Xicato is excited about the future

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Inside: Xicato CEO Menko de Roos excited about the future; About Flicker

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What's Inside

Xicato CEO Menko de Roos is excited about the future

About Flicker


Xicato is more excited than ever about the future!

Over the last year or so I have been getting the question “how is Xicato doing?” quite a lot. “You’ve been quiet” or “I don’t hear a lot from Xicato” are similar statements that people make. I have given the same response many times, and many of you who I have discussed this with have asked me to write it down and do a better job in communicating. So, here we go: “I could not be more excited about the future of our company and the massive change the lighting industry at large is going to go through!” Let me explain why by explaining our past and present, followed by what the future brings us.

The past

For the past 2 years, we have gone through a fundamental change in the company and its core competences. We have redesigned our XSM platform into XTM and launched our first intelligent product. XIM is intelligent because it has a brain (microprocessor) and memory (we store its programming and operating life inside!). We have and always will continue to be very passionate about quality of light in its broadest sense: 10 years ago when started to talk about CRI, R9, and MacAdam ellipses (which is about the actual light source), then more recently about TM30, flicker and IEEE 1789, dimming to 0.1% (which is about light control), and now around true interoperability based on an open platform with Bluetooth (connectivity).




We have always been and will continue to be very passionate about quality of light. Xicato founders Menko Deroos (left) and Gerard Harbers.


We have only weeks ago launched our XIM Gen4 and have seen demand dramatically surpass our projections, which is a great problem to have when you launch a new product! XIM Gen4 is unique for many reasons. It is the world’s first integrated product that is not only a beautiful light, but also a node in network with a beacon for location services, and it has controls embedded. Fixtures with XIM Gen4 inside are programmed through simple and free software tools that avoid those expensive controls that are not intuitive, complex and difficult to work with. By using Bluetooth with an open API we have listened to the requests from the lighting design community at large and continue to work with partners that develop software for specific use cases based on our API that we provide at no cost.




The future

What we are still in the process of inventing is not just — or even primarily — about stare-at-your-phone interactivity with a user. It is about Adaptive Lighting — lighting that AUTOMATICALLY adapts to what is going on in the space, depending on time, ambient light, and general occupancy, and most interestingly to the needs of individual people in the room. GET RID OF (most of) THE SWITCHES. We want sensors and receivers to know THAT you are in the room, WHERE you are in the room, and WHO YOU ARE, gradually getting to know your preferences. This is personalized lighting.

I know, this is a long way off, but that is the direction this is all going. Personalization requires the system to recognize you either by your wireless signature (ie. from a phone or watch on your person) or through visual recognition, which does not have to be full-spectrum video, but possibly IR pattern recognition. This is the lighting following you and illuminating the room just-so depending on you, on the time of day, and possibly even on your mood (and of course the room contents, including others in the room). And yes, Roger, this includes things like CCT and even color changing. This is the sexiest thing on the planet, when it comes to lighting itself.

We have a great future ahead of ourselves in our industry but we have to adapt to the IT world; they will drive value in the lighting world and we are committed to continuing to play a thought leading role, as we did in the past bringing industry-first products to market that meet the needs of the lighting design community at large and at the same time educate, initially around McAdam ellipses and R9, and now around open API’s, Bluetooth and beacons. If you haven’t heard much about us the last few years, you now know why and if you are interested in an update or just to learn about intelligent lighting that makes sense, please give us a call and we’ll be more than happy to share one of our accredited presentations with you or just have a cup of coffee and talk about the specific needs you may have where we could help out.

Happy holidays and a very adventurous and healthy 2017!

Menko Deroos


About Flicker

As festive, blinking Christmas lights surround us, it is difficult for us lighting nerds to avoid killing the buzz just a bit by thinking about Flicker… variation in the amplitude (brightness) of a light source over time. Flicker is important because of its potential consequences to human health that, as described in IEEE Standard 1789-2015, can include eye fatigue, headaches, loss of concentration and productivity, and in some people, nausea and epileptic seizures.

In general, flicker is caused by variations in the power that drives the light source. Incandescent lights flicker with the 50-60 Hz alternating current that drives them… a problem that has plagued both fluorescent and HID lighting in the past. LEDs – with their incredibly fast response time – are particularly sensitive to the quality of their drivers. LEDs can be dimmed to about 20% (which as you may recall from our September newsletter is fully 58% perceived level) by reducing the constant current that drives them, truly deep dimming to 0.1% or even 1% requires us to modulate the light – to turn the LED on and off.




Light flicker can be easily detected by simply spinning a flicker wheel. If the pattern looks checkered or chopped, flicker is likely present. If the pattern shows smooth blurry circles, then there is a low risk of flicker. 


Characteristics of Flicker

Flicker has several relevant characteristics when it comes to human perception:

  1. Frequency – how fast the light is changing
  2. Amplitude or depth – the maximum percent difference between the peak and minimum light level
  3. Average intensity level
  4. Wavelength or wavelength range (i.e. color) of the light
  5. Angle – what part of the retina is receiving the light
  6. Light adaptation level, which affects both the light level sensitivity and time resolution of the eye
  7. Physiological factors such as age, fatigue, and genetically determined sensitivity

Critical Fusion Frequency (CFF)

Flicker may be visible or invisible. Our eyes have a limited response time called the Critical Fusion Frequency. If the modulation is fast enough, the pulses “fuse” into a single, average level. The “critical flicker fusion” (CFF) frequency is the threshold where flicker cannot be seen, and some people are far more sensitive than others.  All other things being equal:

  1. Higher flicker rates are less visible and less health impacting.
  2. Higher modulation depth is more visible and health impacting.
  3. Dim light flicker is less visible and less health impacting.
  4. We perceive flicker more quickly in our peripheral vision.
  5. Fatigue diminishes our ability to perceive flicker.

IEEE Standard 1789-2015 is currently the best specification describing the health impacts of flicker, and how to avoid them. They have simplified the issue to just two parameters – frequency and modulation depth – and defined thresholds where flicker has “No Effect” and where it has a “Low Risk” of causing health impacts. These zones are shown in the following graph:

What IEEE has not yet accounted for are the other influencing factors, most notably absolute light level. What they cannot account for is individual sensitivities. Xicato’s recommendation is to take this standard seriously and minimize your risk by making sure that your LED driver stays in the No Effect zone to at least 2%, and in the Low Risk zone to at least 1%. The graph shows that Xicato’s own XIM driver is “No Risk to 1.2%, and Low Risk to 0.5%, with minimum settable level of 0.1% at 250 Hz (epilepsy safe) and dim-to-off at 0.012% (30 Hz – above CFF).  


IEEE1789 currently represents the best standard for how to avoid flicker related health effects. No negative effects are projected for frequencies above 3,000Hz with 100% light modulation.
XIM operates in the "no effect" region when above 1.2% dim level. Between 0.5% and 1.2% dim level it operates in the "low risk" zone.


Understanding Stroboscopic Effects White Paper



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