Jevons Paradox in Action: An LED Covered Snowsuit

© Jacob Sutton

One of the wonderful things about new technologies is that creative people use them in so many remarkable and unexpected ways. It is sort of an example of Jevons' Paradox, which suggests that as energy efficiency increases, then people will respond by using more of it. So, now that LEDs are so efficient, you can cover a snowboarder in them or fill a ceiling with lights, burning energy in ways it has never been burned before. It really isn't very TreeHugger, but I am always excited in seeing how LEDs are changing the way so much is being done.

It is also an absolutely beautiful bit of filming by Jacob Sutton of a wonderful pro boarder, William Hughes, shot over three nights in -25C temperatures. The filmmaker is interviewed on the Nowness page of Facebook:

I've always be excited by unusual ways of lighting things and it seemed like an exciting idea to make the subject of the film the only light source.

The suit designer, John Spatcher, explains some of the issues:

It was decided to actively illuminate the suit using led strips powered by batteries. First trials with the leds applied to the suit with 40mm pitch showed a castellated effect at the profile edges so the pitch was reduced to 25mm to partially eliminate this effect. Further trials indicated that this would be acceptable and the final design embodied this method. Suit fabrics were little problem, the main requirement being a smooth lint-free surface to ensure good adhesion for the led strips. Some research regarding battery energy at low temperatures and safety considerations during sport maneovres led to Nimh being chosen. Temperature tests at -18degC proved satisfactory. Leds are more efficient at low temperatures than warm ones.

Highly efficient, low voltage LEDs are soon going to be part of the fabric of our buildings and who knows, the fabric of our snowsuits. More at Nowness; Now I am off to find my snowboard.

Tags: Lighting | Sports

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