Automakers are out to improve all the technology they can these days, lighting included. To that end, Audi is lighting the way to September’s Frankfurt Motor Show where the automaker says it will debut a new Matrix OLED organic lighting system in a mysterious concept car.
Basically, it’s a multitude of individual lights that switch on and off to “shadow” oncoming cars and pedestrians from the headlights’ dazzle. The whole idea behind these things is to be able to run high beams effectively all the time without blinding other drivers or people out for a stroll. Previously, Audi’s Matrix headlights used clusters of good old-fashioned LEDs.
If you’re not familiar with OLED, it stands for “organic light emitting diode.” Each of the units consist of two electrodes with one or both of them being transparent. These electrodes are arranged in thin layers of organic semiconductor materials that are under one-thousandth of a millimeter thick. These layers receive power from only three to four DC volts. This adds up to extremely efficient and lightweight lights that have low energy and cooling requirements.
LED lights are made up of semiconductor crystals, while OLED are flat light sources. This is what gives a supernatural quality to the OLEDs, and their lack of shadows provides continuously adjusting intensity and dimming.
The technology also allows each light unit to subdivide into smaller segments with each segment able to project individual levels of brightness. They can also project in a variety of different colors and don’t require reflectors, light guides, or similar components. This allows for the Audi design team to get really creative.
An example the creativity that OLED provides is seen in a concept design where a whole rear of the strip of the car is converted into a swarming light show of tiny red, yellow, and white lights. Another concept shows multicolored OLED lights rippling across the entire car. Both are extremely cool, but perhaps a bit distracting for real world driving.
Currently, we don’t know much about the mystery concept car Audi plans to demo the Matrix OLED lighting on. We’ll have to wait until September to find out.
At the Frankfurt Motor Show, the automaker will also debut the all-new 2017 model of its best-selling A4 sedan. The redesigned model is up to nearly 265 pounds lighter than the outgoing model.
The 2017 A4 is set to arrive in the U.S. in the second quarter of next year.