Window dressing Lighting designers often use different types of equipment to create environments. The newest tool is suspended particle device (SPD) technology, commonly known as "smart glass" technology, which provides a unique method of controlling light transmission through glass and plastic. Research Frontiers of Woodbury, NY, has spent 30 years researching SPD and amassed 110 patents; the technology is now being licensed and incorporated into products that should appear later this year.

SPD technology can be incorporated into windows, computer screens, flat panel displays, personal eyewear, and automotive products like rearview mirrors. It can also be used in instruments that display digits and graphic images to create a more readable display. Changing ordinary windows to ones containing the smart glass technology can better control daylight, provide significant energy conservation, block harmful UV rays that can damage artwork and fabrics, and increase privacy--all without using window shades, venetian blinds, or curtains.

Research Frontiers vice president Joseph Harary adds, "With the trend toward incorporating more efficient use of daylight, an SPD smart window will be beneficial. Certainly the warmer climates will be early adopters of this technology. It will be available as a film for retrofitting existing windows and as new window glass."

Developing the technology and manufacturing processes has been long and difficult. Imagine two vertical surfaces, with a space between them. Within the two electronically coated surfaces is the SPD or suspended particle device, referring to the light-absorbing microscopic particles suspended between the two electrically conductive surfaces. The entire SPD (suspended particles and electrically coated surfaces) is then enclosed in the final product. "This three-part sandwich is sent to a final product manufacturer for incorporation into windows or other products," explains Harary.

The user can control the amount of light transmitted through the device by adjusting the electrical voltage. According to Research Frontiers, in the "off" state (when no voltage is applied), the particles are randomly dispersed and absorb light, creating an opaque appearance. In the "on" state, the particles align and the glass or plastic changes from opaque to clear. As with a dimmer, if a partial voltage is applied, the viewing area becomes only partly clear. Therefore, the user has complete control over the amount of transmitted light from the glass or plastic walls. Harary says, "The SPD technology incorporated into the window allows the user to connect any kind of sensing device, computer, photocell, or sensor."

Four licensees are developing products. Hankuk Glass Industries of Korea is developing glass-based materials. Material Sciences Corp. and Hitachi Chemical are developing other window coating products. Personal eyewear, like ski goggles and sunglasses, is being developed by Vision-Ease, the world's largest polycarbonate manufacturer, says Harary.

RESEARCH FRONTIERS Woodbury, NY

Laser blast Mobolazer has added the RG-Beam to the Mobo family of laser beam projectors. The unit adds reds, yellows, oranges, and greens to the Lil' G-Beam 8-aperture projector for discos and nightclubs. The exclusive Mobo variable color control allows users to generate a multitude of color combinations for each beam with just two DMX channels. The RG-Beam uses a 10mW green laser and a 30mW red laser for exceptional color balance and dramatically increased laser power, and solid state laser technology eliminates the high cost and hassles of lasers of the past, the company says. Mobolazer adds that the RG projector operates from 10 channels of DMX512 and is built in the US to the highest quality and safety standards. MOBOLAZER Thousand Oaks, CA

LEDing the way Lamp Technology now has a complete family of LEDs suitable for use in a variety of instrumentation and control panels. They have a rated life of over 10 years, eliminating the need for replacement of burned-out indicators and scheduled lamp replacement. The bright white light--400 millicandela on average--is also resistant to current inrush; since they draw little current to begin with, the LEDs generate minimal heat. Standard bases include midget groove, midget flange, BA9S, T5, 5K, and T5.5. Specification sheets are available. LAMP TECHNOLOGY Bohemia, NY

Spider strength Ledtronics has developed the SpiderLED as an extremely bright, small, long-life LED to replace incandescent lamps. The SpiderLEDs have better performance specifications than standard discrete LEDs, by dissipating heat away from the chip via a special heat-sinking lead frame design, according to the manufacturer. The SpiderLED has a lumen intensity of 450 at 30mA to 1,650 at 70mA, and has a low profile (4.4x7.62x7.62mm), permitting single or multiple SpiderLED configurations. The SpiderLED has high current capabilities and operates between 20mA and 70mA. Available colors include two shades of red, orange, amber, and yellow. LEDTRONICS Torrance, CA

Party time The Sonic Beam DMX-controllable, sound-driven lighting effects luminaire has rotating special effects and eight dichroic color/gobo combinations, plus white. Designed for clubs and parties, the Sonic Beam is equipped with its own preprogrammed routine and can be linked to other units (up to 16) via conventional XLR cables/connectors, for a coordinated lighting extravaganza. Sonic Beam uses four DMX channels, has an X/Y mirror movement of 180 degrees pan/90 degrees tilt, and weighs only 14lb.

The Party Gobo Lamp consists of a half mirror ball and four interchangeable gobo patterns. The mirror ball rotates 360 degrees at 3rpm, casting images of patterns that reflect on any surface illuminated. While a white light is standard, gel can be added for additional effects. Weighing only 4lb, the Party Gobo Lamp is fully equipped with four gobos and, along with the Sonic Beam, is economically priced. AMERICAN DJ SUPPLY Los Angeles, CA

Testing, testing . . . New products from Labsphere include a Lamp Measurement System that provides spectral or photo-optic lamp flux measurements, in conformance with the recommendations of CIE Publication 84. Integrating sphere diameters ranging from 25cm to 3m (10"-10') are available as part of the system.

Labsphere has also upgraded its LED-1100 Spectral/Goniometric Analyzer for the precise analysis of optical properties of LEDs. A new detachable socket assembly is now available, allowing for the measurement of many different LED types. A standard socket assembly accepts most TO style packages with 2-, 3-, and 4-pin leads. An optional assembly accepts a variety of in-line devices up to 3 leads. LABSPHERE North Sutton, NH

Water-tight connections Duraline multi-pin connector systems are fully waterproof AC connector systems that feature a unique reverse taper design that isolates each contact and creates a watertight seal. According to the manufacturer, the connectors may be used in up to 3' of water. The heavy-duty connectors have been designed to allow for the ground contact to "mate first and break last." Multi-pin waterproof connectors are built to customer specifications; are available with up to 20 contacts, from one to 1,200A, and from 12 to 5,000V; and are suitable for IEC Class IP67 and NEMA Class 6 applications. DURALINE Central Islip, NY