Automobile manufacturers continue to work towards lighter weight vehicles with more efficient technology in order to make vehicles less reliant on traditional power sources due to cost and environmental impact. As this trend towards new, cleaner power sources continues, the implementation of OLED technology into the motor vehicle industry is a natural fit.
Organic light emitting diode (OLED) lighting is currently being developed for use in the automotive industry in several ways. While some of the uses in the auto industry seem quite obvious (such as dashboard lighting) there are others that are very innovative in their own right. One such application is vehicle tail lights.
There are currently concept cars in the works from more than one auto maker that are using OLED lighting for their tail light application. One advantage for these manufacturers is that OLED tail lights are much lighter and far thinner than traditional bulb type lights, but also far brighter than the LED lights that have been used in recent automobiles.
Tail lights on vehicles require a certain level of intensity for visibility to other drivers. Current OLED lights being developed for vehicle tail lights do meet the brightness requirements of automobile manufacturers. Tail lights are lights that must be illuminated whenever the front headlights are on. They must be bright enough to make a vehicle visible to other traffic from a certain distance in order to be considered safe for driving in the dark or limited visibility situations. Brake lights however, require a brightness level somewhere around five times the level necessary for tail lights. For this obvious reason, brake lights made of OLEDs are not as close to being used yet, while OLED tail lights are already being considered for future vehicles. Many vehicles have brake lights that are actually also part of the tail light system. At present it is unlikely that the brake lights and OLED tail lights would be used in that manner.
Unlike LEDs or other lighting options OLEDs can be manufactured onto flexible materials. In the case of a vehicles tail lights, flexibility may allow manufacturers to use wrap around lighting in places where they previously had to have rear and then also side lights on the vehicle. Wrap around OLED lighting may be one of the practical uses of the physical flexibility of the product. The old bulb type of tail lights require a moulded plastic cover over the bulb, while the LED type requires an encased group of LED lights. The newer OLED panels which are their own light source, it is possible to create a completely differently fitting tail light.
Of course, tail lights for automobiles are only the beginning of the new technology’s use in this kind of application. Once they become the mainstream, it is thought that tail lights on bicycles, scooters, trailers and so many more applications will easily follow, making a big difference to the size and weight of all such products.