Hong Kong Symphony of Lights

How Are LED’s Used Across The World?

Since the first production of the LED light in 1962, the small light emitting diodes having been cropping up here, there and everywhere. Recent developments have meant that they are fast becoming a popular source of lighting around the home as well as in offices, cars and traffic signals.

Coupled with an increased focus on global energy-efficiency and advanced technology, LED’s now allow text, video displays whilst retaining a high life cycle and focused shock resistant emissions.

The European Commission has also recently announced that it may phase out the use of halogen bulbs due to their low energy-efficiency which follows their ban on incandescent bulbs in an effort to cut greenhouse gases altogether. It almost seems that these little LED’s are set to take over the world. But how are they used in other countries? In this article, BeamLED investigates how light emitting diodes are used around the world.



Let There Be Light… LED Light, That Is.
Image: Andrew Foyer via Flickr CC


The Melbourne Star – Australia

The Melbourne Star is a giant Ferris wheel located in Melbourne Docklands. It stands at 394 feet tall and has seven spokes reflecting the seven-pointed star of the Australian flag.

Designed by a team of experts involved in both the London Eye and Singapore Flyer, it was officially re-opened on December 23rd 2013 after a number of issues meant the wheel had to close after it was first unveiled to the public in 2008.

During the remodel it was billed as having “the world’s first LED lighting system” on an attraction of its kind and since its reopening has had three and a half kilometres of LED lighting engineered into the structure, offering over 15 million light combinations.

In addition to this, the Melbourne Star offers a nightly LED light show, lighting up the city skyline from dusk until midnight.

Tracy Hore, Head of Sales and Marketing at the Melbourne Star said, “The Melbourne Star Observation Wheel is the Southern Hemispheres only giant observation wheel and the first, more complex, solid steel wheel design to be built in the world to this size.  One of the major reasons this design was undertaken, as distinct to the design used for the other giant observation wheels in the world, was to incorporate three and a half kilometres of LED lighting within the Melbourne Star’s design; providing another dramatic element to the experience with a spectacular nightly lighting show involving more than 15 million different light combinations.”


Melbourne Star

Glowing Round Again – The Melbourne Star, Australia
Image: Nichollas Harrison via Wikimedia Commons

The Empire State Building – United States of America

The 102-storey skyscraper stood as the world’s tallest building for nearly 40 years until the World Trade Centre’s were built. It stands in New York City at a total of 1,454 feet high. Completed in 1931, it cost around $635 million dollars to make in today’s money.

Thought to be one of the seven wonders of the modern world, it is an attractive art-deco building and extremely well recognised addition to the New York skyline. In 1964, floodlights were added to the top of the building in order to illuminate the skies and since 1976 the lights have been chosen in accordance with seasonal events and festivities such as Independence Day and St. Patricks Day. After the 80th birthday of singer Frank Sinatra, the lights were bathed in blue to represent his moniker ‘Ol’ Blue Eyes’. Other occasions include red, white and blue lighting after the September 11 attacks which illuminated the skies for a number of months after the event, yellow lighting during the US Open and team colours during various other sporting events.

In 2010, the Empire State Building underwent a $550 million renovation with $120 million used to transform the building into an eco-friendly and energy efficient structure.

Meanwhile in 2012, a new computer-driven LED lighting system was installed which is capable of displaying 16 million different colours, all able to change instantaneously. The building also introduced its first synchronized light show in the same year, with music from Alicia Keys.


Empire State Building

Empire State Of Mind
Image: YoungKing11 via Wikimedia Commons


The Super Bowl XLIX – United States of America

The Super Bowl XLIX was an American football game to determine the champion of the National Football League for the 2014 season. It was the most watched show in the history of U.S television, having been watched by millions, peaking at over 120 million viewers who watched the New England Patriots defeat the Seattle Seahawks.

The game was held at the University of Phoenix stadium in Glendale, Arizona on February 1st 2015. Sports light fitter, Ephesus Light, installed brand new LED fixtures into the stadium before the game, the first time a stadium had ever been lit entirely with LED’s. The lighting consumption was said to have reduced from a whopping 1.24 million watts to an astonishing 310,000 watts for energy savings up to 75 percent.

Ephesus claim that the new fixtures provide brighter light, better colour accuracy and a clearer picture for viewers at home since the installation of the LED lighting system.


Super Bowl XLIX

“Ignite The Light”: Katy Perry’s Half-Time Super Bowl Show
Image: Joe Parks via Flickr CC

Chinese New Year – China & Malaysia

This year a number of cities and provinces across China and Malaysia celebrated in style for the Chinese New Year. In Kuala Lumpar, artificial cherry blossom trees with LED lights lit up the landscape whilst in Wuzhen in China’s Zhejiang Province, a lantern and light show festival illuminated the night sky which included LED lights and boats carrying a number of colourful lanterns.

