Prism Light Guide - TIR Systems Ltd. and Philips Lighting

In 1982, Lorne Whitehead invented the prism light guide, a novel hollow light guide technology used in illuminating engineering. At the time, he was a graduate student working on an unrelated Masters project in superconductivity and upon completing his Masters degree, he received a research grant to work on the prism light guide full-time. Within a short period of time, the commercial potential of the technology became apparent, which led to Lorne founding TIR Systems Ltd. in 1983, one of UBC's first technology spin-off companies.

At TIR Systems, Lorne and a team of researchers and engineers designed, fabricated and installed many novel prism light guide systems. A key development was a partnership with 3M Company who used their precision microreplication abilities to manufacture a micro-prismatic plastic film specifically for the prism light guide. Some notable installations include the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum in Washington, DC, roofbeam illumination on many McDonald's restaurants across North America, and tunnel lighting in the Callahan and Sumner tunnels in Boston , MA . For ten years, Lorne served as the CEO of the company, until 1994 when he returned to UBC as a faculty member. TIR Systems Ltd. remained an active and growing company, and was acquired by Royal Philips Electronics in 2007.

 

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Strawberry Mansion Bridge, Philadelphia, PA
(Prism Light Guides designed, fabricated and installed by TIR Systems Ltd., Vancouver)