Luxim, which makes a tiny lightbulb that gives off as much light as a streetlight, has raised $12 million more and announced that noted VC Mike Moritz of Sequoia Capital is stepping in as chairman.
The company has developed a light bulb that generates light by pumping radio frequency waves into a resonant cavity that's about the size of a Tic Tac. The interaction between the waves and the crystal cavity convert trapped gases inside the cavity into light.
The trick is that the amount of light is ostentatious. One of the bulbs can provide the same amount of light as a street light or a spotlight but with less energy. A single one can light up a conference room pretty well (See the video here). The quality of the light is also superior to many conventional lights and closer to natural sunlight.
Like a few other new age light bulb companies (Lumiette, Vu1, several OLED companies), the technology harks back to televisions (see Television the Innovator in Green Lighting). Luxim originally sold its bulb to projection TV makers. After that market dwindled away, it moved toward outdoor and architectural lighting.
And, like Philips and other lighting companies, Luxim is trying to move away from just making light sources to complete fixtures. Since these new types of lights last thousands of hours longer than the traditional lights they are replacing, there is far less opportunity for repeat business. Hence, vendors are trying to get as much revenue as they can at the first crack.
Luxim earlier raised around $60 million, so the total funding is close to $72 million. Sequoia and Crosslink Capital were early investors.
While lighting doesn't receive as much attention as solar or biofuels, it is expected to be one of the growth markets for greentech. Approximately 22 percent of the electricity used in the U.S. goes to lighting, according to an oft-quoted statistic from the Department of Energy, and light sources weren't designed for efficiency. Incandescent bulbs only use around 5 percent of the energy fed into them for light: The rest gets converted into heat. (That's why Easy Bake ovens work.) The U.S., the E.U., Australia and other governments have already passed laws mandating that incandescents be phased out over the coming decade.
Like LEDs, Luxim's lights cost more than incumbent solutions, but the company says the difference can be made up in lower replacement rates, lower maintenance costs, and lower power bills. Additionally, Luxim's bulbs can also be remotely controlled by sensors to crank the amount of light coming out of them up or down, depending on foot traffic and other factors.
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