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MIT Technology Review

35 Innovators Under 35

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  • Ihor Lys

    32

    Ihor Lys wants to color your world with light that morphs, fades and blends in computerized patterns, thanks tomultihued arrays of lightemitting diodes (LEDs). Lys came to lighting after 11 years at Carnegie Mellon University, where he studied electrical engineering and robotics. While working on an LED-based display for a robot, he realized that by combining bright blue LEDs—just then being reported in labs—with existing red and green ones, he could create new possibilities for digitally controlled illumination. But it took circuit design virtuosity to produce lush visual environments using these simple indicator lights. In 1997 he teamed up with engineer George Mueller and launched Boston-based Color Kinetics, which reported revenues of $17 million in 2001.Colors from its LED fixtures fill corporate lobbies, swimming pools, spas—and even emanate from the cables of Philadelphia’s Ben Franklin Bridge. Lys “keeps pulling off miracles,” says the MIT Media Lab’s Michael Hawley, a Color Kinetics board member. But Lys views his mission in simple terms: “I see things that are expensive and difficult, and I want to make them cheap and easy.”