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From "lighting" to "expression", unlocking new trends in car lighting

As the "eyes" of a car, car lights are an important part of ensuring driving safety, and they are also a core element that enhances the appearance of the vehicle. In order to meet the new consumer demands under the smart trend, we see that car lights are being given more functions based on the original lighting, such as projecting interactive greetings, customizing and presenting various personalized patterns, flashing and rhythmic with music, etc. .

From lighting to expression, unlocking new trends in car lighting 1

Overall, the car lighting industry is ushering in new technological changes, and smart car lights are becoming a major trend. So what are the specific technological changes? How will relevant mainstream technologies be presented? How is the market performing? In response to this, Gasgoo recently visited Hella, Osram, Yiguang, Jinye and other automotive lighting companies, and had in-depth exchanges with Chris Kirchenbauer, head of the technical center of Hella's lighting division in China. You might as well take a look together.

LED has become the mainstream of the market, and the penetration rate has soared

After more than 100 years of evolution, car lights have evolved from the initial era of chemical lamps to the era of electric lamps. The electric lamps have gradually changed from incandescent lamps to the current halogen lamps, xenon lamps and LED lamps, as well as the foreseeable future OLED and laser headlights. .

From the current point of view, LED car lights have become the mainstream of the market due to their advantages such as energy saving and easier intelligent management. According to statistics from relevant institutions, LED penetration has continued to rise in recent years, growing from 23% in 2018 to 68% in 2020. "In recent years, I have been deeply impressed by the digitalization and market penetration of LED, especially the Chinese market, which is developing very fast." Chris Kirchenbauer said. At the same time, he pointed out that Hella has not used traditional light sources in headlight or taillight design for four to five years, and now uses all LEDs.

From lighting to expression, unlocking new trends in car lighting 2

Audi digital matrix LED headlights (Image source: Audi)

In addition to LED, OLED and laser lights have also gradually attracted the attention of car companies in recent years. Car companies such as BMW and Audi have launched new cars equipped with laser headlights. Domestic car companies such as BYD have also tried to use through-type OLED taillights in new cars.

Overall, the three technologies have their own advantages and disadvantages. In terms of brightness, they are laser car lights, LED car lights, and OLED car lights. In terms of usage, LED and laser are mostly used in headlights, while OLED is currently mostly used in taillights. Which one to choose depends on the comprehensive consideration of the car company.

From lighting to expression, unlocking new trends in car lighting 3

OLED car lights (Picture source: Yiguang Technology)

Intelligent integration, enhanced integration and flexibility

"No matter how versatile the functions of car lights are, safety is always the first priority. Especially in the era of autonomous driving, how to use intelligent means to better ensure vehicle safety through lighting has become the focus of the development of car lighting companies." Chris Kirchenbauer said.

In order to further improve safety, many manufacturers are now integrating intelligence into them, making the design of car lights more integrated and flexible. For example, ADB adaptive high beam has become increasingly popular in recent years. Traditional car headlights have always been dazzling and can easily dazzle drivers in the opposite lane when meeting cars at night, posing hidden dangers to driving safety. ADB is an intelligent high-beam control system that can adaptively change high-beam light patterns according to road conditions. It can judge the position and distance of the car ahead through the input of video camera signals, and adjust the lighting area accordingly, turn off or adjust The lights illuminate the dark oncoming vehicle area to avoid glare on oncoming vehicles while maximizing the driver's vision needs.

A person in charge of a car lighting company told Gasgoo that ADB is currently mainly used in luxury cars, and the current penetration rate in China is still relatively low. However, with the rapid development of smart cars and the increasing safety requirements of regulations, it will be used in the next few years. There will be a lot of room for growth. Some institutions predict that the ADB market space is expected to reach 24 billion yuan in 2023.

In addition, the integration of intelligence also simplifies many complex light sources and can cope with different road conditions and different regulatory requirements. For example, Hella's SSL 100 lighting system has been mass-produced. It is understood that the system can provide up to 102 pixels and each pixel can be activated individually. This allows vehicle companies to use software without modifying the hardware architecture. Flexibly adjust it to ensure specified light distribution. It can meet the relevant requirements for light distribution in different countries around the world and replace up to 12 different regional versions of headlamps.

More inclined to "interactive expression", the importance of software has increased

In addition to smart lighting, we have seen that car lighting functions are now beginning to upgrade to "interactive expression".

For example, the Zhiji Auto, jointly built by SAIC and Alibaba, is understood to be equipped with 2.6-megapixel DLP projector headlights and ISC pixel signal lights equipped with more than 5,000 LEDs to achieve V2X intelligent driving integration interaction and intelligent lighting expression. In addition, the new car's taillights can also display light shows, charging indicators, direction instructions, and warm interactive words of 'I love you'.

From lighting to expression, unlocking new trends in car lighting 4

Image source: Zhiji Auto

In addition, Hella’s newly launched chip-based SSL | HD lighting system is also one of the typical cases. With SSL | HD technology, HELLA has successfully integrated very small, individually switchable LED pixels on an intelligent driver chip. This technology not only complements existing lighting functions such as adaptive lighting and glare-free high beam, but also supports additional light-based safety functions, such as projected protective zones for cyclists or pedestrians, lane light markings, etc. It is understood that car lights equipped with SSL|HD technology will be put into production first in Europe, and will also be put into production in China in 2024.

Whether it is the display of personalized patterns or the rhythm of music, these all involve software programming. "As lighting technology becomes more and more complex, the role of software in automotive lighting technology is gradually rising. Many lighting needs to be coordinated with electronic components and software to complete. For this reason, we have set up a global software department to support The development of future-forward technologies." said Chris Kirchenbauer.

However, the interaction and expression of car lights are not limited to this. With the continuous advancement of autonomous driving, how to allow car lights to actively judge traffic conditions and release relevant signals has become a topic currently facing the industry. In this regard, HELLA believes that it is foreseeable to embed the sensors in the headlights or lighting components.

"Overall, car lights are developing in the direction of intelligence, personalization, and humanization. To this end, we are currently paying more attention to digitalization in the research and development of headlights, and the pixel ratio and other aspects are becoming more and more refined. With the development of autonomous driving In terms of development, we hope that in the future cars will be able to use lighting functions to communicate with other vehicles. In terms of taillights, on the basis of meeting regulatory requirements and vehicle differentiation needs, the next stage will revolve around personalization." Chris Kirchenbauer concluded. In the process of the author's understanding, not only Hella, this plan is also becoming the key expansion direction of many automotive lighting companies.


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From lighting to expression, unlocking new trends in car lighting 5

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