The Lamp that Outlives You

Jake Dyson knew LED lights were cheap and efficient. He also knew they should last much longer than just the few years most manufacturers were producing.

Whereas most of the market has leveraged lousy design to turn LEDs into a disposable product, Dyson wanted to elevate the LED to a post-disposable electronic treasure, an heirloom light that could be passed from one generation to another.

The thing they were all doing badly was not cooling the LEDs, and not putting any scientific design into improving those,” he says. “They just need to roll out a new product every year. It’s more about putting out the latest LEDs and packaging it, and selling it, rather than looking at how something might last forever.

The Fox isn’t any kind of enterprising genius, but doing what the market does just because that’s what everyone in the market is doing is not generally a recipe for stellar products or significant innovation. (Or inclusion in the Fox’s blog.)

“LEDs are semi conductors,” Dyson reasons aloud, “and semiconductors are used in computers. And the way they cooled semiconductors in computers was using heat pipes.” The answer to the LED problem wouldn’t be found in the LED industry. It would be found in the computer industry. But while Dyson had realized heat pipes could probably solve the LED overheating issue, his studio couldn’t figure out the technology on their own.

Nobody else was trying to solve the problem. They were just making more of the same and selling as many as they could. Dyson was willing to follow the trail much further than the established manufacturers.

I dumped my whole box of them out on the table, and they said they manufactured every single unit,” Dyson recounts of the chips branded by companies like HP, Apple, and Intel. “We very quickly realized, this is the company we have to work with to create our heat pipe. But unlike other companies that came to them with a design to manufacture, we asked them to design it with us using their knowledge.

Dyson’s team brought the company that knew more about heat pipes than anyone else on the planet directly into the design process. The result?

Dyson LED Lamp

As of today, the CSYS is going on the market as one of the most expensive table lamps you’ve probably ever seen–priced at $900. As ridiculous as that may appear, their own math argues that over 30 years, the lamp’s energy and bulb savings (against CFLs) will actually save the buyer money while helping the environment.

At $900, they won’t sell many. But don’t be fooled. The value of this engineering will last even longer than these lamps, and will certainly produce fruit in another industry far beyond your office desk.

Fox Tip: You have to be willing to look longer and travel farther than your competition to be truly innovative.

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