Thomas Edison Lightbulb
Roll over, Thomas Edison lightbulb: changing a lightbulb could soon become a task of the past

Roll over, Thomas Edison lightbulb: changing a lightbulb could soon become a task of the past

The light bulb, perhaps one of the world’s most entrenched technologies, is about to experience a rude awakening.

Dozens of companies and academic groups worldwide are feverishly seeking to produce a new kind of lighting called white-light light-emitting diodes (LEDs). Just as transistors replaced vacuum tubes, LEDs that are sufficiently cheap, pleasing and efficient promise to crush Edison’s almighty light bulb and radically transform the $40 billion illumination industry.

LEDs are just a niche market now, but by 2025 they could cut $100 billion from global electricity costs and eliminate the need for $50 billion worth of power plants. And that’s just a taste of what’s to come. If developers can produce LEDs that cost the same as light bulbs, it’s safe to say that changing a light bulb could become a task of the past.

More details can be found in “LEDs vs. the Light Bulb”, the May 2003 cover story of Technology Review, MIT’s award-winning Magazine of Innovation. The issue, now available at, will be on newsstands April 22.

Other features in the May 2003 issue include:

• “Special Issue: 2003 TR Patent Scorecard”: Can a well-rounded patent portfolio help a company weather tough market conditions? The annual TR Patent Scorecard ranks the world’s top 150 firms in eight key high-tech industries according to their intellectual property power. Who’s ahead for 2003?

“Patents Go Global:” With corporations increasingly expanding their global efforts, businesses and independent inventors must go global as well in order to protect their intellectual property and discoveries. But with more than 100 patent systems to tackle, the process is extraordinarily time-consuming and expensive. Technology Review looks at the state of domestic and worldwide efforts to create a single global standard. Will the U.S. meet the world halfway to create a unified system?

• “Mind-Machine Merger”: With the country at war, news stories of activity in Iraq and high-tech weaponry are found in every news outlet on a daily basis. Technology Review looks at a $24 million DARPA initiative launched last fall that aims to brain/machine interfaces that link the human mind directly to computers. The effort will yield a new generation of electrodes, computer chips, and software that might eventually equip soldiers, for example, to control superfast artificial limbs, pilot remote vehicles and guide mobile robots in hazardous environments, using only the power of their thoughts.

• “Surveillance Nation: Part Two”: In the name of convenience, efficiency, and security, we’re creating a world in which our every movement, transaction and indiscretion can be electronically tracked. In the second part of a special two-part series, Technology Review outlines the issues associated with eyes-everywhere surveillance, and suggest that if emerging surveillance technologies are designed in ways that deter misuse, we may not have to forfeit our privacy in the bargain.

NOTE to editors and producers: Technology Review editors are available to discuss topics featured in the May 2003 issue.

About Technology Review Inc.

Technology Review Inc., an MIT Enterprise, delivers essential information about emerging technologies on the verge of commercialization. Since 1998, paid circulation for the company’s magazine, Technology Review, has more than tripled, climbing from 92,000 to 315,000. Combined with its signature events, newsletters, and online businesses, Technology Review reaches over a million senior technology thinkers and influencers - including venture capitalists, chief scientists, MIT alumni and students, researchers, senior corporate executives, investors, and innovators - throughout the world each month.

Author Notes:

Mark Harris contributes and publishes news editorial to  Find online lightbulbs like Halogen, Projector, Tanning Bed, Fluorescent, Automotive and much more.

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