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In 1997, few people believed that LEDs could ever be bright enough and affordable enough to play a major part in lighting a stage. When Color Kinetics introduced their first product at LDI that year there was a collective expression of doubt about the feasibility of an LED PAR fixture.
If all doubts were not totally erased over the next 10 years, then they were obliterated when Royal Philips Electronics, the parent company to Philips Lighting, bought Color Kinetics for $791 million in 2007.
Around the same time, GLP and Elation introduced a moving yoke LED fixture that made believers of much of the professional lighting community. The Impression combined a total of 90 Luxeon K2 red, green and blue LEDs in a panning and tilting form factor that compared favorably with some discharge lamp automated color wash fixtures. The product served as a gateway for other manufacturers to enter the race to create the ultimate LED automated luminaire.
Today there are at least a dozen manufacturers offering a wide variety of LED fixtures that pan and tilt. The Vari-Lite VLX is among the latest to raise the bar in terms of light output, but the race has just begun. As development continues, new methods are being explored in order to manage heat and increase the efficiency and output of LED sources. New LED products with high color rendering are also being introduced, and new combinations of colored and white LEDs are being developed and manufactured. At the same time, the cost of LEDs continues to fall.
The next frontier for LEDs, the profile spot LED fixture, is already being explored, and new products will be finding their way to market in the near future. And if history is any indicator, they will be met with skepticism - at first. Until then, check out some of the color wash moving yoke LED fixtures available today.