The buildings of Hong Kong, meanwhile, were radiating with LED lights to celebrate the Year of the Ram and, apparently, also included a small nod to Hello Kitty.

And not all Chinese-themed lightshows took place over New Year either. Illuminations were also widespread for an event taking place in Britain called The Festival of Light in Wiltshire, ending in January. It was Europe’s largest display of Chinese illuminations which included 25 miles of LED lights, a giant dragon measuring 230 feet and a 65 feet tall Chinese temple.


Longleat Festival of Light

Lighting Up The World At Longleat Festival of Light
Image: David Farquhar via Flickr CC

A Symphony Of Lights – China

A Symphony of Lights is a daily light and sound show which takes place in Hong Kong every evening. According to the Guinness World Records it is the world’s largest permanent light and sound show.

It involves music, decorative lights, laser light displays and pyrotechnic fireworks and begins at 8pm Hong Kong time where it lasts for around 13 minutes. A number of lights are used throughout the show including lasers, searchlights, LED’s and projections.

Katie Lam of Hong Kong Tourism Commission said, “In promoting tourism development in Hong Kong, we also attach importance to and support environmental protection. The Symphony of Lights was implemented under the principles of environmental protection and energy conservation. “


Hong Kong Symphony of Lights

The Night Sky Comes Alive In Hong Kong
Image: Daniel Go via Flickr CC


LED Light Facials – United States of America & United Kingdom

First developed by NASA, the LED light in these facials is said to plump up aging skin, boost collagen and even treat acne. Also called light therapy, the LED works by sending packets of light into deep layers of the skin.

These treatments are painless and work to minimize fine lines, wrinkles, treat sun damage, reduce the appearance of stretch marks and even reduce redness in the skin. There are a number of different colours that emit light during an LED facial. Amber is said to build collagen and elastin, red is said to reduce inflammation and blue is said to destroy the acne-causing bacteria.

The process by which light is emitted by these types of facials is said to be very similar to that of photosynthesis in plants.

Joanna Vargas, Celebrity Facialist and Founder of Joanna Vargas Salon and Skincare Collection said, “LED Light Therapy is my favorite anti-aging weapon and it literally works on everyone! The most obvious are the anti-aging benefits to women 30 and up. It keeps up collagen production so your skin will get thicker and plumper while erasing fine lines. Even a woman in her 20’s can benefit because LED shrinks the pores like nothing else I have ever seen. It keeps the skin healthier in general, so it becomes less reactive to pollution and the stresses of life.”


LED Light Facials

Bringing Light To All
Image: NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center via Flickr CC

Skin Cancer Treatment – Iran

LED medical technology means LED’s are currently being used in Iran in the treatment of cancerous and precancerous skin lesions such as skin cancer stem cells and actinic keratosis (sun exposure). A faculty member of Tehran University of Medical Sciences confirmed that Iran could start to use LED in the treatment of skin cancer after it was confirmed that it is currently used in the treatment of dermatological diseases.


Skin Cancer Treatment

LED Skin Treatments Could Soon Be Coming To Iran
Image: Clonny via Flickr CC

LED Contact Lens – South Korea, Finland and the United States of America

Scientists from South Korea and researchers from both the US and Finland have developed a contact lens featuring a working LED light on a living eye.

Dubbed the ‘bionic contact lens’, the lens includes an antenna that receives power from radio waves, an integrated circuit to store energy and a transparent sapphire chip containing a blue LED. The contact lens has been developed to provide a virtual display that could have a range of uses from video gaming to helping those who are visually impaired when it becomes available.

The lens has a number of requirements before it was deemed safe including wireless capabilities and bio-compatibility.

LED’s were harnessed as the core technology behind the bionic eye due to their ability to form images in front of the eye in the form of words, charts and photographs. Previous prototypes have suggested that it is possible to create an electronic lens that is biologically safe and does not obstruct a person’s view.


LED Contact Lens

Augmented Reality?
Image: listentothemountains via Flickr CC

LED Eyelashes – South Korea/United Kingdom

Designed by a South Korean artist, Soomi Park began her project to explore the ‘fetish of big eyes’ and aimed to look at why women all over the world want larger eyes. She launched the LED eyelash project whereby the LED’s sit just underneath the eyes and are powered on or off as the head tilts.

The product features a sensor that detects the movements of the pupil in the eyes and eyelids. Soomi said, “I believe that the LED eyelash project gathered interest because it speaks to people’s underlying drive toward aesthetics.”

She also added, “LED Eyelash has shown that wearable technology can address both interior and exterior sides of human expressions. It also shows that wearable technology can stem from exploring human needs by developing insights from everyday lives.”

Similarly, a fashion show with an emphasis on technology also created some LED-inspired make-up with feather LED lashes, LED moustaches, LED hair pieces and even LED head wear after being inspired by Soomi Park’s lash project.


