OLED (organic light emitting diode) lighting is progressing very quickly in the motor vehicle industry. With at least two manufacturers including OLEDs in their dashboard display lighting already and several manufacturers including them in several types of lighting within their concept cars, it appears OLED lighting is indeed the future mainstream lighting method.
OLED lighting is gaining popularity for several reasons. It is lightweight, energy efficient and is incredibly thin. An OLED light is actually a panel of light which can be used for all types of applications. The whole panel lights up because the construction of an OLED means that the thin layers of illuminating organic material produce light all across the entire fixture, rather than a panel being made up of several points of light as in an LED or a panel enclosing one light source as in a bulb technology.
One of the most promising properties of OLED lighting is that because of its incredibly thin structure, it can be made into very long panels. Most manufacturers are calling this “OLED tape”. OLED tape looks very promising as lighting for trailers.
Trailers require tail lights and brake lights. Tail light OLED panels are already being developed and the brake light technology is in the works. But beyond the obvious used of OLED lighting for tail lights, the most exciting use of OLED for trailers is for visibility issues. Currently, many trailers and large truck trailers use reflective material to increase their visibility to other drivers in the dark. OLED tape is perfectly suited to be used as safety lighting on trailers that is far superior to reflective tape.
Reflective tape on trailers requires a light source to be directly aimed at it before it shows up. Therefore, unless other drivers have their headlights pointed right at a trailer, they may not see the reflective material outlining the trailer. It is not unusual for drivers to mistake the dimensions of trailers in the dark. OLED lighting on trailers, however could be a big safety advancement as it can be lit with very little energy use from the vehicle and illuminate the outline of the trailer for other drivers whether or not there is a light aimed at it or not.
At some point in the very near future, it is not unlikely that trailers will be employing OLED lighting for all their light needs. Tail lights, brake lights, safety lighting and also interior lighting. There is already at least one project in the works that is developing interior lighting based on OLED panels that are powered by solar collectors. Even without the solar component, OLED panels are already being used as lighting fixtures in many applications.
Other types of trailers may be using OLED technology very soon as well. Travel trailers which require much of the same safety lighting as cargo trailers will use OLED panels and OLED tape in very much the same way. OLED panels for the interior lighting in travel trailers is also very much on its way into the mainstream.