A wide variety of shapes and signals can also be projected onto the asphalt. So for example, on particularly narrow roads or lanes, two strips of light shine onto the road where the car is about to drive to show the exact driving line and the width of the vehicle. “We all know that uncomfortable feeling when the lane gets very narrow driving through a construction area,” says Berlitz, outlining the situation. “Am I going to get past that wide truck?” The light tracks give drivers a secure feeling and they are far more relaxed when they drive through the bottleneck.”
And the lighting expert goes one step further. When piloted driving has revolutionized the automotive sector a few years from now, matrix lighting will be able to make even more of its potential, as there will be a need for completely new forms of communication between road users. “The car will be able to communicate with pedestrians in a number of different ways,” explains Berlitz. This also applies to when the driver is momentarily distracted, by reading e-mails for instance – because, in future, the car will drive itself. There could be light signals to indicate the direction of travel, or carpets of light to assist decision-making at crosswalks.
Berlitz walks around a prototype and is followed by homogeneous illumination from OLEDs (Organic Light Emitting Diode) gracing the flanks of the OLED Lighting design study. “The light follows the driver around the car and indicates, for example, where the door handles are,” explains Berlitz, thinking about the future possibilities presented by this technology. “That obviously applies to the inside, too. The interior will merge more and more with the exterior.”
At the rear end, the two rear-light clusters shine with razor-sharp contours. Several small “light tiles” are arranged artistically inside them. Organic LEDs are in use here, too. An individual OLED can be the size of a smartphone display, but the material beneath it is less than one millimeter thick. This presents countless opportunities for design.
Each “light tile” consists of seven different layers stacked one on top of the other. Some are for the purpose of component efficiency, with the most prominent, however, being the emitter layer. In each OLED, two electrodes, at least one of which has to be transparent, encase multiple, thin layers of organic semi-conductor material. A low-voltage direct current – between three and four volts – cause the layers, each less than a thousandth of a millimeter thick, to light up. Like conventional LEDs, OLEDs are based on the phenomenon of electroluminescence.