Lights that are mounted on the front of a vehicle to help increase visibility in fog conditions are called fog lights. These lights are generally yellow because yellow has a longer wavelength than clear lights, enabling the light to go further into the fog than regular headlights do. The intent is to extend the driver’s view as far as possible in bad conditions, as well as become more visible to other drivers when possible.
Currently most fog lights on vehicles are made from halogen light technology. Halogen lighting is a hot burning technology but is highly effective for use in fog lights. Automobile manufacturers are making great strides in the development of OLED (organic light emitting diode) technology now that may well replace most of the previous lighting technologies used for vehicles.
OLED lights are made from very, very thin layers sandwiched together. The outside layers are an electrically conductive materials (sometimes organic, sometimes not) and the inside layers are made from light emitting organic materials or polymers. This type of construction makes OLED lights extremely lightweight and very efficient both electrically and space wise.
Fog lights have traditionally been light fixtures mounted low on the front of a vehicle. OLED technology could well change that. Every OLED panel is itself an entire panel of light, and when manufactured in strips, OLED “tape” is effectively a long strip of light. Used for fog lights, strips could possibly help illuminate a broader area than other technologies.
Some vehicle manufacturers have already included OLED lighting for other purposes in their newer models and concept cars. Mainly, it is only being used as dashboard lighting and display lighting although there is also a project using OLED lighting combined with a solar panel in a sun roof that is also an interior light. OLED lighting is thought to be the future of lighting for vehicle tail lights, trailer lights and motorcycle lighting. As the technology develops, more uses are coming to the foreground and because it is so lightweight and energy efficient it has gained attention by almost all vehicle makers.
Fog lighting may well show up on more types of vehicles with the advancement of OLED lighting. Rather than an extra (as is the case with many vehicles), fog lighting could become a standard feature with the compactness that OLED lighting has to offer. With more vehicles possessing fog lighting, it is thought that vehicle safety in poor driving conditions could be increased considerably both because each driver may have some increased visibility and because drivers may be able to see each other quicker with more fog lights in use.
While the development of OLED lighting is unquestionably the future for new vehicles, it is most likely that the first uses will be for dashboard display panels. However, it may only be a matter of two or three years until we see OLED lighting in practical application for fog lights, tail lights and more.