Stray Light: A “Bright” Idea Comes to Life in the Idea Capital

Thomas Edison was never short on ideas. But how many of you know that he spent time in the Idea Capital of the World? That’s right, Edison arrived in the region at the age of 19 when he was employed as a telegrapher for Western Union, working on the Associated Press bureau news wire. Working the nightshift, he spent his days conducting experiments with batteries and electricity. Seems that he had an idea for using electricity to make light, just to name one.

While Edison moved to New Jersey not long after, he would return to Louisville some 16 years later to wow the world with the first — and largest — public viewing of his incandescent light bulb, at the Southern Exposition. Edison installed about 5,000 of his new invention in the exhibition hall and art gallery so that they could be visited at night by visitors to the Exposition. That’s right, here in the Idea Capital — that was one idea that caught on!

Innovation, Entrepreneur Business Gerald Rea, CEO of Stray Light Optical Technoligies, Inc Today, another “bright” idea glows in our region. Gerald Rea has been working on the idea for an even better light, one that would be brighter, last longer and be more energy efficient than anything Edison might have imagined. Today, that light is a reality. Rea, founder and CEO of Stray Light Optical Technologies, Inc, developed and brought to market a revolutionary new light fixture designed around Light Emitting Plasma (LEP) technology. The fixture itself is designed to last through 100,000 hours of usage, using bulbs that will last for 25,000 hours. AND, it’s much brighter and 40% more efficient than anything else available.

When the Indiana Municipal Power Agency received a federal grant to retrofit streetlights in several communities, Scottsburg installed the new technology. And with Rea’s lamp being so much brighter than the ones they replaced, only half as many were needed.

Rea’s company is located in Scottsburg’s Mid-American Science Park, and it has already undertaken projects with NASA, Kennedy Space Center, Boeing, Disney, Paramount Pictures, the Monterey Aquarium, and Chicago’s Field Museum among others. The Scottsburg production facility is fully staffed, with enough orders to keep all of them very busy for a long time. In fact, they’re forecasting sales of more than $100 million over the next year.

For Rea and the employees of Stray Light, it’s not an exaggeration to say that the future is a bright one.


So whether it’s a dream come true or a dream in progress, the Idea Capital of the World remains a place where imaginations and individuals thrive.

Do you know a person with a great idea, or a company that brought its dream to market? Let us know – we’d love to tell their story on the KIX Blog.