Last Thursday night, with the Mayor of New York City and prominent city officials looking on, Robert Allen the Chairman of AT&T turned on AT&T’s new signage display in New York’s Time Square. The cheering could be heard all the way across the continent to the factory of Super Vision International, Inc. (Nasdaq: SUPVA) in Orlando, Florida which constructed the central element of the display, the thirty five foot diameter globe which highlights all the continents in fiber optics and simulates AT&T data racing across oceans and continents. Cities serviced by AT&T throughout the planet light up and sparkle with fiber optic lights while waves of red data flash across white fiber optic illuminated lines from New York to Moscow, Miami to Buenos Aires, San Francisco to Tokyo and many other cities worldwide. “We installed as much optical fiber in this one sign as AT&T would use to link two small cities together, we worked many weekends and evenings to deliver this display on time, our staff rejoiced when we learned they threw the switch,” commented Brett Kingstone, Super Vision’s thirty six year old President.
Although the display is not the first one in Times Square it is truly unique due to the fact that it represents both the largest and most sophisticated fiber optic signage display ever constructed. According to Kingstone: “After almost one hundred years of domination by neon, the first fiber optic sign to enter New York’s Times Square was constructed by Super Vision for Coca-Cola four years ago; this was an important display because it broke the ice for our new technology.” With over one hundred electronic light sources and fifty miles of optical fiber the AT&T display is a technological master piece utilizing close to twice the amount of fiber optics that it took to light up and animate the Coca-Cola bottle in Times Square. The fiber optics were drilled and placed through a giant three dimensional fiberglass relief of the world where mountain ranges, valleys and streams were carved out and painted to simulate a view of earth from space. The light and motion effects were generated by the electronic light sources which utilized computer controlled motors to rotate color filters in front of the fibers at precise times and sequences.
“In my opinion the view from behind the AT&T sign is even more impressive than the front face,” comments Steve Faber, Super Vision’s thirty year old Chief Engineer and designer of the AT&T fiber optic sign’s electronic control system. Faber spent the last few nights before the AT&T light up deadline writing computer code on a scaffolding behind the sign until 3 am. “You have a deadline for a large customer, so you do what it takes to make it happen,” said Faber. “Make it happen” is the Super Vision philosophy. The average age of the company staff is twenty nine and for many employees including Faber, their Super Vision employment started as a part time job when they were in school. “This was my first real job since I got out of school,” said Super Vision’s twenty seven year old Quality Control Manager Roy Archer; “when I started six years ago they were only a few people working out of a small garage; years later they sent me to quality control school and now they are a publicly traded company building the largest fiber optic signs in the world.” Among Super Vision’s other landmark projects are the fiber optic lighting cable installations for Hanayashiki Amusement Park and the Tokyo Dome in Tokyo, Japan; Coca-Cola in Buenos Aires, Argentina; Blackpool Pleasure Beach in Blackpool, England; Euro-Disneyland in France; and the Kosoo Grand Bridge in Korea.
“Our objective is to eventually take a significant percentage of the estimated $35 billion dollar neon market with our fiber optic cable,” says Kingstone. “With the ability of our plastic fiber optic cable to save more than fifty percent of the electrical costs of glass neon tubing and dramatically limit the safety and maintenance hazards of neon, we think we have a pretty good shot at our goal in the future.”
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