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The World’s Largest, Widest or Tallest

Electronic Digital Signage in Ireland and China

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Ireland is a small, open, trade-dependent economy and is one of the fastest-growing economies in the developed world. It constitutes around 1.8% of overall output in the Euro Area.” — The Economic and Social Research Institute Dublin “Even if the Chinese float their currency, it won’t stop the flow of jobs from the United States…” — Clyde Prestowitz, president, Economic Strategy Institute Washington, D.C. Right off, I want to stop a rumor concerning the LED lights mounted in the top of the Dublin Spire (Dublin, Ireland). Located in midtown Dublin, the Dublin Spire is a modern replacement for Nelson’s Pillar, a 134-ft.-high stone edifice erected in 1808 that, unfortunately, was blown up in 1966. The new Spire — a winning entry in an architectural design competition — is built of stainless steel, steel and aluminum. It contains, possibly, the world’s highest, tower-mounted LEDs. The Spire extends skyward to a height of 394 ft. Its base diameter is 9 ft. 9 in., and it tapers to 6 in. wide at the top. Its uppermost section (the top 30 ft.) contains an array of 1,200 LEDs. Last May, I heard a rumor about the Spire’s LEDs at LightFair (held in New York City), when an unnamed person chose to lecture me on the inefficiencies of LED lighting. He leaned forward and, very hush-hush, said I should look to the Dublin Spire for evidence of LEDs’ true nature. He said the Spire’s LED lighting was a fiasco. I’m sure this informer thought I would carry his story forward; instead, I investigated the facts to see if it was true. It wasn’t. To track the rumor, I called Dublin’s city office to learn the identity of the Spire’s general contractor. My second call, to the contractor’s office, provided me with the name of the LED manufacturer — Lumileds Lighting, LCC (San Jose, CA). I contacted Lumileds Americas marketing manager, Fran Douros, and told her of the rumor. I asked if she would help me gather information. She agreed. Within days, she had contacted the United Kingdom lighting contractors and returned with details. Further, she gave me her contacts’ names and telephone numbers, so I could confirm her information. Here are the facts: The Spire’s original LED lighting system failed because the earliest designers, inexperienced in LED systems, directed too much voltage into the lamps. They burned out prematurely, as any lamp would. A troubleshooting assessment resulted in a new lamp system being engineered and installed under the supervision of LEDA-Light Ltd. (Chelmsford, Essex, England). Richard Deal owns LEDA-Light, and he was the new LED system’s electrical design engineer. He was also the first name on the telephone list Fran provided me. I telephoned him, a few months after the installation, and asked how well the lights were working. He said they were working just fine. In fact — and I read this elsewhere — the Lumileds installation went so well that Richard’s company received recognition from the Dublin City Council. I explained the New York City rumor, and he confirmed Fran’s facts. Then, proudly, he gave me more details on the Spire and its LED lighting system. He said you can see the Spire’s white, 2,000-candela aviation lights from 15 miles out. Then he described how the 1,200 Lumileds Luxeon high-power LEDs (the architectural-design lighting elements) are arrayed on cables that spiral around a vertical, aluminum mainstay. This mainstay and the arrayed LEDs are behind four 30-ft. openings (vertical window slots) in the Spire’s uppermost segment. Richard says the LEDs’ cables sway as the wind passes through the openings, causing the lights to twinkle as they pass backward and forward, behind the external carapace. “It’s very beautiful,” he said, “like twinkling Christmas lights.” He added that the Dublin city manager, upon seeing the Spire lit for the first time, said it was absolutely fantastic. Vertical spotlights, set into a ground-based surround, light the Spire’s base. Richard explained that, because the Spire’s circumference diminishes as it ascends, its internal- access ladder tops out at approximately 250 ft. — roughly 150 ft. from the top. Here, he said, the internal access becomes narrower than a man’s shoulders. From this point, a smallish, cable-winch system carries the LED structure to the top. A docking sensor detects the arriving lamp structure and triggers the winch to stop; the final movement couples the system to built-in electrical connectors. The installation went like clockwork, Richard said. Let’s move from the highest to the widest LED installation category. You can’t have watched CNN or Fox News over the past few weeks without seeing the “world’s largest television screen” story, as reported from the Hong Kong Jockey Club’s Sha Tin Racecourse (Happy Valley, Hong Kong). It may truly be the “world’s largest,” but it isn’t a television screen, as you’ve surely guessed — it’s a Mitsubishi Diamond Vision LED screen, that, according to the Jockey Club press releases, is as wide as a Boeing 747 airliner is long. The screen, installed on August 15, is 231 ft. long and 26 ft. high and can be divided into six sections. The screen was entered into the Guinness Book of World Records. Prior to this, Oslo, Norway claimed the world’s largest movie image (projected, not digital) at the Oslo Spektrum concert hall and indoors sports arena. There, in 1996, the Oslo Municipal Cinemas crew projected the Norwegian premier showing of Independence Day, a 70mm space-invader flick, onto a 132-ft.-wide screen for 4,500 spectators. This screen was also entered into the Guinness Book of World Records. Guinness records the world’s largest cinema theatre as New York City’s Radio City Music Hall; it opened on December 27, 1932, with 5,910 seats. The Hong Kong Jockey Club’s publicity says the Diamond Vision screen is equal to 4,500, 21-in. television sets. The pixel formation is Diamond Vision’s standard four-LED cluster: red, red, green and blue. The system produces one billion colors; it has 40 different screen-format combinations and can produce up to six simultaneous, real-time displays. In mid-September, CNN.com, reporting on home-use television (flat-screen) monitors, said the race for dominance is between plasma and LCD, although it mentions OLED technology as an up-and-coming faction. A quick trip to Sears or Best Buy will tell you plasma leads the pack, although CNN says standard CRTs still hold 97% of the $31 billion global TV market. CRTs remain the reasonable price choice. Interestingly, the news agency reports that LCDs outsell plasma in Japan, with smaller homes being the stated reason. Still, the Japanese may know something we don’t. CNN also reports that South Korean and Taiwanese companies plan to invest $25 billion in LCD technology. At present, Sharp Corp. (Japan) and Samsung Electronics (South Korea) are the top LCD screen makers. Mitsubishi Electric Corp. (Japan) constructed the Hong Kong Jockey Club screen; Mitsubishi Electric (Hong Kong), a wholly owned subsidiary, is the local Diamond Vision provider. It has offices in Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Shenzhen. The racetrack screen demonstrates Hong Kong’s improved economy. Asia Times magazine says Hong Kong, a Special Administrative Region (SAR) of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) since July 1, 1997, is the world’s 12th-largest banking center (external transactions). Its stock market, in terms of market capitalization, is the world’s 10th largest, and Hong Kong is the 7th-largest financial center in foreign-exchange turnover. The city’s economic reports show recent increases in business activity — the Hang Seng Index was up 18% at the end of August — and the city’s imports were up 12.1%, with exports up 13.5%. Further, the Chinese government has implemented a “Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement” (CEPA), which, in short, is a free-trade agreement between Hong Kong and the Mainland. U.S. News and World Report, in its September 15 article, “China Conundrum,” says China’s economy is $1.12 trillion, the world’s sixth largest. However, the U.S. News writer, Matthew Benjamin, says China purposefully manipulates its yuan to keep export prices down. This, says Benjamin, allows China’s manufacturers to sell at lower prices. He contrasts a $27 U.S.-made Ford truck taillight against a $19, China-made unit. China, today, makes one third of the world’s televisions — the fear is that it will mass produce semiconductors. Intel, in fact, has announced plans to build a $375-million semiconductor plant in Chengdu.

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