LED Lighting And Video Game Pioneer Peter Hochstein Dies At Age 65
Relume Technologies founder Peter Hochstein, a pioneer in LED outdoor lighting and multi-player video game technology, unexpectedly died of natural causes over Memorial Day weekend. He was 65 years old.
Hochstein, who served as Relume’s president, board director, and chief technology officer, passed away at his home in Troy, MI, Relume said in a statement.
Oxford, MI-based Relume, one of the Michigan’s most promising cleantech startups, makes technology, invented by Hochstein, that allows outdoor lights to last longer and consume less energy.
“What Peter has done over the past decade was develop a whole portfolio of intellectual property (IP) that allows LED lighting to deliver on its promise, to be as good and as bright as existing lights and use only a fraction of the energy,” Beringea managing director Jeff Bocan told Xconomy in an interview today. “His IP is real ground breaking and was literally decades away from others in the industry.”
Beringea, a venture capital/private equity firm based in Farmington Hills, MI, is Relume’s top financial backer, having invested $3.5 million into the company over the past two years.
Hochstein, who graduated from Acton College and University of Toledo with degrees in science and physics, was a prolific inventor.
In 1991, he invented a multi-player video gaming technology, which he later patented. With his children stuck inside the house during the long winter months in Michigan, Hochstein created a way to them to play Nintendo’s Super Mario Brothers with other kids in the neighborhood over a telephone’s standard copper wires, Bocan says.
More than a decade later, Hochstein sued Microsoft and Sony, alleging the Xbox and Playstation 2 consoles violated his patents. Sony eventually settled, but a federal judge in Detroit last year ruled in favor of Microsoft, according to a Bloomberg News report.
As a senior project manager at General Motors’ materials and structure laboratory, Hochstein worked on classified ballistic missile projects for the American military and LED lighting technology.
Hochstein founded Relume Technologies in 1994. The company’s LED technology eventually caught the eye of Beringea, which made its first investment in December 2009.
“We realized ‘Wow, there is an absolute of treasure chest of value here in the IP,’” Bocan says. “If we can build a real lighting company, bring in management, there’s an amazing opportunity to build a next generation lighting company based on this technology.”
Hochstein’s death is a big blow to Relume, Bocan says.
However, he says, “The hard work has already been done. The next step was commercializing the technology in such a way that we truly are meeting the market demand. We’re blessed that we were given a huge running start on the industry.”
Relume just landed $1 million in orders over the past two consecutive months, a milestone for the company, Bocan says.
“It’s starting to happen,” Bocan says. “It’s one of those sad things, we lose Peter right when we were starting to deliver on his vision.”