2 page Case Study
Posted: 6/25/2014
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Cree LED Lighting Company Wows Customers, Enhances Presentations with Touch Displays

Cree added Perceptive Pixel by Microsoft to its Lighting Experience Centers to help customers visualize LED lighting solutions in their facilities. By using the large touch displays, Cree has been able to create a more intimate, collaborative presentation environment while enhancing its image as a technologically advanced company. The new devices offer a unique feature set and are intuitive to learn and use.

Business Needs
Founded in 1987 as a maker of materials for semiconductor applications, Cree expanded successfully into light-emitting diode (LED) manufacturing and LED lighting production. In 2007, Cree introduced its first LED lighting product, which set a new standard by producing crisp, white light for LED use in general-illumination applications such as ceiling fixtures and street lights. Recognizing the revolutionary potential of LED lighting for energy efficiency, Cree expanded its LED product lines and introduced its first consumer product, the Cree® LED Bulb, which became one of the best-selling LED bulbs in the US in just one year.

Today, Cree’s mission is to eliminate energy-inefficient lighting. Cree lighting products are available to builders and homeowners through distributors and retailers around the world. In the past seven years, Cree revenues have grown substantially, with an estimated 22 percent compound annual growth rate. Cree is based in Durham, North Carolina, and employs more than 7,000 people.

As part of the transformation into a global player in the lighting market, Cree needed to polish its semiconductor-centric image and create a first-class briefing center for lighting customers. The company built two Lighting Experience Centers, in Durham, North Carolina, and Racine, Wisconsin, to serve as interactive learning environments where Cree could teach customers and prospects about LED lighting and work with them to incorporate Cree products into their facilities. The Lighting Experience Centers not only immerse visitors in innovative Cree technology but reinforce the company’s image as a high-tech innovator.

At the Durham Lighting Experience Center, designers wanted to move away from noninteractive Microsoft PowerPoint presentations. Cree initially tried downward-firing projectors and infrared (IR) cameras that projected architectural drawings onto tabletops. Cree staff and customers used IR pens to interact with the drawings. Unfortunately, the whole setup had limitations. “The projection system ultimately proved to be not functional,” says Don Hirsh, Senior Manager of the Cree Durham Lighting Experience Center. “We wanted large-format touch screens that were truly interactive, cost-effective, and really beautiful.”

Cree contacted 919LABS, a local expert in touch manipulation technology, which recommended Perceptive Pixel by Microsoft. Perceptive Pixel (PPI) is a large-format, multipoint touch display that presents information in a visually stunning way. People interact with data using their fingers or a pen.

* Customers can’t wait to get their hands on the Perceptive Pixel; we’re able to let them better control the session and focus on what’s important to them rather than dragging them through a presentation. *

Don Hirsh
Senior Manager, Lighting Experience Center, Cree

“Microsoft perfected both cost and ease of use with the PPI,” says David Fuller, Founder and President of 919LABS. “There are a lot of touch-based displays on the market, but having a pen was critical to Cree. The PPI has incredible precision, stability, and performance, all of which play into a great presentation and collaboration session.”

Cree purchased two 55-inch PPIs and put them in its Durham Lighting Experience Center flanking its central presentation screen. Each PPI is mounted on a powered, orbital stand supplied by 919LABS and connected to a computer running the Windows 8.1 operating system. By using the 919LABS portable stand, Hirsh can easily adjust the height and viewing angle to any user’s requirements.

With the PPIs, Cree presenters have two Internet-connected touch-screen monitors to augment presentations. If a customer asks a question during a presentation, Hirsh can pull up a product datasheet on the PPI and underline or circle items for emphasis. He can project the customer’s drawings and use markup software to discuss fixture placement and type. When there are only four or five people in the room, they can gather around the PPI and mark up drawings together. “It is much easier to carry on a multithreaded conversation with the PPIs at hand,” Hirsh says. “I don’t have to interrupt my presentation to find other materials.”

Cree plans to deploy PPIs in its Racine Lighting Experience Center and plans to deploy computer-aided design software specific to the lighting industry to deepen collaboration. It will also use PPIs at high-end tradeshows and introduce them to its engineering team to help with product design.

By adding Perceptive Pixel devices to its Lighting Experience Center, Cree has created a more effective presentation and learning environment and enhanced its innovative image with cost-effective devices that are intuitive to learn and use.

Create More Intimate Presentation Environment
“With so much information on our website, customers show up in our centers knowing all the basics,” Hirsh says. “These sessions end up being much more extemporaneous—a dialog versus a presentation—and the PPI really enhances the conversation. Customers can’t wait to get their hands on the Perceptive Pixel; we’re able to let them better control the session and focus on what’s important to them rather than dragging them through a presentation. We can give customers an easier way to navigate the information that we’re discussing.”

Convey High-Tech Image
The PPIs also enhance Cree’s image as a technologically advanced company. “Nearly everyone who sees the PPI says, ‘I want one!’” Hirsh says. “They are incredibly cool devices. We’ve spent a lot of money on our briefing centers to give them a ‘wow!’ factor, and the PPIs make a big contribution.”

Learn Intuitively
An added bonus is the fact that Cree gained industry-leading presentation technology. “Anyone who’s played with a smartphone knows how to use the PPI,” Hirsh says. “All the basic gestures are the same, only bigger. Our staff and our customers know how to use it immediately. The PPIs work very well.”

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Solution Overview

Organization Size: 7000 employees

Organization Profile

Cree is a technology company that develops and manufactures industry-leading LEDs, LED lighting, and semiconductor solutions for wireless and power applications. It is headquartered in Durham, North Carolina.


  • Perceptive Pixel by Microsoft

Software and Services
Windows 8

Vertical Industries
High Tech & Electronics

United States