The 15 Most Important Technologies of the Last 15 Years – #14: LED Lighting

In the last few years LED light bulbs have started to become mainstream. Because they provide very bright light at a very low energy consumption and can last for up to twenty years, they are quickly transforming the lighting industry. Yet the common LED light bulb is merely an evolution of LED light technology and is only one of the many important uses of LED lighting over the last 15 years.

We may not pay much attention to it, but most flat screen TVs and monitors made over the last ten years include LED lighting technology. Prior to that, most flat panel screens used small fluorescent tubes as their backlighting system. Besides using more power than LED, fluorescent tubes in LCD displays tended to last only a few years before they burned out and they were generally quite expensive or extremely difficult to replace. Often laptop owners would simply buy a new laptop instead of dealing with replacing a burned-out backlight, even though the rest of the laptop was often in perfectly good working order. LED technology changed all that. In addition to providing a brighter, more consistent lighting, an LED backlight can last well beyond the useful life of a laptop, making the possibility of a burned out backlight and a prematurely dead laptop less likely. The small size of LED lighting has also helped make possible the very large TVs and computer monitors of the last few years. Today’s displays would not be able to be as large and as thin if they used older fluorescent backlighting.

While light bulbs and large screens are important technology advancements, the most critical application of LED technology over the last 15 years has been its use in mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets. Truly, the mobile device revolution led would not have been possible without the use of LED lighting. Only LED can deliver the necessary backlighting in the small footprint and low power consumption that smartphones and tablets require. Without its relatively small size and long battery life, the original iPhone would probably not have been as popular and who knows how our technology lives would be different today? So while it is a mostly behind the scenes technology (literally), LED has certainly brightened up our lives over the last fifteen years and will become the dominant lighting technology in the near future.

Were you aware of the importance of LED lightning over the last 15 years? Comment below!