Interview with Tony McGettigan, Director and CEO of LUXIM


I recently had the pleasure of having an interview with the director and CEO of Luxim, Tony McGettigan.  Luxim is the company that has created the LIFI source – the HID source that is practically the size of a Tic Tac and puts out insane amounts of lumens.  120 lumens per Watt, to be more precise.  Luxim’s LIFI lamp also doesn’t have any electrodes – it’s fired by an RF “pump” of sorts.  People need to watch Luxim, they’re going to be huge.

The Interview:

JimOnLightWhere did Luxim find the inspiration to attack such a vital improvement in energy efficiency, color rendering, and output?  The LIFI systems being developed by Luxim are no small feat – what was the muse for the project?

Tony of Luxim:  Thanks Jim and great question.  The initial motivation was to find a long life, high color quality source for projection display systems such as business projectors and more importantly Rear Projection Televisions.  That’s where LIFI® got its start.  In fact, you may not know this, but we have over 60,000 LIFI® light sources installed in a variety of projection display products.

But, from the outset we knew that the technology had a much broader reach and we expanded into markets where color and life are critical.  Sustained R&D initiatives kept producing new efficiency breakthroughs and we soon had a technology that could compete on the basis of efficiency, life and color.

JimOnLightThis may sound like an odd question, but do people understand what Luxim has developed with LIFI?  This technology should be everywhere that HIDs are used.  How are customers and clients reacting to the introduction to such a lucrative product on the market?

Tony of Luxim:  LIFI® is increasingly being recognized as a breakthrough lighting technology.  Seeing is believing, especially when it comes to light sources.  When we show the compact package with high efficiency, excellent color and high output, people immediately understand the breakthrough and are as excited as we are about LIFI’s potential.

We are seeing very broad interest in LIFI® across several segments, including instrumentation, entertainment, architectural and outdoor lighting.  Moving forward, we expect to generate further breakthroughs in efficiency, color temperature and lumens output.  This will expand our range in the existing markets and open new market segments.

JimOnLightThe Entertainment Lighting market is a place Luxim can very sharply make a difference – you have a section of the Luxim website devoted to LIFI Entertainment products.  How has the Entertainment Lighting market been helpful, or have they been unhelpful?  I think of how absolutely product-changing a LIFI source in a DL2 projector would be, or how hardened LIFI lamps would reduce load-in time on the road in moving lighting.  Has the Entertainment market latched onto Luxim yet?

Tony of Luxim:  Entertainment lighting is a great match for our technology for several reasons.  High output from a small package is a must, color quality is critical and the ability to improve efficiency, durability and life is highly valued.  Many of these systems swap out sources every 400 hours: with LIFI® life can be extended to 10,000 hours.  Several of these systems have an overall efficacy of 15-30 LPW:  with LIFI® this can be improved to 30-45 LPW.  Improving efficiency has the added advantage of reducing fan size and noise.

So far, we’ve had a terrific response from entertainment lighting manufacturers.  The customer base has been very receptive and the industry experts have been informative and helpful.  We appreciate the enthusiasm for our technology and we look forward to working closely with the industry over the next several years.  We are confident you’ll see better products AND new types of products and architectures.

JimOnLightAre you working with any specific vendors or manufacturers for Entertainment Lighting products?  I can’t say that I have noticed Luxim’s LIFI products to be saturating the market, which is a shame considering the beauty you’ve brought to the market.  Where can I find your goods?

Tony of Luxim:  Thanks for the comments.  To put things in context, we first showed LIFI® at ProLight in 2008 and we were already in a couple of products by LDI 2008.  I can’t say too much, but keep your eyes peeled in 2009.  Longer term, our goal is to be in EVERY important entertainment lighting system by 2011.

JimOnLightA technical geek observation – I noticed on the LIFI Entertainment products site that the indensity distribution is listed as Lambertian, whereas some of the the civil works products from Luxim are listed to be distributing in a forward-emitting fashion.  How exactly does the LIFI system consider optical systems with regards to ellipsoidal and spherical reflector systems?  For the reader’s benefit, we all know Lambertian reflectance as an even distribution of intensity across a surface to all viewers.  How do the LIFI Entertainment sources achieve what seems like you’re saying is a flat field?  Lighting Designers are used to a beam/field split to deal with, how does this change?

Tony of Luxim:  When we say forward emitting, what we mean is that all the light is moving in the same direction along the optical axis.  In this sense a LIFI® source is much like an LED.  When we say Lambertian, what we mean is that the angular distribution of the emitted rays is similar to a Lambertian distribution with a peak on axis and a general inverse cosine distribution.

