Monday, October 20, 2014

Transforming the Future of Lighting Systems with Led Technology

Although the origin of Light Emitting Diode or LED technology can be traced back to 1927, it did not enter the commercial arena until much later. This was largely due to its high production cost; it is, however, rapidly gaining ground in more recent times. With the increasing demand for greener, more energy-efficient products, as well as the worldwide environmental strain on energy resources, is LED technology the answer to our lighting needs? What does the future hold for LED technology and does it have what it takes to overpower the traditional light bulb, which was perhaps the most lifechanging invention in human history?
LED lights are likely the most environmentally friendly lighting options available in the current scenario. So what makes it the leading choice in industrial, architectural, and horticultural applications around the world? LEDs last as much as 20 times longer than other lighting sources, and therefore don’t need to be replaced as often. This reduces the impact of manufacturing, packaging, and shipping. LEDs are also designed to provide more than a decade of near maintenance-free service. Less servicing also reduces environmental impact.
Additionally, LEDs consume much less energy than incandescent and high-intensity discharge (HID) lights. LED lights use only 2–17 watts of electricity, which is 25%–80% less energy than standard lighting systems. And while compact fluorescent lights are also energy-efficient, LEDs burn even less energy. LEDs contain no mercury, unlike their HID counterparts, whose mercury-laden remnants can seep into the water supply and adversely affect sea life, and those who consume it. 

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, “Widespread use of LED lighting has the greatest potential impact on energy savings in the United States. By 2027, widespread use of LEDs could save about 348 terawatt hours (compared to no LED use) of electricity: This is the equivalent annual electrical output of 44 large electric power plants (1000 megawatts each), and a total savings of more than $30 billion at today’s electricity prices.”

The electrical maintenance required for lighting systems in public buildings that receive harsh and prolonged use, sometimes 24 hours a day, 365 days of the year, is overwhelming. In public building management, time is money, and because changing LED fixtures happens far less often than traditional lighting, public building management will have to spend less time on the ladder changing bulbs. LED lighting contributes to energy savings and sustainability by improving working conditions through deliberately directed light and by reducing the energy needed to power lighting fixtures.
A groundbreaking advancement in this area came to the forefront when Isamu Akasaki, Professor at Meijo University, Hiroshi Amano, Professor at Nagoya University, and Shuki Nakahmura, a Japanese-born Professor currently at the University of California, Santa Barbara won the Nobel Prize in Physics earlier this month for inventing the world’s first blue light-emitting diodes (LEDs).
While red and green LEDs had been around for some time, the elusive blue LED represented a long-standing challenge for researchers in both academia and industry. Without this critical last piece, scientists were unable to produce white light from LEDs, as all three colors needed to be mixed together for this to happen.
The white LED lamps that resulted from this invention emit very bright white light and are superior in terms of energy efficiency and lifespan when compared with incandescent and fluorescent bulbs. LEDs can last some 100,000 hours, whereas incandescent bulbs typically last only about 1,000. “With 20% of the world’s electricity used for lighting, it’s been calculated that optimal use of LED lighting could reduce this to 4%,” said Dr. Frances Saunders, President of the Institute of Physics. “This is physics research that is having a direct impact on the grandest of scales, helping protect our environment, as well as turning up in our everyday electronic gadgets.”
What’s more, these LED lamps have the potential to improve the quality of life for more than 1.5 billion people in the world that do not have access to electricity grids. Since LEDs require very little energy input, they can run on cheap local solar power. 
Steven DenBaars, a research scientist at UC Santa Barbara, has been working on LED lights for 20 years. In his laboratory, he 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.
According to DenBaars, the working of lasers is very similar to an LED lightbulb. “It’s the same materials, but you put two mirrors on either side of the LED and it breaks into a laser. Once you get reflection back and forth, you get an amplification effect, and it goes from regular emission to stimulated emission.”
Simply replacing the light emitting diodes in a typical LED bulb with a laser diode wouldn’t work. This hypothetical laser light bulb would catch on fire from all the waste heat it would generate, not to mention an ungodly amount of light, more than enough to blind anyone who looked at it. Rather, DenBaars imagines using just a handful of tiny but powerful lasers, and then redirecting their light into fiber-optic cables and other types of light-transmitting plastic that could take that light and evenly distribute it into a warm, diffuse glow.

