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Fiber Optics Bring the Sun Indoors

Hemos posted more than 9 years ago | from the the-sun'll-come-out-tomorrow dept.

Power 377

Sterling D. Allan writes "Fiber optics transmit light, so why not take the light from outside and transmit it inside? According to an exclusive story at PESN, that is what Tennessee company, Sunlight Direct, is now doing. Their 4-foot-diameter solar dish will light 1000 square feet inside -- minus the harmful UV rays -- rendering a more natural lighting feel, which can be hybridized with florescent and possibly LED lighting to provide a constant light level, though the tone changes with the level of light outside. The GPS-based sun-tracking mechanism uses very little energy. Now you can save electricity, cut on heat emissions by incandescent, and improve the feel of your work environment. Beta testing began in June. Product expected in the market in 2007."

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FP (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13182897)


hydropnic uses? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13183107)

i want to replace my 2x 1000watt hps lights with this system.... will i still get a good yeald?

no (5, Funny)

fmobus (831767) | more than 9 years ago | (#13182899)

we don't need light in our basements!! FP?

LOL@7 more dead astroNOTS (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13183276)

hehe, when was the last actual deaths in orbit? Russians in the 60s? No more! 7 dead in 2005. LOLORORORLOLOL whooosh!

Very cool (5, Interesting)

JasonBee (622390) | more than 9 years ago | (#13182901)

In the Australian interior (Coober Pedy and Lightning Ridge) they build many homes undergound...thsi kinds of thing would be perfect. Natural air conditioning and natural light sources.

Re:Very cool (4, Interesting)

yobbo (324595) | more than 9 years ago | (#13183075)

This will be handy in the cities as well. A common problem with converting old office space to residential uses is the inability to get sufficient sunlight deep into the building. This technology could help alleviate the problem.

Re:Very cool (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13183113)

Yeah right buddy you're full of shit, Coober Pedy is a fictional city, I know that's where Crocodile Dundee is from so you're probably talking out of your ass.

Re:Very cool (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13183140)

-1, Tosspot

Coober Pedy, AUSTL: 29s01, 134e43 (5, Funny)

weighn (578357) | more than 9 years ago | (#13183245)

sorry I couldn't see it on - probably due to the buildings all being underground :)

Re:Very cool (5, Funny)

melikamp (631205) | more than 9 years ago | (#13183165)

If we cover the Earth with enough quality fiber, we can probably channel sunlight 24/7 from the light to the dark side. I cannot imagine if that is ever going to become practical, but it sure sounds great for the environment.

Re:Very cool (3, Funny)

Radio Shack Robot (640478) | more than 9 years ago | (#13183187)

I find your ideas intriguing and I wish to subscribe to your newsletter.

Re:Very cool (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13183177)

Some portions of the Middle East have underground dwellings. These dwellings are pretty deep; much deeper than a ground penetrating bomb could reach. This would be great to bring in some natural sunlight rather than using the scarce energy resources over there. *pushes detonator*

Filter the UV rays (-1)

banz23 (737504) | more than 9 years ago | (#13182907)

This better filter out the UV-rays, otherwise I forsee worker lawsuits. This could be the next big class action if workers start coming down with skin cancer. Why not just use solar panels and convert it to electricity? It seems it would be cheaper than installing the fiber optic wiring.

Re:Filter the UV rays (1) (543558) | more than 9 years ago | (#13182950)

Studies have shown people respond better to natural light than to artificial light, so it looks like they're trying to take advantage of that. Whether it's true or not, I dont know. I probably spend most of my time in artificial light and with the exception of encouraging me to post on Slashdot it hasn't had any negative side-effects.

Re:Filter the UV rays (1)

jmcmunn (307798) | more than 9 years ago | (#13182952)

The UV rays are not going to transfer through the fiber...think about it. And if somehow (in an alternate reality) the UV did travel through, you would just need a giant set of blue blockers to hold in front of the fiber lights. A blue blocker lamp shade perhaps?

Seriously though, this is great if you're in a sunny climate. Here in Michigan it would be of limited use 6 months out of the year, but still it'd be awesome.