Two effects, intrinsic to the source, help create the flat field.  In the first place, unlike a conventional HID lamp, light does not leave the LIFI® source directly.  Instead, the light recirculates in a reflective cavity.  This recirculation broadens the spectrum and reduces brightness and color variation across the source.  These effects all help produce the uniform spot.

A second aspect relates to the collection optics design.  Traditional systems use imaging optics (elliptical, spherical reflectors).  These designs are based on a system that duplicates the spatial pattern of the source at a secondary aperture, thereby duplicating the spatial/color variation.  Because LIFI® emits in a forward pattern, different collection optic designs can be used including designs that will further homogenize color and brightness producing a more uniform disc of light at the aperture.

JimOnLightFor a client wanting to completely retrofit a touring light rig with LIFI sources – is Luxim to that point with the LIFI technology?  Is Luxim prepared for the lighting market’s mad dash to you once they realize the magic you’ve developed?

Tony of Luxim:  The products we have today can displace conventional 250-550Watt HID sources.  We are expanding the line-up to cover the full range of wattages and color temperatures used in entertainment lighting products.

With respect to readiness, we already have the global supply chain and manufacturing capacity in place to build more than 1000 units/day.  Building that infrastructure was a big priority when we first set out to supply LIFI® technology to global manufacturers of rear-projection televisions.  So we are in a very good position to satisfy initial demand. We also have a strategy that allows us to scale capacity rapidly and cost effectively.

JimOnLightWhat has the experimentation and control been like for LIFI in the, say, Automated Lighting world?  Have the LIFI lamps seen any beta testing on major market tours?  Are designers starting to ask for the LIFI system by name?

Tony of Luxim:  We test at two levels:  LIFI® testing is done by Luxim while application level testing is done at the customers’ sites.  The Luxim internal testing is extensive with 250 test beds at our Sunnyvale facility and a further 750 test beds at our contract manufacturer.  A number of customers have completed application level qualification while several more are finalizing designs and beginning qualification testing.

Suffice to say that the LIFI® brand is resonating with influential fixture manufacturers globally with key people asking specifically for LIFI® solutions by name.  This momentum is a tribute to the strength of the technology but it also tells us that there’s a need for new high-efficiency light source solutions that combine high-output, great color advantages and a longer life in a very compact package.

JimOnLight Can you give the readers an idea as to what kinds of specialty projects that Luxim might be involved with to date?  Let’s stick to basically non entertainment, non civil (street lamps, overhead illumination, etc) and focus in on medical technology and analytical lighting and products.

Tony of Luxim:  I’m glad you raised the topic of opportunities for LIFI® in medical instrumentation applications. We believe that LIFI® has great potential here.  I cannot give too much detail because of confidentiality agreements, but I can say that you will see five or six different types of medical products with integrated LIFI® solutions in 2009.  It is a great thrill for us to know our products are helping leading scientists in their research and helping physicians save lives.  Again, it speaks to the breadth and potential for LIFI® technology.

JimOnLight I appreciate you bearing with me on all of these questions.  People need to know about LIFI and Luxim!  So, what’s next for Luxim?  What’s in the future for the company, and where has R+D found itself lately?

Tony of Luxim:  We are still in our infancy and there is great potential for growth and success.  But, we want to be smart and pragmatic in how we grow our business and how we continue to innovate on the technology front.

Our main focus moving forward is efficiency.  Did you know that powering a high-output lamp generates about the same amount of Carbon Dioxide in a year as driving a family car 15,000 miles?  At the same time, the investment needed to upgrade the lamp is fifty times less than the investment needed to upgrade the car.  That potential for high-energy savings at modest investment levels creates a huge opportunity for us and it’s what galvanizes our R&D team.  Everywhere we look, we see opportunity to make things better by improving efficiency.  Efficiency reduces energy costs, simplifies infrastructure and abates climate change.  So we are all about being more efficient, without compromising the quality of the experience.

At Luxim, we are privileged to lead such a mission and we appreciate your interest and support.

Watch for us!

Tony, thanks again for the interview.  We are looking forward to seeing Luxim as a “household” name in the lighting industry! readers, go check out Luxim’s product line – it’s incredible.

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  1. I had the pleasure of working with Tony …oh… 17 years ago. Even better, we spent some time outside of work: we drank a bit, hiked a bit, had some nice times. To be young…

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