CeeLite™ is the first manufacturer to offer Light Emitting Capacitor (LEC) technology resulting in a nearly paper thin, continuous illumination lighting product. Dubbed the “flat light bulb,” the company's LEC technology uses Osram Sylvania's phosphors, its own Flatline Inverters, and uniquely customizable packaging. This is the first product of its type I have seen, and I find it to be incredibly unique with a plethora of applications, many of which have yet to be conceived.
A system consists of a panel, relatively small CeeLite Flatline Inverter, and a jumper cable. Connecting my demonstration package took a few seconds, and once powered up, it was clear this was something different. The panel feels like thickly laminated, 110lb. paper stock. Actually, it is laminated, maintaining the malleability you have with a poster board, easily conforming to a curved surface, but without memory, so the panel must be framed out to keep a shape. The coating leaves a slightly sloping edging of 1/8" or so of clear laminate around the edge, which would most likely have to be dealt with during installation. Currently, panel size is limited to 4'×8', but several panels can be nearly seamlessly butted together, and many shapes other than rectangular are possible.
A direct view product, CeeLite is more about what is created with the physical product rather than its produced visible light. The panels do not light the room; they become a part of what they are applied to or have applied to them. Imagine backlight displays with only mild thickness, as opposed to inches thick conventional displays, all without the complication of diffusing multiple fluorescent tubes. The panel is spotlessly illuminated edge-to-edge with no fall off and a good dimming performance. Measured in candelas, a panel can be configured to output from 0 to a maximum brightness of 300cd/m. While this is bright, greater output would be ideal. In some applications, the output may not be enough, and anyone considering using the product should mock it up initially.
Much of the product's marketing surrounds the installation in the display and event industries. Backlight displays seem to be the mainstream use, with other “wall of light” applications secondary. Lamp life varies from 6,000 to 10,000+ hours, depending on this energy input, and thus, the intensity of the panel. With fluorescent life averaging 20,000 hours, and LED technology hovering around a mean 50,000 hours life with its own reliability issues, the complexity and costs associated with CeeLite installation may lead one to want more life right now. Sure, running the panel at a lower intensity increases life to acceptable terms, but CeeLite looks remarkable when it is bright.
Color is next, and it's met with somewhat mixed reactions, as only white is available. My demonstration panel was greenish, with a color temperature of 11,000K. What is actually shipping now is in the more acceptable 7,000K range. The color is really of little concern if one accepts it and designs accordingly. For my evaluation, I applied several samples of projection images that are output on either Kodak DuraClear or Illford Ilforchrome Classic clear film processed by a Durst Lambda Lightjet. Here is where the panel's color is adapted to the application, and it really does work. So, I say a mixed review on color in the sense that the panel's hue can work for or against you, and when using design to filter, pulling the color into the desired realm, CeeLite works.
As a designer, I find it tremendously exhilarating to be shown new technology contributing fresh potential, particularly with the assimilation of light in design. I refer to design in a more universal sense here; this is not merely a lighting product, it is a medium in which to design. Whether it is the integration of a luminous graphic image in a piece of furniture, a completely thin moon box in a classical production of the prolific story ballet Giselle, or an evenly illuminated wall surface, CeeLite creates a practical means of creating an object of light.
“Designers have never before had a practical means of or experience in creating surface illumination,” says CeeLite president Malcolm Hayward. “We are working on, and it is my dream to someday soon have, luminous wallpaper.” Hayward is on the right track, particularly with something as common as wallpaper being a product of his panels. Eventually, this will not be limited to specialty industries but could greatly affect everyday life as well, much as MR-16 or compact fluorescent lamp technology has done in the past.