Re:Filter the UV rays (5, Funny)

shobadobs (264600) | more than 9 years ago | (#13182956)


God. Why does stupidity exponentiate when people desire to get an early post on a story?

Re:Filter the UV rays (1)

maxrate (886773) | more than 9 years ago | (#13182960)

Solar - to storage = not so efficient

Sun, via fiber to free space = darn efficient

Re:Filter the UV rays (3, Interesting)

IconBasedIdea (838710) | more than 9 years ago | (#13182963)

Both the first paragraph of the article AND the description answer your concerns about harmful rays. Good job paying attention...

Re:Filter the UV rays (3, Insightful)

bobhagopian (681765) | more than 9 years ago | (#13182968)

Why is a company that chooses not to filter UV any more liable than a government that chooses not to install a giant pair of Oakley sunglasses over the entire U.S.? I agree that filtering UV is a very, very good idea, but I don't see why not doing so merits a lawsuit.

Incidentally, the most efficiency you can hope to acheive with a solar panel is around 10% or so, and even that's an optimistic estimate I believe.

Re:Filter the UV rays (1)

OzRoy (602691) | more than 9 years ago | (#13182972)

Because solar panels are not that cheap, and you waste a lot of energy when you convert energy from one form to another.

You would get very close to 100% efficiency by redirecting sunlight straight into a room than by converting it into electricty and then back to light again.

Re:Filter the UV rays (0, Troll)

Jeff Benjamin (528348) | more than 9 years ago | (#13182996)

RTFSOTA (Read The Fucking Summary Of The Article)

Re:Filter the UV rays (2)

kc01 (772943) | more than 9 years ago | (#13182998)

Why not just use solar panels and convert it to electricity?

Because photovoltaic cells have a limited lifespan. Some articles found state that a lifespan can be unlimited, some say about 30-35 years, but I've heard that the practical lifespan for powering household current is about 7 years- About as long as it takes to recoup the cost of purchasing the things in the first place.

Also, it can't be nearly as efficient to convert light to energy and back to light again as it is to simply redirect the light where it's wanted.

Of course, this would only work while the sun's up- You'd still need lightbulbs and other lighting infrastructure to light at night.

It does... (3, Informative)

KingSkippus (799657) | more than 9 years ago | (#13183035)

The article specifically says that it does:

The system's 48-inch primary mirror concentrates light into a secondary mirror, which strips away the infrared and ultraviolet components, and directs the visible light into the receiver.

As for the solar panels, I would think that they'd be a lot more expensive. (Disclaimer: I haven't actually checked.) The systems I've seen require large banks of batteries to store power, and there are a lot of expensive system components.

One nice thing about solar lighting is that there's really not much else other than a mirror and a bunch of fiber optic cables. It's a pretty simple system made of relatively cheap parts.

Also, one of the selling points of the company's Web site is that the lighting is all natural, not artificial, which is supposedly preferable for happy attitudes and such.

Of course, not having any lights at night or on cloudy days would totally suck. The article mentions that the system can be integrated with supplimental artifical lighting. Perhaps a combination of solar panels and solar lighting would be the best system if one wants cheap, eco-friendly lighting that is also mostly natural for happy attitudes.

Old News (3, Interesting)

sakusha (441986) | more than 9 years ago | (#13182912)

The Ark Mori Building in Tokyo had a fiber optic solar light distribution system installed something like 10 years ago. I remember seeing a video of the system. It's been out for 10 years, but nobody did anything to follow it. My conclusion: it's worthless.

Re:Old News (4, Insightful)

plover (150551) | more than 9 years ago | (#13183059)

There's also a "more traditional" system that I've been seeing at the Home and Garden shows for a few years now. It's a small (about 8" diameter) clear dome 'skylight' mounted in the roof. It caps an ordinary round sheet metal duct that leads straight down into the home. The ductwork is lined with a reflective mylar sheet, making it a mirrored pipe. The inside end is pointed at a translucent diffuser. From inside the house, it looks like an ordinary recessed can light.

Ultra low tech (no fibers) but it produces very nicely colored light in an interior room. I thought they were too pricey, though. Then I saw this article, where they want $8000! Wow.

