Alton Brown?

January 8, 2015 Brett Farley

Last summer my colleagues and I made our annual pilgrimage to Las Vegas to participate in InfoComm 2014. As most people do when away from the home base, we went out most evenings to take in some of the local culinary delights and blow off a little steam from the day’s onslaught of A/V technology gawkers.

One evening we (all 15 of us) decided to visit a steak house of some repute around the corner from our hotel. This storied establishment apparently had hosted a long line of famous and infamous visitors over the years, running the gamut from Hollywood starlets to nefarious underworld crime bosses…and was rumored to have the best steaks in Vegas. The maître’s di sequestered our party in a private room off the main dining room for the comfort and safety of the other patrons.

During a break in the table conversation I excused myself to visit the restroom and upon my trip back to my seat, I was shamelessly gawked at by a full table of A/V tourists in the main dining room…muttering under upheld hands to their neighbors. Once back in the safety of my tribe I began inspecting my clothing for self-inflicted stains, checking to see that my zipper was secure in the upright and locked position, and trying to determine if there were hors di oeuvres fragments stuck in my teeth.

After a minute or two, the mystery of their unbridled curiosity became apparent. The waiter, returning to our party, tapped me on the shoulder and asked me “You’re not Alton Brown by chance are you?”


Now, this isn’t the first time I’ve had this experience. Apparently I hold some close resemblance to this celebrity chef of the Food Network…or so I’ve been told. I don’t see it frankly but then again, “Brown is in the eye of the beholder”.

I of course answered “no” and the waiter being a bit of a sport said “would you like to be for a few minutes? There’s a table of people out there in the dining room who think you are.” So…I went with it and followed him to the table and proceeded to sign autographs on cocktail napkins, take selfies with the guests, and make recommendations from the ample menu. I’m sure several of them posted evidence to their Facebook pages that they were in the company of culinary royalty during their stay in “Fabulous Las Vegas” – and consequently looked like fools once they sobered up the next day.

This laughable experience brought to mind something else less humorous in my line of work: the world of large-scale visualization manufacturing…”not all LEDs are what they seem”. We’ve all seen them by now…indoor LED displays. Why are there so many different companies manufacturing, selling, and installing so many variations of what appear to the novice as the same product?

We’re apt to think to ourselves “an LED is an LED right? They all look the same.”

Well, if that were the case – LED displays would be a commodity, like semiconductor chips and pork bellies. So what is important to know when evaluating seemingly identical or near identical technologies?

Binning:  Binning is a term that relates to the manufacture of a particular group or batch of LEDs.

For example: let’s say one LED fab creates a run of LEDs on a given day that are in the color wavelength of 490 to 495 nanometers or what appears to your eye as Green. The same fab then creates LEDs on the next day with the same machine that have a wavelength of 495 to 500 nanometers. On day three they create LEDs with the same machine that have a wavelength of 505 to 510 nanometers. This would create 3 different Bins of the same type (color) led but with 3 different color wavelengths.  If these LEDs were used on one display the display would look patchy or blotchy due to the different color LEDs.

For truer coloration and pantone matching – especially for branding purposes (Coke red, Microsoft blue, etc.) an LED display should have panels or boards using one particular bin or batch of LEDs – and the narrower the binning rate, the truer the color and the more consistent across the entire display. Even tedious calibration exercises will not eliminate wide ranges of inconsistency by LED manufacturers. NanoLumens makes sure to offer customers the most reliable LEDs possible. So if you ever put our display next to another, you can know ours will last longer, be more efficient, and look the best. Because our products are designed and assembled in America, we know every step in the process of creating our displays, from our calibration process to our LED testing.

NanoLumens makes the building of a display gourmet. When we order LEDs from manufacturers, we always check for the LEDs to be binned. LED binning is a system where LEDs are grouped by their color intensity and wavelength. This helps groups of LEDs look better, but not best. NanoLumens takes the extra leap to give our customers the best. Binned LEDs are sent in sets, and NanoLumens groups them together to create displays. However, when different binned LED sets are set next to each other, the display looks sloppy and patchy because different areas have different intensity levels or a different wave lengths. With our unique calibration process, NanoLumens can insure quality and reliability to every display we make. NanoLumens’s engineers take a series of images of the display with a Nikon 7D camera, and a program called NOVACLB displays the values the LEDs are showing. A coefficient is computed and distributed to create an equal and even display.

Okay great! Now the LED display looks consistent and sparkles in the sunlight like Edward Cullen, but with our testing methods, this display will last just as long as a Cullen family member.

NanoLumens uses Pulse Width Modulation. Pulse Width Modulation is a procedure that turns the display on and off constantly rather than the conventionally method of leaving the display on for hours. Our method of testing is better because it is much more applicable in real life; it’s like a teenage girl bored on a Saturday night turning the T.V. on and off and on and off.

But wait! There’s more!

Not only do we offer  quality, but we offer quantity in our warranty.

NanoLumens’  offers visualization solutions in any size, shape or curvature with SMD LEDs that not only combine red, green, and blue, but also SMD LEDs with a matte finish on the face while other LEDs have a glossy finish on the face. This glossy finish on the face can reflect light which can cause a display to have less contrast and not look as bright. So imagine someone who got too many botoxes to the face and has applied too much lotion to their face. Too glossy is not too pretty. Also, NanoLumens SMD packaging allows us to display little to no ingress. The more ingress an SMD LED has, the more points of failure available for LED component inside the SMD package. Therefore, our ability to check our SMD packaging for a minimum of ingress gives people like you, our lovely customers, a six year warranty!

So I may have looked like Alton Brown to everyone else, and our LEDs may look like any other LED, but as the famous, wise, and powerful Optimus Prime would say, “There’s more to them than meets the eye.”

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Brett Farley

Director, Strategic Business Development

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