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Before you can start improving things, you need to learn more about them…

Before you can start improving things, you need to learn more about them…

Who invented that? Not me, but I think there are ways of doing it better.
By Joachim Ritter

There is a general belief in the western world that the so-called traditional industrial nations have time and again been robbed of their innovations, only to find them reappear at a later date, primarily under the name of a fast emerging Asian country. And to be honest, this still goes on. Unfortunately, people are quick to generalise, and industrial copy and paste procedures become the presumed rule of play. And yet it should also be permitted to question this preconception to find out just how valid it is.

It was indeed Thomas Alva Edison who received U.S. Patent No. 223,898 on 27. January, 1880 for his “discovery” of the incandescent lamp, and he is the one who is claimed to be the inventor of the same. But there were many researchers before him who would have equally deserved the title…

In 1801, Louis Jacques Thénard was already experimenting with metal wires that began to glow when subjected to galvanic current. Scottish inventor James Bowman Lindsay presented his version of the incandescent lamp in 1835, and around 1840 William Robert Grove published his work on the first incandescent lamp using platinum wires. The first patents were awarded to Frederick de Moleyns in 1841, and to John Wellington Starr 1845. In Russia in 1874, Alexander Nikolajewitsch Lodygin received a patent for an incandescent lamp with a carbonised filament in a glass bulb filled with nitrogen. The British physicist and chemist Joseph Wilson Swan also developed an incandescent lamp, in the year 1860. His technique involved using carbonised paper filaments inside an empty glass bulb. But it was not until 1878 that he managed to produce an electric lamp that really worked well and efficiently. He received his patent in England in the same year, that is to say two years before Edison received his in the USA. He developed a special socket for his incandescent lamp, the swan socket – often referred to today as a bayonet socket, which in contrast to the Edison screw cap did not loosen when subjected to vibrations, for example in vehicles when driving. Following a series of patent disputes, Edison and Swan reached an agreement and ended up founding a company together in London in 1883.

Does that mean to say that they were all copying from one another? I don’t think so.

And in this day and age? Who invented the blue LED? It was Japanese-born American electronic engineer Shuji Nakamura and his team in a lab in North America. This invention naturally inspired all well-known lamp manufacturers to start developing and refining blue LEDs as well. And who developed the SunLike LED that has just appeared on the market? Not a European – nor a North American. With Seoul Semiconductor and Toshiba, it was a team of Koreans and Japanese R&D experts that achieved this breakthrough. And it is indeed revolutionary.

Many designers have been waiting for this breakthrough, which is likely to give rise to a wave of copying and will inevitably be followed by further developments, given that the limits of invention are constantly changing and new challenges are always in the offing.

There are many conferences taking place around the world where manufacturers present their new developments with pride and hope to meet with large audiences. And they know that there are not only bandwagon types about, but also experts that “copy” out of conviction, and innovators that dedicate their time to making things better.

The invention of SunLike might not be sufficient to warrant awarding a Nobel prize, but will definitely generate respect and applause from all corners of the lighting industry for a development that does not have its origins in Europe or North America. At the latest when others begin to take the lead from this technological solution.

See about the new SunLike revolution from Seoul Semicondutor here.

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