Re:Old News (2, Funny)

phoenix.bam! (642635) | more than 9 years ago | (#13183161)

Recently put something cheaper in my house. It's just a regular window in the roof. we call it a skylight. well, isn't a regular window but it works just as well and is easier to install

Re:Old News (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13183192)

So you use the savings from lights to pay for the air conditioning then?

Re:Old News (1)

Ray Alloc (835739) | more than 9 years ago | (#13183191)

Ark Mori is an expensive building for entites which can pay hefty sums to live in it. My conclusion: it's still too expensive for the average home/office. But it's a good idea, I'm always turning off the light on weekend to avoid that "false daylight" depressive effect.

Re:Old News (3, Informative)

sirket (60694) | more than 9 years ago | (#13183200)

It's not worthless. The system works amazingly well. The problem? Cost. Fiber optics and installation were not cheap- at least when the Ark Mori building was built. These days however? Costs have plummeted and energy costs have risen. It is an ideal time for this system to make a comeback. And the light quality? Amazing from what I heard from a friend who visited the building while she was working in Japan.


Hundreds of years ago called (1)

CmdrTaco (troll) (578383) | more than 9 years ago | (#13182913)

They said we already have mirrors.

Sounds like advertisement to me (5, Insightful)

helioquake (841463) | more than 9 years ago | (#13182919)

A guy who works at "Pure Energy System" posts exclusive article posted on PESN (Pure Energy System News)? Isn't that the same as a free ad?

Not that anything wrong with that...

Re:Sounds like advertisement to me (1)

EnronHaliburton2004 (815366) | more than 9 years ago | (#13182970)

It's a free ad. With that in mind, read the submission again-- and it is REALLY obvious that it's a free ad.

I mean, it's cool technology and all, but Slashdot doesn't need to duplicate the functions of the PR Newswire...

The author also wrote about alien technology! (5, Interesting)

EnronHaliburton2004 (815366) | more than 9 years ago | (#13183030)

Not to bash this solar lighting system or anything, but the author [] of the article [] is a bit of a nutcase-- she wrote a whole article about how we're all doomed because of the impending Magnetic Field Revesal [] , and another article [] about a scientist was killed in a conspiratorial fashion because of his "new energy" discoveries, which apparently came from space aliens.

So take this article with a big grain of alien-free salt.

Re:The author also wrote about alien technology! (1)

helioquake (841463) | more than 9 years ago | (#13183045)

Mary-Sue Haliburton?

EnronHaliburton2004, are you related? Say ain't so!

Geomagnetic reversal happens, but aliens don't (4, Informative)

SuperBanana (662181) | more than 9 years ago | (#13183205)

she wrote a whole article about how we're all doomed because of the impending Magnetic Field Revesal

a)the earth's magnetic field does reverse every so often, b)we're overdue (by a huge margin) and c)we probably would be slightly fucked, because during the flip, we'd have no protection from cosmic and solar radiation.


Wikipedia Article on Geomagnetic Reversal []

As for the aliens- yep, she's off her rocker on that one, but don't throw the baby out with the bathwater.

How do you know it was free? (1)

Ray Alloc (835739) | more than 9 years ago | (#13183217)

Maybe the guy paid the slashdot mods to let his ad be published...

step in the right direction (4, Insightful)

porksoda (253218) | more than 9 years ago | (#13182920)

now slap some fucking soil and grass and trees on those concrete roofs and we're in business.

Not that new under the sun (2, Interesting)

soward (6325) | more than 9 years ago | (#13182921)

This doesn't seem that new. Folx have had large-scale "fibre optic" types of skylights that can reach to basements and other areas for quite some time. I think they are even available at Home Depot. comes to mind right off the bat...

That's "fluorescent" (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13182923)

You insensitive clod!

Wow. (1)

sootman (158191) | more than 9 years ago | (#13182926)

I don't remmber where I saw it, but I saw a system like this on TV about 10 years ago. I mean, these guys might be the first to do it comercially, or cheaply, but the idea has been around for ages. I'm sure a slashdot reader somewhere works in a facility that already has something like this in place?

