General Electric (NYSE:GE) light-emitting diode (LED) lighting subsidiary GELcore and Japanese lighting specialist Nichia have teamed up to accelerate worldwide adoption of LED-based devices for everyday use. The companies hope to see a new level of innovation and efficiency from the combination of talents, and also hope to grab a large portion of the estimated $12 billion global market for solid-state lighting devices.

A large part of the value in this announcement seems to rest on general signage applications, such as traffic signals, electronic billboards, and things like price announcement signs on gas stations. That puts GELcore in direct competition with companies like Daktronics (NASDAQ:DAKT) and Quixote (NASDAQ:QUIX), which each have a large presence in exactly those markets today.

After that, the focus should turn to general lighting, and with the number of companies and technologies hoping to replace today's light bulbs and fluorescent lights, the glowy-filament era in everyday lighting looks like it's coming to an end. GE isn't the only electronics powerhouse in that arena -- Philips (NYSE:PHG) is already a respectable LED competitor with its Luxeon product line. Cree (NASDAQ:CREE) may be a smaller company, but it's another formidable opponent in the LED lighting wars.

And of course, LEDs might not even take the cake at all. Cambridge Display (NASDAQ:OLED) and Rule Breakers selection Universal Display (NASDAQ:PANL), among others, are working on the next next-generation light panels already, based on organic LED (OLED) technology that promises even higher efficiency and more exotic application methods than traditional LED lights. Can you imagine your living room lit up by an entire wall, or the ceiling painted with OLED materials?

Some of this might sound like science fiction, but it's real technology that works today. And when big boys like Philips and GE put some muscle behind their solutions, it's just a matter of time before we can throw most of our light bulbs away. We won't even miss them.

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Fool contributor Anders Bylund is a Universal Display shareholder, but holds no other position in any of the companies discussed here. You can check out Anders' holdings if you like. Foolish disclosure is well-lit from every angle.