Kevin Stone has more than 30 years in the lighting industry; he has held positions ranging from lighting designer to a product designer, including having developed proprietary and patented color-filtration and beam-shaping technologies as an inventor and product designer.
Live Design recently caught up with Stone upon the announcement of his new company, Dallas Lighting & Photonics, Inc, formerly CYM-Metric Consulting, of which he is the president and CTO.
Live Design: You’re now president and CTO of Dallas Lighting & Photonics. Tell us a little about how you decided to start a new company.
Kevin Stone: I had been doing contract design work through my consulting company for several years when a discussion with Rosco Laboratories’ Mark Engel led to the possibility of a contract to design and manufacture a broad new suite of solid-state lighting products for that company. I also had a couple of patent filings that needed a more robust entity than my consulting company to bring to fruition. As a result, I created Dallas Lighting & Photonics as a vehicle for fulfilling the contract that eventually arose from the Rosco discussions and for taking the patent-pending designs into other areas.
LD: Describe the structure of the company.
KS: DLP was spun up from my former consulting company, CYM-Metric Consulting. In addition to myself, Steve Washington, formerly of [Philips] Vari-Lite, PRG, and Syncrolite, is on board as COO, while Paul Williams of Bison Financial Group serves as CFO.
LD: You have some OEM relationships already. Can you tell us about them?
KS: We recently inked an initial five-year contract, with the option of two, two-year extensions, with Rosco Laboratories to provide exclusive design and manufacturing services for its new range of solid-state architectural, theatrical, and production lighting products. The products will take advantage of our patent pending high-density LED arrays and other proprietary technologies, but details will have to await actual product introductions. I can offer the tease that many of the products will be predicated on a geometric LED array technology that multiplies lumen density, and that they will employ cutting-edge passive cooling technology. We’re also pursuing a couple of other OEM contracts with companies whose product lines do not intersect Rosco’s exclusive markets, but it’s early to comment on those.
LD: Do you also plan to develop your own products, with your own brand name?
KS: We do. In the near future, we expect to port our high-density array products to automotive and other industries under either the DLP brand or that of a subsidiary created for that purpose.
LD: You spent many years helping to develop products for Syncrolite and other moving light companies, like Vari-Lite. How did that prepare you for this role?
KS: The experience at Syncrolite was invaluable, as were my many years with Vari-Lite and past collaborations with Rosco Labs. Syncrolite, in particular, granted me a great deal of latitude to test my creativity and to pursue novel solutions to longstanding problems. At Syncrolite, for example, we pioneered the use of the now-ubiquitous Luminit light-shaping diffusers and were the first product to employ Rosco’s DichroFilm. Our focus on optical efficiency also provided lessons that were readily ported to solid-state lighting systems.
LD: Coming from a product development background, what do you think has been the most exciting development in entertainment technology in the last year? How about in the last 10?
KS: I’m a nuts and bolts guy, so while the obvious answers would be various developments in SSL components, I am more impressed by new materials, such as high thermal transfer flex substrates and adhesives, high-transmission polymers, and new metal casting technologies that reduce porosity and allow the casting of anodizable alloys. While these may not be “entertainment technology” per se, they will enable next generation products that improve light output and product longevity.
LD: What inspires your ideas for new products?
KS: I look for voids in the industry, for problems in need of a solution. Most of the products I developed for Syncrolite were solutions to such problems, just as most products currently in development for DLP are meant to address issues such as the relatively poor lumen density of LEDs and the concomitant difficulty in attaining good collimation or focus or adequate thermal dissipation in very high-output, noiseless passive systems.
LD: Where do you see DLP a year from now? How about in the next five to 10?
KS: A year from now, I see us knee-deep in developing Rosco’s innovative new product line, getting our own line-up of products into the market, and working ahead on some other new technologies now on the drawing board. Five to 10 years from now, I would like to see the company having firmly established its reputation through a broad range of forward-thinking products aimed at moving the performance bar for solid state light sources and having expanded into most facets of the high-end lighting industry.
LD: Who have been some influences in your career, and how?
KS: Vari-Lite’s Jim Bornhorst was a huge influence with his outside-the-box thinking. Syncrolite’s BJ Schiller was also a significant influence, teaching me the value of robust design. Beyond that, the years I spent on the end-use side of the industry, designing concert tours, television, etc., were invaluable in imbuing a practical understanding of not only how products conceptually work, but how they are practically employed and how features that seem like a great idea in the lab are not necessarily such great ideas in the field.