Re:Wow. (2, Funny)

$RANDOMLUSER (804576) | more than 9 years ago | (#13183037)

> I saw a system like this on TV about 10 years ago
IIRC, it was invented by Wyle E. Coyote.

wait.. (0, Flamebait)

Mahou (873114) | more than 9 years ago | (#13182927)

using gps to track the sun? way to go!

p.s. won't this give cancer to peacful iraqi rioters?

Skylights are nice (5, Interesting)

ReformedExCon (897248) | more than 9 years ago | (#13182931)

Even when raining, the outdoor light feels much more comfortable and natural than indoor incandescent lightbulbs. I imagine the idea has been around since Gog the Hut Thatcher fell through one of his creations and the hut owners just left the hole in the roof.

Nowadays, they've got a nice system where the light is guided through a reflective tube that can be directed to any room in the house. []

It was only natural that the techonology would progress to where we are splitting the sunshine into fiber optics and redirecting them all over the house. However, 2007 is a pretty long way off for what seems to be a relatively simple application of existing technologies.

Wasn't Something like this on here before? (1)

tarawa (215365) | more than 9 years ago | (#13182933)

I could have swore a couple years ago Slashdot had the same, if not something down right identicle, to this story before.

It's a neat idea though. :)

Re:Wasn't Something like this on here before? (1)

Reignking (832642) | more than 9 years ago | (#13182983)

You are right, and it was recently, as in the past few months. And people were complaining then about it being a dupe.

These have been around for a while... (4, Informative)

EnronHaliburton2004 (815366) | more than 9 years ago | (#13182942)

I remember seeing pictures of these on Japanese office buildings in the early 80s. They were called "Sunflowers", and they were mostly prototypes I think, and had a honeycomb [] set of collectors which piped the sunlight into the building.

Photonic Storage? (5, Interesting)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 9 years ago | (#13182945)

Is there any way to store the photons in sunlight? Not convert them to electrons, then reemit them, but "trap" the photons in some medium, then emit them at some arbitrary later date? Without transforming some amount of their energy to heat or other mechanical energy. For retransmission later, like when the sun goes down.

Maybe a nanomaze of fiber, a few wavelengths in diameter, twisting its way around inside a cubic centimeter? If such a "photon trap" were millions of meters in length, it might be able to absorb photons for a while, before the first ones trapped finally made their way around the loop to the surface, during which time the trap could be closed (with a mirror, cycling the photons through the circuit until it was opened again. Or maybe an input window that's mirrored only on the inside, trapping photons continuously, until another mirrored facet is removed. Or a spiral maze of MEMs mirrors which send light around the cycle, until one is tilted away from the cycle, towards the output.

Is there any kind of work on "photonic storage"?

Re:Photonic Storage? (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13182974)

Thats too complicated and primitive, applying old tech to the photons. Just have two photons at a time go at it at 180' from each other and get stuck. When you need them lose again, just get them not to be stuck, like shake the box, shoot in some other ones to knock them loose, etc.

Re:Photonic Storage? (1)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 9 years ago | (#13183024)

Photons aren't "things" that stick to each other. When they pass through the same space, they merely put that space into a "double photon" state, then continue moving on along their axes at lightspeed. If you're sophisticated enough to get photons to interact in a space by staying there, please tell us how.

Re:Photonic Storage? (4, Interesting)

renehollan (138013) | more than 9 years ago | (#13182985)

Google for Slow Glass [] .

That reminds me of a book I read once... (1)

sc00p18 (536811) | more than 9 years ago | (#13183197)

This is sorta off topic, but that comment reminded me of a book I read one time in which the main character had a shed in his yard that would slow time way down for anyone who was in it. So he spent like a year in it but only one day had passed in the real world. I remember he did lots of working out while he was in there and when he came out his older brother was pissed =). Anybody happen to know what that was called?

Re:That reminds me of a book I read once... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13183244)


Re:That reminds me of a book I read once... (1)

fbartho (840012) | more than 9 years ago | (#13183251)

think of the bandwidth you could absorb if you had a year's worth of internet browsing time compressed into 1 day... think of what would happen if you ran your server/supercomputer inside that... 365 fold increase output

I want that shed! 12hrs of effective sleep comes to 1/730 of a day in the shed!

