Everyone’s eyes are on light-emitting diodes
' (LEDs) massive gains in brightness lately. Soon we’ll be seeing LED
headlights in cars and other high-end high-brightness
applications. (This will eventually extend into lower-cost
applications as the price of the technology comes down.) The replacement of incandescent lamps by high-output LEDs is a major revolution in lighting, and will impact the industry almost as hard as the invention of the light bulb in the first place.
But the other revolution is in the abundance of tiny, cheap, and low-power color LEDs. They enhance the value (or irritate people, depending on taste) of electronics from toasters to TV remotes. You can buy a 4-millimeter high LED in colors such as blue, green, orange, red, and yellow for less than 20 cents that only needs two milliamps to light up, and can do it at temperatures from –40° to 185°F!
Soon, every switch, lever, button, dial, and knob will be illuminated. (The other side of the coin is that every device can and may sport blinking lights from every protuberance.)
The ability to use LEDs with low profile, cost, and power use to put a light into nearly anything will enable new devices and ideas for their use, possibly with far more impact than their high-power brethren.