Soomi Park LED Eyelashes

Wearing Art On Your Face: Soomi Park’s LED Eyelashes.
Image: Soomi Park via SoomiPark.com


Growing Plants – Holland

The Dutch are industry leaders when it comes to greenhouse horticulture and are making some pioneering discoveries in LED horticulture too. The Dutch greenhouse economy has long been known as highly innovative and constantly on the search for new and applicable knowledge. Some Dutch researchers have recently found that strawberries grown using LED lighting are tastier, yield higher and have more vitamin C.

The Netherlands has been involved with LED lighting for plants since the early 1990’s and since then has even harnessed electricity from living plants which has then been used to power mobile phone chargers, Wi-Fi hotspots and over 300 LED streetlights. One company has managed to devise a method for growing plants indoors using a combination of red and blue LED lights, as opposed to sunlight. They have found that, with the perfect amount of nutrients and 10% the amount of water normally required plants such as beans, corn, tomatoes and strawberries have been successfully produced.

LED horticulture can achieved savings of up to 50% and has many more benefits than using traditional lighting such as the ability to change the colours of the lights, the position of the light source and the intensity of the light.


LED Plant Growing in Holland

Shining Bright To Encourage Crop Growth
Image: BBC via http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20130603-city-farms-to-feed-a-hungry-world/2


Horse Tail Lights – United States of America

This ingenious invention was created specifically with horse safety in mind. To avoid motorists and aid visibility in darkness or bad weather, these strips of LED’s attach to the horses tails through Velcro straps at the base. They have since been developed to include brow band lights and LED breast plates to further illuminate the horse whilst out riding.

The tail lights consist of six strips of colour-changing LED’s attached to a unit which contains a battery pack that has enough power for 15 hours of continual use. The LED’s also come with three brightness settings ranging from low for group rides to high which involves a yellow strobe effect for emergencies.


Horse Tail LED Lights

Horsin’ Around With LED Tail Lights
Image: Tail Lights via http://tail-lights.com/


Street Lighting – Canada, United Kingdom, Croatia, Lithuania, Serbia, India, United States of America and Spain

LED street lighting was initially rolled out in 2006 across Europe and South America with North America following in 2010 and Asia in 2012. Currently, a contract has been signed in Madrid to upgrade street lighting with what is being referred to as the “the world’s largest street lighting upgrade to date”.

In Lithuania, the replacement of lighting fixtures across some cities, including Vilnius, sees street lights that are 14 or more years older replaced with LED technology making it safer for pedestrians and drivers as well as saving costs.

In the UK, there are over 7 million street lights, most of which are 40 years old. There has been an increased focus in some cities to replace street lights to more efficient LED lighting fixtures. The UK is said to spend 300 million pounds a year on lighting public areas such as street lamps, hospital car parks and motorways and 80% of this expenditure could be saved by using cost-effective solutions such as LED’s.

An extra benefit of using LED’s in streets and highways is that the light will decrease in output as opposed to failing as many traditional non-LED lights do. Once an LED street light’s brightness decreases by 30% it is considered to be at the end of its life.

LED Street Lighting

Before And After LED Street Lighting
Image: http://nofilmschool.com/2014/02/why-hollywood-will-never-look-the-same-again-on-film-leds-in-la-ny



Traveling Sun – Norway

Two Scandinavian designers were inspired by the sun or rather its absence and thus created the Traveling Sun, a mobile LED light sculpture meant to stand in for the sun and its beams.

Ten foot in diameter it can be hung from a building or strapped to a vehicle and the colours vary from bright yellows to deep fuchsia tones reflecting the varying colours of the real sun.

Since 2012, the designers have been travelling across European cities that get little sunlight throughout the winter months with their artificial sun in tow as part of their project.


Traveling Sun LED

The Traveling Sun LED Art Project
Image: http://inhabitat.com/traveling-artists-light-up-the-winter-sky-with-a-giant-led-sun/

Lighting Giants – Croatia

Lighting Giants, a project by Croatian designer Dean Skira saw eight cranes at one of the oldest working shipyards in the world transformed into a giant light show, creating a new tourist attraction.

Built in 1865, Uljanik is one of the oldest working shipyards in the world, selected as a shipyard of the Austro-Hungarian navy. Today, it is used to construct all different types of ships from car transportation ships to bulk cargo ships.

The project was unveiled at the Visualia Festival in Pula where every hour, for 15 minutes, the light installation lit up the sky in over 16,000 LED colour combinations, all controlled by a Wi-Fi based remote control.


Lighting Giants Croatia

Lighting Up The Giants in Croatia
Image: Miro On/Off via Flickr CC


Do you know any weird and wonderful ways that LED’s are used? We’d love to hear from you so get in touch via Facebook, Twitter or leave a comment below.

And finally…

Here at BeamLED, we’ve created a handy little infographic outlining our top uses of LED’s around the world.

top 5 led uses around the world