Re:Photonic Storage? (2, Informative)

TigerNut (718742) | more than 9 years ago | (#13183025)

The speed of light is 300 million meters per second. As long as your definition of 'a while' is in the millisecond range, you're in business.

The 'infinite light trap' is an interesting notion, but since the mirrors would absorb a small fraction of the incident energy with every photon reflection, you wouldn't be able to store a lot of energy until things got really hot.

One thing that might work is to trap photons inside a slow-light crystal, but I think that conservation of energy would still have to apply, and you'd quickly find out that collecting solar power in a small volume gets things HOT.

Re:Photonic Storage? (2, Interesting)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 9 years ago | (#13183082)

What if the mirrors aren't flat "silvered" reflectors (how does that do it, anyway?), but instead just loops of fiber, never at less than the critical refractive angle? Perhaps doped for soliton organization? The efficiency probably won't ever be 100% "reflective", until we build the structures out of individual electrons, probably in a vacuum, in microgravity. Or around a nano-black-hole, perhaps a magnetically contained all-strange mass in a vacuum.

Until then, is there any way to just charge a photonic crystal with 4m^2 sunlight all day, and get 1m^2 sunlight all night? Only 75% decay over 12h?

Re:Photonic Storage? (2, Interesting)

TigerNut (718742) | more than 9 years ago | (#13183154)

Even if total internal reflection were 100% efficient (and it can't be), you'd be left with an interesting problem... How do you get the light in? The refractive index of glass is such that the angle of an incident light beam gets closer to normal (perpendicular to the interface plane), compared to the source. So shining a beam of light onto the surface of a perfect quartz torus (of arbitrary length or number of turns) will just cause most of the beam to be refracted such that it can exit on the opposite torus wall. The remainder of the beam will get internally reflected, but at pretty close to the critical angle, and then you can't get it out... If the reflection and transmission of light in a particular crystal were any given number of 9's (i.e. 0.9999999999999999999...90), it would still only take a finite number of reflections or molecular interactions for the photon to lose it's energy to the crystal as heat.

One good idea (for the whole light-pipe business) would be to take the UV energy that is reflected or filtered, and use it to energize a fluorescent radiator whose output could then augment the visible light collected by the system. Since there are some fluorescent materials with extended decay times, that might buy you some 'charge' time.

Re:Photonic Storage? (1)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 9 years ago | (#13183203)

Or shunt the trapped light aside, through another pathway, while shining light (focused from a large area to a small one) in from the outside. The shunt mirror might absorb some energy, but as long as it's less than the input light, it will increase the charge. If it's better than 20% efficient, it's better than photoelectrics, and probably higher capacity, and possibly cheaper to mass manufacture. Throw in the photoelectric and LED inefficiencies, and even 10% efficiency of a light->light trap would be better for replacing lots of interior lighting than any other power generation.

Re:Photonic Storage? (4, Interesting)

Alomex (148003) | more than 9 years ago | (#13183279)

How do you get the light in? The refractive index of glass is such that the angle of an incident light beam gets closer to normal (perpendicular to the interface plane), compared to the source.

This is a geometric problem which has been solved by mathematicians. The light trap looks like an egg with part of the lateral wall removed. The "egg" itself is made of portions of a paraboloid and an ellipsoid. The light gets trapped in the ellipsoid, bouncing on a trajectory ever closer to the major axis of the ellipsoid, i.e. the line joining the foci.

Re:Photonic Storage? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13183050)

Yeah, its called a Black Hole

Re:Photonic Storage? (1)

Greg@UF (97388) | more than 9 years ago | (#13183141)

Nah, That only works if your name is Steel, or Sapphire. []

Showing my age now :)
Or the effects of deep pyschosis induced by the show !

Re:Photonic Storage? (3, Informative)

deglr6328 (150198) | more than 9 years ago | (#13183255)

In short. No. The trouble is in the absorption of photons by your reflective trap. See, even the most perfectly reflective surfaces we're capable of making (~99.999% reflective) are not good enough to do this. There is a technique for measuring the reflectivity of these (VERY) expensive mirrors called cavity ring-down where a laser pulse is injected into a cavity created with a highly reflective mirror and you watch how quickly that light pulse decays and this tells you very accurately the reflectivity of the thing. After only some tens of microseconds you are left with mere fractions of a percent of your original pulse. So in short, even with super reflective walls, your photon storage unit will still very efficiently convert those initial photons to heat in short order.

