A few very interesting things are happening this week with regards to moving lights and technology - Pro Light and Sound is going on in Frankfurt, and Robe announced a new moving light with Luxim's LIFI technology utilized.
I've been a pretty big fan of a company called Luxmin for some time now - just recently (as in the last day), we've all heard that Robe Lighting has come out with a fixture using something called "LIFI Plasma" technology. What the heck is this, you might be asking yourself, and why do I care? Well, plasma lamp technology is new-ish, as of a few years ago, and it's now hitting the markets with collaborations like the one that has happened with Robe.
Okay, now what exactly is the LIFI lamp? Luxim has developed a light source that is electrodeless and powered by RF. The lamp - in this case, let's talk about the entertainment series lamp - is about the size of an extra-strength Tylenol. It's a little pill of a lamp with a tough quarts envelope. When RF is applied to this lamp, several things happen: the RF field ionizes the gasses that are mixed in with the metal halides in the lamp and creates a gas plasma, which then vaporize the metal halide salts, which then join the plasma and create a very, very bright light. Very bright. We're talking ridiculously bright for something that small. Here's a link to a YouTube video explaining more about the source.
A simple process diagram:
I interviewed Tony McGettican from Luxim a few days ago, and I asked him about a rumor I heard regarding LIFI lamps and a new Robe product - but since nothing had happened yet, he couldn't tell me anything. However, I have information from another source that tells me the new Robe ROBIN 3 Plasma Spot is using Luxim's LIFI-ENT-31-02 lamp, which has some pretty interesting specifications. What's so good about it? 17,800 lumens, a collimated forward-emitting pattern, it's small, it has an outstanding CRI of 94, you can apparently beat the hell out of the housing (making it good for road gear), and its lifetime is about six times that of existing HIDs. It sounds like it's perfect to be stuck in the back of a moving head.
What I find interesting about this new technological development is what it has the potential to do to every aspect of moving light technology - a brighter lamp means that someone might improve optical performance in objective sets, the lower operating heat might mean advancements in motors and internal components, and perhaps the high CRI might lead the way to new color formulations. Who knows, I'm really pulling this stuff from - well, let's just say under my desk. My hope is that Vari-Lite, Martin, High End, and the other major players pick this technology up pretty fast and run with it.
I believe in our industry. I'm excited to see what everyone invents.