Audi are to present their next step in automotive lighting technology at the IAA in Frankfurt. The new Matrix OLED lights enable a previously unattainable level of lighting homogeneity, opening up further creative opportunities for design.
Audi have systematically developed all aspects of OLED technology; earlier this year, they posted a video showing a "swarm"-themed matrix OLED rear lamp idea. Matrix OLED lights combine high tech engineering and design ideally – initial projects are currently underway to implement OLED technology in production tail lights. They are being shown for the first time in a concept car at the IAA.
In contrast to point light sources like LEDs, OLEDs are flat light sources. Their light attains a new level of homogeneity, and its dimming is continuously variable. The lights do not cast any shadows and do not require any reflectors, light guides or similar optical components. That makes the OLED units efficient and lightweight. In addition, they hardly need any cooling, though there remain challenges related to operation in high ambient temperatures and age-related degradation with sunlight exposure even when the lamps aren't lit.
But progress in OLED technology is being made rapidly. As increases in light density are realised, OLEDs will be able to generate turn signals and stop lights, not just low-intensity marking and decorative functions. The thin glass sheets that are used today to encase the organic material will be replaced by plastic films. These new flexible substrate materials will lend themselves to three dimensional forming, and this will open up entirely new creative spaces for designers.
Another benefit of OLEDs: They can be subdivided into small segments that can be controlled at different brightness levels. In addition, different colors and transparent OLED units will be possible. This enables new lighting scenarios with extremely fast switchover times, as in the Audi "swarm" demonstration. The illuminated sub-surfaces exhibit very precise boundaries with one another.