That's why it's called 'natural light' (5, Informative)

maxrate (886773) | more than 9 years ago | (#13182992)

There is a reason why it's called 'natural light', because it's natural, not artificial.

I moved my office from a building where we had NO windows. Productivity has gone up tremendously. We don't feel as worn out at the end of the day, and we don't feel like we missed out on anything.

I saw this on the Discovery channel, and it's fantastic for commerical space as you can distribute 'natural' light all over the office where windows can't be located. It saves on energy use as well. As yes, there are UV filters.

I wish it was a little more affordable, i'd do it in a heart beat.

Re:That's why it's called 'natural light' (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13183250)

Am I the only one that hates 'natural' light... I like my dark basement.. thanks

I've seen this on discovery ch b4 too, its old news.. /me runs and hides in my dark corner -AC

Beyond 2000 episode (1)

MasterC (70492) | more than 9 years ago | (#13183006)

Rerouting outside lighting to the interior isn't new, of course: see windows and sky lights. :)

Though, this story reminded me of an episode from Beyond 2000 [] of a Japanese company that used a concentrator on the outside but instead of using the light for interior lighting it was some sort of therapeutic device. This was probably about a decade ago when I saw it, so the details are kind of hazy...

Does it surprise me that the Japanese had the whole sunlight-through-fiber idea a decade ago?

Freakin Laser Beams (5, Funny)

maxrate (886773) | more than 9 years ago | (#13183009)

Blast a thinkgeek laser beam in reverse from your cubicle fiber port and wake up some alien race.

Re:Freakin Laser Beams (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13183181)

The outdoor end of this thing probibly points and the Sun, so I dont think that will work unless the alien race is living on the sun. And if that was the case I dont think a laser would wake them up ;^)

During the cold war... (5, Funny)

Rhinobird (151521) | more than 9 years ago | (#13183015)

During the cold war there was much competition between American and Russian office productivity. The Americans spent millions delevoping a system to direct sunlight into buildings. It was awesome in its capabilities. The sun tracker used very little energy, the interior of the building was laced with miles of fiber optic cabling. All in all a wonder of modern engineering triumph.

When face with a similar problem, the Soviets used a "window".

Re:During the cold war... (1)

Neoprofin (871029) | more than 9 years ago | (#13183058)

And due to decreased circulation of money by means of seemingly arbitrary spending, their economy collapsed .

This is a urban legend (1)

germansausage (682057) | more than 9 years ago | (#13183176)


What really happened is that Fischer developed the space skylight at its own expense and gave it to NASA for free.

This is not exactly news (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13183020)

Here's an article from 1999, which notes:
"Sound like science fiction? It's not. One such product, the
Himawari, has been commercially available for nearly 15 years ..." []

Slashdot: 20-year-old news for nerds. Sigh.

I'll keep my windows thanks. (5, Insightful)

sdfad1 (880883) | more than 9 years ago | (#13183040)

Errr, wait a minute, something's not right here. First we build a structure- wind, quake, water, sun, (and even fire)-proof, then we build another gadget to bring the sun into our buildings. I'm no architect, but the buildings we can see all around us are convincing proof that we can ensure natural sunlight reaches most parts of the interior of our buildings - we have sun roofs, open areas, North facing buildings (in the Southern hemisphere), even simple windows.

This gadget is just a bunch of boys' toy, and will be forgotten in a few years. I suggest we pay more attention to the architects who are building our environments to ensure we never need such devices in the first place. A bit of design in the beginning saves plenty of effort later. For example, you won't need to crack your brains figuring out safety regulations, building codes and installation hassles for a fibre optics light and heat guide...

Re:I'll keep my windows thanks. (1)

trime (733350) | more than 9 years ago | (#13183277)

I'm guessing you're an architect then? :-)

Useful, but ramifications (1)

kc01 (772943) | more than 9 years ago | (#13183042)

This would be most useful in buildings that are inhabited mostly during the day. Office buildings come to mind.

