the real
world.”

He admits though, that the risk of the initial investment
into the business was at times worrying. “The whole financial aspect is a bit
scary,” he says. “It’s been a bit of an adventure. When you’re starting
something off it can be very investment hungry.”

Ed says his primary function within Light Emissions is to
lead its marketing and play a part in technical development, while former G-LEC
colleague Sergej Mironov heads up R&D. And as far as Ed is concerned, the partnership has paid off. He is
confident the firms products, which are manufactured in Hastings, are “the most cost efficient and
energy conscious way to incorporate graphics and lighting into interior and
exterior architectural spaces”.

“Over the last few years, cost and functionality of LEDs and
electronics has improved enormously - but there are still market sectors not
aware of the fantastic and dramatic opportunities provided by large-scale LED
canvases. We aim to address that by building the best technology available,”
adds Mironov.

The ‘Brain’, which Ed describes as the “hub” of the whole
system, is an all encompassing processor requiring no PC hardware or operating
system which he is confident adds to the reliability of the system. What he
describes as “blistering” processing speed means a frame delay that is barely
noticeable and renders high-quality graphics.

In order to increase functionality, a PC-based
program, ‘Producer,’ which is designed to take the complexity out of the
system configuration, can be connected to a ‘Brain’, allowing installations to
be configured quickly and easily regardless of size and complexity.

The modular type approach of the ArtBoards means that
colour, brightness and other adjustments can be made for each
individually or for the whole system.

According to Ed, the flexibility and large-scale
possibilities of the ArtBoards that result from their light-weight and
energy-efficiency is one of the most attractive elements of the system, and the
factor that sets them entirely apart from video-walls.

“Because it’s low-res, you don’t have to have lots of heavy,
hot electronics,” he says. “You could place the PCBs on a glass panel with no
reinforcements with no problems at all.”

And he insists the installation is simple, with no specific
training required, thanks to the systems simplicity and an additional product
from the company currently in development.

“We are working on an Art frame fitting system at the moment
which allows you to fit Art onto any architectural surface, even without
straight lines. Normally on any type of building, any type of architectural
surface you’ll never get an exactly flat surface, which is often the problem
when fitting video and LED walls, but this frame system will negate ay
unevenness, giving a flat surface to work with.”

A Middle East distribution
deal is currently in the works, with an official announcement expected in the
coming weeks, and Ed is in no doubt of its potential in this region.

“There is a lot of development out there and what’s very
clear, when you come from Europe or the UK
or the US, is that the
design quality in the Middle East is
impeccable. It’s very clear that they are trying to create something that’s
lasting and to a high standard.”

He is philosophical though, when faced with quality issues
as a result of cost-cutting on projects that is becoming a regular practice in
the Middle East. “There are two types of
projects – one where the designers and the owners are thoughtful about what
they are building, what they are creating, and one where they don’t. And it’s
always better to work with the former!,” he says with a laugh.

So what now? “I think, realistically, that clients would
like to see a high-res version of Art, which will be our next product,”
explains Ed, who is confident in being able to unveil something new at this
year’s PLASA show.

In
the meantime, Light Emissions will be showcasing it’s solutions at ISE, held
this month in Amsterdam.