Monday, February 07, 2011

LEDs the True Super Bowl XLV Halftime Stars

If you're a Packers fan, then last night was "a good night" for you. Regardless of what team you pulled for, if you're a fan of LEDs, then last night was definitely a good night -- no matter how you felt about the halftime singing.

The Black Eyed Peas, Slash and Usher all performed during the Super Bowl XLV (45, for you non-Romans) halftime show. The real halftime stars weren't the mega-musicians though, but instead the LED-clad backup dancers.

The dancers wore pale suits with what look like LED ribbons running vertically down their costumes. The lights alternated between green, white and red. It looks like they were controlled by switches on a utility belt worn by the dancers. In the last few seconds of the video, you can see two block-head dancers manipulating the controls to make their suits flash in different colors.

The dancers formed DDR-style arrows on the field and assembled as giant red hearts during the Black Eyed Peas song "Where is the Love?"

LEDs are ideal for illuminating costumes because they're very sturdy and they don't produce much heat. Ordinary household light bulbs are very fragile and get quite hot. An incandescent bulb lights up when electricity runs through its filament until the filament is hot enough to glow. Anyone who has touched a light bulb that has been on for a few hours knows how hot they can get.

LEDs, by contrast, light up when electricity runs through a diode, exciting atoms until they produce photons, or particles of light. Unlike conventional bulbs, LEDs can emit light of different colors.

About two decades ago, a woman named Gertrude Neumark Rothschild filed a patent for "Wide Band-Gap Semiconductors Having Low Bipolar Resistivity and Method of Formation," after she helped improve upon LEDs. Her improvements helped the development of LEDs eventually used in electronics like cell phones and flat-screen TVs.

A handful of major electronics companies used her patented information without giving her credit. In 2005, she took several of them to court and settled cases against them. Buoyed by that success, she filed more complaints against more major companies and settled with many of them. By late 2009, she had settled for almost $27 million for multiple patent violations. Friends, according to the Chronicle of Higher Education, said that for Rothschild, it was never about the money, but instead about fairness.

How about that for an LED star?

Inspired? Make your own LED suit!

1 comment:

  1. I read an interesting article in USA Today this morning that made me think of this blog post. It's about people's reactions to the death of incandescent light bulbs: