IEC's update to international laser standards removes regulatory hurdle to laser illuminated projector products

May 22, 2014
The Laser Illuminated Projector Association (LIPA), an industry group founded in 2011 to speed the adoption of laser-illuminated projectors into movie theaters, is in agreement with the recent laser illuminated projector standard created by the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC).

The Laser Illuminated Projector Association (LIPA; San Jose, CA), an industry group founded in 2011 to speed the adoption of laser-illuminated projectors into movie theaters, is in agreement with the recent (May 16, 2014) laser illuminated projector (LIP) standard created by the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC; Geneva, Switzerland).

The updated standard was unveiled in the May 16 publication of IEC 60825-1:2014, also known as "Edition 3."

Among the many updates, Edition 3 states that LIPs should be classified the same way as lamp-based projectors, rather than as laser-light-show products. This is important, because laser-light-show equipment must be held to far-stricter safety standards than lamp-based cinema projectors.

LIP output is not laser-beam-like

And in fact, LIPs are similar to lamp-based projectors in that they project a broad field of light, not a narrow laser beam; the laser light in a LIP is diffused and broadened within the LIP optics, resulting in a broad wash of light (the advantages of the lasers over lamp-based sources include higher brightness, longer life, a larger color gamut, and higher efficiency).

The IEC's Technical Council 76 (TC76), which drafted and debated the new standard, is an international group of laser experts who based their analysis upon a comprehensive technical review of the latest laser products. Almost every country bases its product safety regulations upon the IEC standards, and many will now take additional steps to ensure its effective implementation. Many countries, including the U.S. and the European Union member states, are in various stages of review of the new standard for consistency with its existing laws and regulations.

In the U.S., LIPA will continue to collaborate with the Food and Drug Administration's (FDA's) Center for Devices and Radiological Health (CDRH) to maintain a regulatory pathway that reflects the non-laser-beam-like optical output of LIPs. In the European Union, LIPA will continue to work with local jurisdictions to ensure that LIPs meet consumer and workplace safety regulations and to make sure those regulations are consistent with optical radiation directives.

"The IEC has recognized the changing nature of laser and projection technology and helped to lift a significant market burden on the projection industry," says Pete Ludé, chairman of LIPA's regulatory committee. "We look forward to further updates to IEC standards, such as the IEC 62471-5, and the prompt actions by governments and regulatory bodies around the world to update regulations to reflect this important new international standard."

For more info on LIPA, see: www.LIPAInfo.org

About the Author

John Wallace | Senior Technical Editor (1998-2022)

John Wallace was with Laser Focus World for nearly 25 years, retiring in late June 2022. He obtained a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering and physics at Rutgers University and a master's in optical engineering at the University of Rochester. Before becoming an editor, John worked as an engineer at RCA, Exxon, Eastman Kodak, and GCA Corporation.

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