Home' Australian Automotive Aftermarket Magazine : Australian Auto Aftermarket e-Zine - Mar 13 Contents TECHNICAL COLUMN
The centrepiece of that article was the
development of active safety and driver
assistance systems which required the adoption
of cameras and/or spatial sensors into vehicles
for the first time.
Innovations which were only available on a
limited number of prestige vehicles at that time,
such as lane departure warning and advanced
emergency braking systems, are now mandated
in Europe for all new cars from November this
year.The obvious extension to the application of
camera technology in cars is their use as the
'eyes' of driverless (autonomous) vehicles which
is capturing the imagination of the industry and
Car lighting is becoming an important
distinguishing feature of car styling and the
widespread adoption of LED lighting has started
to define styling hues for car brands like never
For example Audi already takes a radical
approach to its lighting designs but things are
likely to be taken to the next level when new
innovations such as OLED and laser lighting
become available to the mass market.
This article will explore a number of these
new and innovative technologies which will, in
part, re-define the styling, function and human
interface for future cars.
Organic Light Emitting Diodes (OLED)
Probably the biggest advance in vision
technology for the last decade is the
introduction of Organic Light Emitting Diodes
Many major television manufacturers (LG,
Samsung, and Sony) will offer OLED products
during 2013 which will promise superior
performance with improved energy efficiency all
in a screen which will be around four
OLEDs are solid state devices composed of
thin films of organic molecules that create light
with the application of electricity.
OLEDs can provide brighter, crisper displays
on electronic devices and use less power than
conventional light-emitting diodes (LED) or
liquid crystal displays (LCD) used today.
The big difference between OLED and other
light sources, even LED, is that it enables a
whole surface to emit light, rather than just a
So what has all this got to do with cars?
OLED is a new display technology which can
be made flexible and transparent which opens
the way for new and exciting applications in
cars.Potential application areas include
dashboard and infotainment displays and
internal and external lighting.
At the recent 2013 Consumer Electronics
Show in Las Vegas, Audi showcased a number
of new technologies including new lighting
concepts using OLED.
OLED rear lights, turn signals and position
lights would reduce weight and save precious
There are a number of development
challenges to be overcome before OLED lighting
is introduced into the mass market but,
according to Audi, OLED will make an
appearance as rear lights in the relatively near
future but are expected to arrive on less price
sensitive premium models.
The 2013 Lexus RX450h uses white OLED
technology for the multi-information display in
the centre of the instrument cluster.
Unlike conventional LCD displays that
require backlighting, the OLED display offers
superior visibility through vibrant self-
luminescent characters sharply displayed on a
high-contrast black background and ensures
readability from a wide angle; enough for even
the front passenger to read.
A multi-information switch on the steering
wheel enables the driver to operate intuitive
park assist, adaptive front lighting and to select
an array of other personalised settings without
removing hands from the steering wheel.
In a novel application of this technology,
BMW has incorporated a small OLED display
into the top of the rim of a new sports steering
wheel for application on its M series
A choice of ECO, Sport and Race modes are
available and depending on the mode selected,
information such as current fuel consumption,
lap times, split-time and coolant and engine oil
temperatures is displayed on the OLED screen
at the push of a button located near the thumb
rest area of the steering wheel.
Following the introduction of LED
headlights, laser lighting is the next logical step
in the development of vehicle headlamp
Laser lighting is monochromatic, which
means that the light waves all have the same
And it is also what is known as a 'coherent'
light source, which means that its waves have a
constant phase difference.
As a result, laser lighting can produce a
near-parallel beam with intensity a thousand
times greater than that of conventional LEDs.
In vehicle headlights, these characteristics
can be used to implement entirely new
Also, the high inherent efficiency of laser
lighting means that laser headlights have less
than half the energy consumption of LED
Simply put, laser headlights save fuel.
The intensity of laser light poses no possible
risk to humans, animals or wildlife when used in
Amongst other things, this is because the
light is not emitted directly, but is first
converted into a form that is suitable for use in
The resulting light is very bright and white.
It is also very pleasant to the eye and has very
low energy consumption.
A further feature of laser technology is the
size of the individual diodes.
With a length of just ten microns, laser
diodes are one hundred times smaller than
square-shaped cells used in conventional LED
The reduction in the depth of the headlamp
unit opens up all sorts of new possibilities when
integrating the light source into the vehicle in
terms of headlamp positioning and body styling.
Laser lighting got its first airing in the BMW
i8 concept vehicle shown at the 2011 Frankfurt
motor show but is likely to be replaced with LED
headlamps on the production version due in
Car electronics and lighting
Ray Brown's last review of electronics and lighting technology in cars was two years
ago and, as expected, many of the innovations presented at that time are now
relatively commonplace and things have moved on considerably in the meantime.
38 AUTOMOTIVE AFTERMARKET MAGAZINE MARCH 2013
Readers are invited to send technical
enquiries of a general nature to:
Audi OLED Lighting
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