Audi Teases New Concept With Matrix OLED Technology For 2015 Frankfurt
The development of LED lights for automobiles has produced dramatic changes in automotive design. Not only are new head- and taillight shapes possible, but the fairly recent notion of a car having a distinctive “light signature” is becoming commonplace as designers find ways to make cars recognizable even in the dark.
Audi was one of the first marques to adapt a very specific light signature, and it’s poised to stay at the front of the lighting game with the announcement of a concept coming to Frankfurt that uses organic light-emitting diode (OLED) technology. Audi says that OLED technology provides a more homogenous, even light than LEDs and can be continuously dimmed. The upcoming concept is teased in a just-released video that tracks the history of automotive lighting from the gas-lit headlamps of brass-era cars all the way through modern LED headlamps, ending with a demonstration of the versatility of OLEDs and a glimpse of the lights on the new concept. Whatever else the upcoming concept has to show off, it’ll also provide a glimpse at the future of Audi’s lighting technology.
That future looks pretty slick. In the short video Audi shows off the OLED lights’ ability to adjust to a wide variety of conditions, changing illumination to suit a wide variety of situations in addition to changing the look of Audi’s cars. After Audi’s successful applications of LED and laser headlights, we can’t wait to see what it’s come up with this time.
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Why it matters
Audi’s OLED lights are flat light sources, rather than individual points of light like LEDs. They consist of multiple layers of organic semiconductors that are illuminated by low-voltage DC. The light doesn’t cast shadows, and requires no reflectors, so they are more compact and lightweight. Audi says its OLEDs also need very little cooling.
The lights are being developed with an eye toward production. BMW used OLED taillights on its 2014 BMW Vision Future Luxury concept, and Audi’s "Matrix OLED" is expected to be much more production-ready, the better to beat BMW to market. Current prototypes use thin glass sheets, and Audi is experimenting with more durable and flexible plastic films that will make it possible to use OLEDs for turn signals and brake lights. Accent lighting could take on a whole new dimension, as OLEDs can be used as a three-dimensional display illuminating the entire silhouette of a car. Multi-colored lights with very precise boundaries are also possible.