Imagine, skylights on every floor! :-)

Of course, there'd be extended coffee breaks for those total solar eclipses...

Save Money? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13183055)

I don't see how this would save money at night unless the dish can get solar energy no matter what the time is. Perhaps if your a geek that lives in a leaky basement all day this would help you, assuming you even want light.

Maybe I'm just not reading TFA.

Re:Save Money? (2, Insightful)

cujo_1111 (627504) | more than 9 years ago | (#13183214)

What about using the light collector as night too.

Because it replaces the use of ceiling lights during the day you use just put a 1,000 Watt spotlight into the reflector at night. If you had 100 x 10W tubes to replace it may even be cheaper in the long run due to tube replacement and lighting fixtures...

I dunno if this is correct but I would be glad if someone could tell me.

Arcology lighting (3, Interesting)

davedx (861162) | more than 9 years ago | (#13183061)

This would be fantastic for lighting the insides of Arcologies [] . Something I've always thought was a big negative for city sized buildings is whereas you have a huge volume for everything you have relatively less surface area for windows, and as someone else posted here lack of natural light can be really bad for you... in a large-sized arcology you'd have huge sections with no windows...

Just a random thought on an application.

Better get to work (2, Insightful)

hobotron (891379) | more than 9 years ago | (#13183074)

At 1.98892 × 10^30 kilograms these "fiber optic" dudes better get started now!


Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13183209)


Great! (1)

ZSpade (812879) | more than 9 years ago | (#13183079)

I've been looking for a way to risk skin cancer indoors, and windows are so dependent on direction.

In all seriousness though, I'm sure they filter out the harmful UV rays. Maybe it would help if I RTFA.

Re:Great! (1)

Fjornir (516960) | more than 9 years ago | (#13183247)

Even reading the submission would have been enough, you slimy little piece of troll shit.

Caution: Advertisement (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13183080)

Says "Increases Productivity" and "Increase Sales"
How does light do that?
Is it cover by their warranty? []

sun blocking machine (4, Funny)

RevengeOfPoopJuggler (872968) | more than 9 years ago | (#13183099)

That's just more ransom money in my pocket when I complete my sun-blocking machine...

Dupe + Old Story Anyway = You Suck? (2, Informative)

loggia (309962) | more than 9 years ago | (#13183106)

This was posted on Slashdot a few weeks ago.

And many posters (including me) pointed out that sun pipes have been around a long time.

Re:Dupe + Old Story Anyway = You Suck? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13183297)

Actually, even at that time it was a dupe.

Himawari (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13183124)

Here's the homepage of the Japanese company that did this almost 20 years ago: []

Horribly Expensive (1)

N8F8 (4562) | more than 9 years ago | (#13183125)

I suremise that such a system is cost prohibitive for home use. If it was practical and even moderatly expensive someone would be sellign them already instead of three decades of Beta testing. Sure you can get cheapo sun tubes but they don't put out much light and aren't usable just anywhere becasue of limitations of distance between the roof opening and the interior ceiling and the number of bends/reflectors required.

Nothing new! (1)

i (8254) | more than 9 years ago | (#13183126)

It was called "windows" before.

Elevators (2, Interesting)

revscat (35618) | more than 9 years ago | (#13183129)

I wonder if these could be made to work in elevators? You could have the fibers going straight down from the roof, say one for each corner of the elevator. They would be shielded in a translucent tube so that the passengers couldn't obviously touch them. And since you have a natural shaft to the roof already, this seems like it would be a good fit.

The main benefit would be the lessened heat dissipation. I've been in far too many elevators that have what seems like way too many incandescents in the roof that make the elevator very hot, especially this time of year.

Feature creep (1)

Bottlemaster (449635) | more than 9 years ago | (#13183132)

"The GPS-based sun-tracking..."

For today's house on the go...

GPS-based sun tracking device ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13183144)

Are these assclowns talking about a clock ? That's all you need to track the sun.

sun (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13183150)

dont look into LED with the remaining good eye...

