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THE LED THAT LEADS: THE COOLOR THING
di Gianandrea Bittanti

What do you think when I talk about products such as the New Volkswagen Beetle, JetBlue Airline, or PepsiCo? What do you think the latest Hewlett-Packard Pavillon Laptop, the keys of a Samsung Sph-A460 the Sony's Playstation 2 have in common? Apparently nothing. On the contrary, these items share with each other a fashionable "cocktail" made up of Cyanophilia, semiconductors, and a considerable portion of glamour. It takes more than a spiffy adjective such as "new" or numbers like "2" to communicate that something has changed. Much more.

WHAT'S WHAT?

The new key factor is color. Or, much better, COOLor. It's about neither slogan nor design: it's mostly about feelings, emotions, and a subliminal visual world identity. Basically, you could be "in the black", but using bright blue. This color can catch the attention of consumers that have been spending their money on azure glow mobiles, ethereal cobalt blue on advanced instrument panels, and on Windex-Tinted soft drinks instead of choosing some items containing antique red and blue tones.

COME AGAIN, PLEASE

To tell the truth, the blue we are used to seeing in our big-tickets items is a special shade of blue: it's far from the opaque blue used by Ellsworth Kelly in her oil on canvass, Bay. It's the expensive blue-violet laser that unaxpectedly turned up in the audio industry and its derivates. The strange blue LEDs contained in many expensive items, that could be used alone or in combination with other colored LEDs with many profitable uses. When Shuji Nakamura discovered this when he was a researcher for a Japanese company, it's sad that he received a bonus of only 165 dollars from his company for remarkable invention, used by one of the most important corporations in the world: Krell Industries, which became Blaupunkt = blue dot, in 1938) to get their billion dollar break. Or probably, it's just the usual paradox.

By the way, examples of corporations that turned out the blue are many (take McIntosh Labs, who decided to put blue tinted faceplates on its sleek, and expensive top of the line stereo components, because that color was considered by some University of Michigan researchers as "the most visible to middle-aged males". McIntosh also bet on it to improve the luxury aspect of its items. Obviously, it doesn't depend just on color, but without any doubt it could be one important ingredient for what Americans call "the best way".

HOW LONG ?

Skipping over the cost ( blue LEDs cost $3, vs pennies for red and green leds) and relatives aspects, it will be interesting to see how long blue's associations with quality could be work. Personally, the main factor could be about ubiquity: when we see some blue cheap products, it will be time to change course, and we will be ready to be bowled over by new groovy tones, such as "fancy vanilla" or "unique purple". At that time, we'll probably be used to playing with luminescent joysticks that will be the measurement of innovative, advanced, and excessively modern yardsticks.

Gianandrea Bittanti

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