BMW’s “hybrid supercar,” the i8, uses headlights that are the latest example of laser-based lighting technology. Like all lasers re-appropriated for conventional illumination, blue laser diodes were aimed at a phosphor that transforms the blue laser light into more diffused white light. The result is headlights with such a long working life that they could “easily outlive the automobile” in which they’re installed, notes IEEE Spectrum.
Laser lights could solve the problem of how to bridge the gap between traditional light sockets and more radical configurations of new lighting technologies. With just a few point sources of laser light installed in a building, their illumination can be redirected throughout a structure via plastic fiber-optic cables that could run along ceilings and around corners, just as the cable company runs its wires into buildings and through rooms without having to tear holes in walls or interface with the electrical system of a building. “Rather than route the electricity to the bulb you can route the light to the sources. LEDs let you do that too, but lasers would take it a couple steps further,” says DenBaars.
LEDs are helping change the way we light up our world, facilitating the development of environmentally friendly, energy-efficient light sources that offer a dramatic improvement from the incandescent bulbs pioneered at the beginning of the 20th century.

For our relevant BCC Research report on LED, visit the following link:
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Monday, October 13, 2014

Minding Our Brain’s Business: Unravelling The Neuroscience Of The Human Brain

For centuries, the mysteries of grey matter have baffled scientists and researchers alike. How can humans manage to store countless moments, past and present, in one single organ? How can animals map their path back and forth? How do we figure out a shortcut to work when there's a big traffic jam? How do we recall where we parked our car? So on and so forth.
The brain, as it turns out, has a GPS-like function that enables people to produce mental maps and navigate the world — a discovery for which husband-and-wife scientists Edvard Moser and May-Britt Moser of Norway, and New York-born researcher John O'Keefe were recently honored for breakthroughs in experiments on rats that could help pave the way for a better understanding of human diseases such as Alzheimer's. This solves the problem of how the brain creates a map of the space surrounding us and how we navigate our way through a complex environment. In other words, it reveals brain's internal positioning system and gives clues to how strokes and Alzheimer's affect the brain.
"We can actually begin to investigate what goes wrong" in Alzheimer's, said O'Keefe. "The findings might also help scientists design tests that can pick up the very earliest signs of the mind-robbing disease, whose victims lose their spatial memory and get easily lost," he added.
It was in London in 1971 where O'Keefe, conducting his research on rats, discovered the first component of the brain's positioning system. O'Keefe, now director at the center in neural circuits and behavior at University College London, found that a type of nerve cell in a brain region called the hippocampus was always activated when a rat was in a certain place in a room. Other nerve cells were activated when the rat was in other positions. O'Keefe, thereafter, concluded that these "place cells" were building up a map, not just registering visual input.
"I made the initial discovery over 40 years ago. It was met then with a lot of scepticism," the 74-year-old O'Keefe said. "And then slowly over years, the evidence accumulated. And I think it's a sign of recognition not only for myself and the work I did, but for the way in which the field has bloomed."
What is vital, however, is that the knowledge about the brain's positioning system can also help understand what causes loss of spatial awareness in stroke patients or those with brain diseases like dementia, of which Alzheimer's is the most common form and which affects 44 million people worldwide.
In 1996, Edvard Moser and May-Britt Moser, now based in scientific institutes in the Norwegian town of Trondheim, worked with O'Keefe to learn how to record the activity of cells in the hippocampus. In 2005, they identified another type of nerve cell in the entorhinal cortex region in the brains of rats that functions as a navigation system. These so-called "grid cells," they discovered, are constantly working to create a map of the outside world and are responsible for animals' knowing where they are, where they have been, and where they are going.
The Nobel Assembly said the laureates' discoveries marked a shift in scientists' understanding of how specialized cells work together to perform complex cognitive tasks. They have also opened new avenues for understanding cognitive functions such as memory, thinking, and planning.
The finding, a fundamental piece of research, explains how the brain works but does not have immediate implications for new medicines, since it does not set out a mechanism of action.
For our relevant BCC Research reports on Alzheimer’s, visit the following links:

