LED lighting is the latest exciting development in the world of home lighting and technology.

There was once a time when the use of LEDs was limited to laser pointers, remote controls, and indication lights on our TV’s, but now people are realising the many benefits of LED lighting; it consumes up to 90% less energy than other lighting methods, it is longer lasting and much more cost efficient. LEDs have become a popular choice for home lighting because they can significantly reduce energy bills.

But did you know that LEDs are also being used in a variety of unusual and technologically advanced ways today? Thanks to their versatility, it is possible for LED lighting to be used in ways you would never imagine. Here are 10 unexpected uses for LED lighting.

1. Luminous textiles


One of the most innovative uses of LED lighting is within textiles. Luminous textiles integrate tiny multicoloured LED lights seamlessly within fabrics. The resulting fabric can be used to create an interactive wall of light within interiors.

Lighting experts, Philips, have pioneered this revolutionary lighting concept in collaboration with Kvadrat, Europe’s leading textile manufacturer of design textiles. The textile panels have sound absorbing properties and cast a colourful low-energy glow over an interior space. Philips describe the luminous panels as "a revolutionary new way to enhance interiors with light, texture and dynamic visual content."

In 2012, designer Miriam Bäckström created an exhibition of these luminous textile panels, titled ‘See what you made me do’. It featured eight overlapping textile panels which reacted to movement, voice, temperature and speed to create a beautiful,  interactive display.

2. LED wallpaper


LED’s can also add a glow to interiors in the form of illuminated wallpaper. German light designer Ingo Maurer collaborated with Architects Paper to develop the first wallpaper with integrated LED lights that change colour. The geometric LED wallpaper is made from a large electronic circuit board printed onto paper.

According to Ingo Maurer, “LED wallpaper opens up very exciting possibilities to illuminate rooms: Dimmed enigmatic light hardly revealing where it is coming from...”

 3. LED lashes


LED lights can be manufactured to a very small scale, which allows for endless creativity and possibilities. One of the most unusual ways that LED lights have been used is in the form of LED eye lashes. Designed by Soomi Park, the wearable eye lashes features a row of tiny LED lights that sit under the wearer's eye. Park designed the lashes to make eyes appear larger and prettier. They contain a sensor that allows the wearer to turn them on or off by tilting their head.

4. Bionic contact lenses


Standard contact lenses are great for helping us see, but thanks to LED lights they can now do a lot more. Developed by Aalto University in Finland, the bionic contact lens allows the wearer to see what they might see on their computer screen, right in front of their eyes. The bionic lens uses a transparent sapphire chip and a single pixel micro-LED light to transmit information.  Imagine reading your emails right from your retinas with no need for a computer or device.

 5. Football stadiums


On a grander scale, Philips has used LED lights to light five out of 12 stadiums in the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. According to Philips Newscenter, the facades of five stadiums will be lit to highlight the architecture of the landmarks. They will also provide pitch lighting to ensure than TV viewers can see every moment in clear detail.

According to Flávio Guimarães, commercial director of Philips Lighting Brazil:

“As the world leader in lighting, Philps knows that lighting is essential for high-quality TV broadcasts of soccer and other sporting events across the world.”

At Maracanã stadium, LED lighting will reflect the flag colours of each playing team into the roof.

6. LED bridges


In 2013, San Francisco’s Bay Bridge was given a makeover with the help of designer Leo Villareal and 25,000 individual white LED lights.

The lights illuminate 1.8 miles of cables on the north side of the suspension bridge, making it the largest LED sculpture in the world. Each LED bulb can be adjusted for 255 different levels of brightness and the entire installation is controlled by a computer program. The sparkling LED lights display a constantly changing pattern every night.

 7Street safety


In London, LED lights are being used to enhance the safety of outdoor spaces in a unique way.

Clink Street Tunnel was once a dark pedestrian passage, but now with the help of LED lights, it has been illuminated. In 2010, Southwark Council installed a bespoke 135 square metre LED screen with 9,600 nodes that creates a virtual firework effect along the tunnel walls and ceiling.

LED lights produce a bright, low energy and eco-friendly light. This allows the Clink Street Tunnel to be safely lit at night without using a lot of electricity.

Find out how LED street lights are saving up to 85% energy around the world.

8. Luminous ceilings


Another exciting project from lighting giants, Philips, is the OneSpace luminous ceiling. The luminous ceiling integrates LED lighting with textiles to create bright, white panels that span a whole ceiling.

According to Philips:

"OneSpace luminous ceiling is a made-to-measure panel that liberates you from the constraints of conventional ceiling design so you’re free to pursue uncluttered minimalistic visions – and transform any interior into one cohesive space with beautiful homogeneous light."

This luminous ceiling would work well in office and work spaces. The bright white light that that is produced from these LED panels mimic natural sunlight, which research has shown can make us much more productive than fluorescent lighting.

 9. LED engagement rings


Did you ever think LED’s could be romantic? For one man they are. When American engineer Ben Kokes wanted to propose, he invented and designed an engagement ring embedded with tiny LED lights. The lights in the ring glow when Kokes is close to his girlfriend, thanks to a hidden transmitter he wears.

 10. LED fashion


LED’s are inspiring a futuristic trend in the world of fashion called "wearable technology". As it gets easier to combine LED lighting with textiles, companies such as CuteCircuit are using this idea to create fashion forward designs. CuteCircuit design LED garments that are completely wearable, such as the K-Dress which sparkles and glows in any colour or pattern the wearer chooses.

LED lights are low energy and completely safe to wear, so their integration into clothing could become more and more common in the future.

What do you think of these alternative ways to use LED lighting?

If you want to make the switch to LED lighting in your home, Litecraft have a wide range of LED bulbs and light fittings available online.

Images courtesy of www.lighting.philips.com, www.inhabitat.com, www.lighting.co.uk and www.psfk.com