In the first place, LED fixed roadway lighting is proliferating rapidly—in manufacturer portfolios and on actual roads—accelerated by increasingly advanced LED technology and technique on the one hand, and incentive programs on the other, designed by cities and road authorities to try out new efficient lighting and adopt the best and most cost-effective ones as quickly as possible. Not only the efficiency but also the quality of light improves with good LEDs; the theory of improved seeing performance with streetlights producing increased light in a particular wavelength range, presented in some detail at last Autumn's VISION congress, is being supported with increasing experience on the road.
Lights without wheels under them—household and architectural lighting—seemingly so different from the automotive ones we deal with, nevertheless provide us with valuable insight into the direction our industry might take. The leading edges of technology and technique race along at the same rapid pace, but the trailing edge lags far behind and slowly. The low-efficacy incandescent non-halogen light bulb, which all but disappeared from the road-illumination lamps (headlamps, fog and driving lamps) of automobiles in the 1970s, still has enormous installed base throughout the world. As a result, legislation has been brought in to set minimum allowable efficacy levels for new and replacement domestic and architectural lighting. Like a houseguest who has overstayed his welcome, the old plain-tungsten light bulb is being pushed out the door since it refuses to leave on its own.
But now there are halogen-infrared replacement bulbs about to hit store shelves that take only 50w and are utterly indistinguishable, subjectively and objectively—until you see the savings in your electricity bill—from an old-type 100w plain incandescent in terms of light quality and quantity. This finds close analogy with the recent rise of the HIR2/9012 high-efficacy automotive halogen headlight bulb.