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Friday, October 10, 2014

The Changing Face of the Healthcare Industry with Mhealth Technologies

The health industry is increasingly responding to the rising popularity and availability of technological innovations, such as tablets and smartphones. The use of connected devices to collect patient data, monitor ongoing conditions, access health information, and communicate with providers, patients, and peers is a trend that is spreading like wildfire. Health applications have the potential to be adapted and used by healthcare professionals and consumers, helping to revolutionize the sector and reflect the digital age we live in.
Mobile Health (mHealth) can provide cost-effective solutions within the global healthcare environment, which faces budget constraints, an increasing prevalence of chronic conditions, and a limited healthcare workforce. mHealth is the use of mobile and wireless technologies to support healthcare systems and achieve healthcare objectives.  After several successful global trials, several mHealth services have entered the commercialization phase and many mobile applications have been launched, stimulating partnerships with software developers, mobile operators, governmental and non-governmental organizations, and leading healthcare players.
Over the next decade innovations within the mHealth market will be driven by evolution of smartphone technologies, improvements in wireless coverage, and remote treatment and monitoring of prevalent chronic diseases. According to a BCC Research report, the global mHealth market reached nearly $1.5 billion in 2012 and $2.4 billion in 2013. It is expected to reach $21.5 billion in 2018 with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 54.9% over the five-year period from 2013 to 2018.
For healthcare professionals, mobile or tablet apps also have enormous potential for training and professional development. Connectivity is built in, facilitating a blended learning platform with easily updatable information, in an accessible format. This allows for a truly flexible and enjoyable teaching and learning experience, ideal for both professionals and students, with information available anytime, anywhere.
Not only do health training and development apps provide more dynamic training tools, but they can also bring huge cost savings. Apps are inexpensive to produce and update, especially when compared to other training tools. Tablets and smartphones are readily available and the technology is relatively low cost when compared to other health technologies and professional training tools.
Apple’s new software, HealthKit, is designed to collect data from various health and fitness apps, making that data easily available to Apple users through the company’s new Health app. HealthKit is being developed to send data directly into hospital and doctors' charts, too.
Craig Federighi, Senior Vice President at Apple, at a conference held earlier this year, said, “Developers have created a vast array of healthcare devices and accompanying applications, everything from monitoring your activity level, to your heart rate, to your weight, and chronic medical conditions like high blood pressure and diabetes. ... [But] you can’t get a single comprehensive picture of your health situation. But now you can, with HealthKit.”
Mobile phone carriers such as Verizon and Sprint are also using their vast and trusted networks to bring mobile patient engagement and data to the forefront. “[Verizon’s] Converged Health Management is a perfect example of how we are using our unique combination of assets like our 4G LTE wireless network and cloud infrastructure to deliver an innovative, cost-effective and game-changing solution to the marketplace,” said John Stratton, President of Verizon Enterprise Solutions.
For relevant BCC Research reports on telemedicine technologies, visit the following links:
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Wednesday, October 8, 2014


Environmental field monitoring technologies have advanced rapidly in the last decade, concurrent with advances in digital technology, computational power and Internet-enabled communications. Environmental sensors have become much smaller, faster and often less expensive. Advances in air-sensing technologies, in particular, now enable rapid retrieval of time-critical pollution data on a large scale. Fast, low-cost sensors afford the possible networking of multiple units within a sensor grid network so that even street-level monitoring can be achieved.
Several governments across the globe are playing an active role in funding and encouraging environmental monitoring programs, thereby keeping the growth in the global market buoyant. In the U.S. market alone, some $250 billion of economic output stems from all pollution control and monitoring activities each year. Among the faster-growing segments of this business are the markets for sophisticated sensors; monitoring equipment; large-scale networks, such as satellite, GPS and remote sensing; associated networking equipment and ancillaries; and a large slate of new technologies. Globally, the markets for environmental sensors and the related subsegments account for approximately $13 billion of economic activity at present, with a projected average annual growth of 5.9% through 2019, according to a BCC Research report.
Among the key trends in the environmental sensors industry are miniaturization down to the nano scale, continuous and/or real-time sensing capabilities, wireless networked operation, rapid processing, and increased sensitivity or flexibility. Dominant trends in the sensors business include the development of more large-scale monitoring systems, such as remote sensing and satellite-based large-area sensors. Private companies are now getting into the environmental monitoring satellite business. Mobile environmental sensing systems are being increasingly tested and proposed for urban areas. Such systems are used to identify and monitor urban air pollution events, and correlations can be made between resulting data and levels of local transport or industrial activity. A new public housing estate in Singapore, to be launched in 2015 in the Punggol Northshore district, will install sensors to monitor residents’ waste disposal. The housing authority will then analyze the data collected to deploy resources for waste collection. The district will also feature other smart technologies such as intelligent car parking areas and smart lighting.

The United States 2009 Economic Recovery Act provided additional hundreds of millions of dollars for research on environmental monitoring and sensors to U.S. entities such as the EPA, the DOE, NASA and certain government labs. Advancements have been made in networking from space; with additional satellites, networked coverage of the globe’s surface is becoming ever more comprehensive. China successfully launched the Yaogan-21 remote sensing satellite from Taiyuan Satellite Launch Center in September 2014. Yaogan-21 will be used for scientific experiments, natural resource surveys, estimation of crop yield and disaster relief.

In light of the now-numerous international reports on climate change that confirm man’s considerable impact on the environment, scientists agree that more sophisticated monitoring programs are urgently needed to detect ecological changes before they become irreversible. The surging need to monitor emissions continues to fuel the need to develop more sensitive and cost-effective environmental sensors. Nanotechnology and micro-electromechanical technology improvements in sensor development, design, and production, are expected to benefit the market. Nanotechnology enables sensors to be selective in the detection of multiple analytes and enables monitoring their presence in real time. The sensors business is a very dynamic area of the economy, and thus it is a sector with huge profit-making potential if one can correctly identify future opportunities in environmental sensing.
For our relevant BCC Research report on environmental sensing and monitoring technologies, visit the following link:
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