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Wearable Lighting Is Coming: Here’s What The Future Holds

In the past, the two terms, “wearable” and “lighting” did not belong in the same sentence. Since the adoption of LEDs, companies have tried to integrate the two into just about everything.

In the past, the two terms, “wearable” and “lighting” did not belong in the same sentence. Since the adoption of LEDs, companies have tried to integrate the two into just about everything. From dog collars to tents; from outerwear to skateboards LED lighting has been seen on a small scale in nearly every type of product to date. However, the slow adoption of wearable lighting has been a fundamental issue with consumers’ perception of safety. People want safety, but don’t want to look like a construction worker. To date, manufacturers have been faced with two major design choices when incorporating LEDs into

To date, manufacturers have been faced with two major design choices when incorporating LEDs into clothing. The first, LEDs create a pinpoint light source and require a number of lights to get enough coverage on the wearable device, which affects the design of the product. The second is that they require wiring, waterproofing, and heat sinking in order to remain close to the body. This creates sometimes bulky and fragile devices that cannot take proper washing or typical care required for clothing.

Two emerging technologies today can completely change the landscape of wearable lighting and make consumers not have that difficult choice when shopping for activewear.

VynEL Lighting

Introduced in early 2017, VynEL Lighting is shaping to be one of the most integrated lighting devices ever. Because it can be heat bonded, sewn, glued and manufactured into nearly any shape or size, VynEL can be incorporated into countless products. Its extreme flexibility means it can be integrated into fabrics and textiles and give a new intelligence of consumer safety products. VynEL is derived from electroluminescent technology and uses a phosphor mixture as its basis for illumination. A specialized “inverter” will excite the phosphor particles and create a beautiful illumination on whatever it touches. Similar to

Its extreme flexibility means it can be integrated into fabrics and textiles and give a new intelligence of consumer safety products. VynEL is derived from electroluminescent technology and uses a phosphor mixture as its basis for illumination. A specialized “inverter” will excite the phosphor particles and create a beautiful illumination on whatever it touches. Similar to

A specialized “inverter” will excite the phosphor particles and create a beautiful illumination on whatever it touches. Similar to EL Panels, VynEL glows a beautiful glow when activated, and uses less power per foot than even LEDs. The even light makes it aesthetically pleasing to look at and a true contender for many companies in the sporting goods and active wear industries.

Laser Wire TM Systems

EL Wire, a technology introduced in early 2000 and made popular by stage performances like Daft Punk, creates a relatively even light that has been incorporated into a number of Kickstarter campaigns, but has not made it much past the maker space realm. Its big downfall is the lack of robustness with repeated bending, an inherent flaw in wearable devices. Because its nearly impossible to avoid flexing on jackets or pants, EL Wire has been slow to be adopted in the wearable community. Laser Wire TM Systems use a completely different technology to provide a similar aesthetic but provide a brighter alternative that is able to integrate into garments easier. Because the technology is more similar to an optical fiber than relying on a voltage and frequency, Laser Wire does not have to be constrained to avoiding flexing situations. It also allows color changing options, light weight electronics, more durability, and increased flexibility compared to other lighting technologies.

Laser Wire TM Systems use a completely different technology to provide a similar aesthetic but provide a brighter alternative that is able to integrate into garments easier. Because the technology is more similar to an optical fiber than relying on a voltage and frequency, Laser Wire does not have to be constrained to avoiding flexing situations. It also allows color changing options, light weight electronics, more durability, and increased flexibility compared to other lighting technologies.

The introduction of these two products are inevitably going to change the landscape in the future of wearable lighting. Be prepared to start seeing lighting coming from snowboards, skateboards, bicycles, helmets, outerwear, tents, and countless other sporting goods over the coming years.

Written By

Justin Metras has been involved in the advancement of Electroluminescent, LED and Laser technologies since 2006 and an all-around lighting enthusiast.

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