Let's do some maths. (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13183151)

$US8000 for one of these systems, capable of lighting 1000 square feet. That's $US8 per square foot; I'm Australian, so let's work in Australian dollars: around $10 Australian per square foot. A typical fluorescent light bulb (to replace an incandescent bulb) uses 15 watts of electricity.

Looking at my latest electricity bill, I'm charged 13 cents (Australian, roughly) per kilowatt hour. Ten dollars is 77 kilowatt hours; that's equivalent to running one of those things for 5,000 hours (again, roughly).

Working period is 8 hours a day, five days a week -- forty hours a week. 5,000 hours is therefore 125 weeks, or about two and a half years. Multiply that figure by the number of square feet a standard bulb can illuminate (it'd be, what, about 50 square feet at a guess?), and you have a break-even point of 125 years.

If they're replacing incandescent bulbs (which use four times the electricity), break even comes down to about 30 years.

Points to consider:

  1. My pricing for electricity is residential rates. Industrial and commercial rates are probably different. Anybody have solid figures?
  2. I'm guessing with the 50 square feet per bulb. If a bulb can light more area, the time to breakeven increases accordingly. If less, it decreases.
  3. Businesses typically use fluorescent tubes, not bulb replacements. I don't know how much energy those use, nor how much area they can light.
  4. Does this price include installation? If not, there's an added expense before break even is reached.
  5. You'll also need other lighting to supplement this system on badly overcast days, and at night, reducing the payoff.
The price will have to drop a bit based upon my back-of-the-envelope calculations before this becomes viable. If anybody has better figures than the ones I've given, please, speak up -- I'm genuinely curious. In particular, I don't know how much electricity costs a business in the USA; that is the single biggest factor in determining payoff time.

GPS Tracking? (4, Insightful)

uberdave (526529) | more than 9 years ago | (#13183162)

Why would they need GPS tracking? It's not like the building is going to move. I suppose they are using the time/date signal to compute where point the dish. Good luck fumbling around in the dark when the military scrambles the GPS in response to a terrorist threat though. Why don't they simply use a set of phototransistors instead, no computing required?

GPS-based tracking system? (1)

fbg111 (529550) | more than 9 years ago | (#13183169)

The GPS-based sun-tracking mechanism uses very little energy.

Bah, that's nothing. I've designed a similar system and my sunflower-based sun-tracking mechanism uses even less energy! None at all in fact, other than a little bit of water. And these guys think they're environmentally conscious, hah!

Window into the house? (3, Insightful)

gtsquirrel (613500) | more than 9 years ago | (#13183179)

I wonder if these fiber optic roofs will allow people (spy satellites?) to see inside a room when the luminosity inside the room is higher than that outside. Think of it like peering into a house's front windows at night -- as long as the living room lights are on, you can see in, but they can't see out.

Arizona State's Library used this over 15+ yrs ago (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13183186)

ASU's Hayden library has used solar collectors and fiber optic distribution for over 15 years.. what gives?

I no someone who is doing his doctrine thesis w/t (1)

guardiangod (880192) | more than 9 years ago | (#13183211)

When I toured the labs in University of British Columbia a few months ago, a person showed us his doctine thesis experiment that center on tunneling sunlight with the help of special reflective (from 3M) tunnels that is over 65% efficient.

Other than the addition of the outrageous "dish" (on shark?), tell me why this is "new".

Not new (1)

bigberk (547360) | more than 9 years ago | (#13183222)

This isn't groundbreaking. There have been building materials developed before that use fibers to transmit light from outside [] . I'm a bigger fan of just designing the building so that more natural light finds its way in, rather than resorting to expensive materials and tricks. Windows do an OK job when positioned intelligently. I remember visiting an apartment building in Norwich which had a brilliant design, sunlight made it down columns to each floor and there was plenty natural lighting in the hallways. Amazed me

GPS based? (1)

name773 (696972) | more than 9 years ago | (#13183254)

i'd say that's a bit overkill on the technology. you could use photoresistors and comparators to do the same thing for much less money and independantly of gps coverage (which should be no problem, i'm just saying)

Here's a thought (3, Funny)

dtfinch (661405) | more than 9 years ago | (#13183292)

Install some glass windows and skylights. More sunlight for a fraction of the price. Want to be able to turn it off? Just install some blinds.
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