I was reading an article in a motoring magazine on the dramatic development of the LED and the impact it is having on modern automotive design.
One of the topics of discussion was the wake up call it is giving to the automotive industry. One very important demonstration was at a motor show that had the release of the Jaguar C-XF and while this would not be the first show car to have LED's it was considered one of the most dramatic.
The debut was at the Frankfurt Motor Show and used LED's to provide a very dramatic visual presentation. The display was kicked off by the press of the Jaguars start button.
First was an impressive display, some would say 'explosion', of blue lighting that began with the instrument panel, then flew around the cabin, combining after encompassing the rear seats. Along with this was a burst of more blue projecting itself down from the interior roof lining, at the same time the grille suddenly burst into life with a glow of LED lighting, very impressive.
And to finish the flash of feline impressions (well it is a Jaguar) the headlights had streaks of blue bisecting each of the rectangular elements.
Another leading example of LED technology in the automobile is the Audi R8. If you see one in the daytime you will notice daytime running lights under the main headlights, these are LED lamps. But do not think it stops there as the Audi R8's complete headlamp assembly, including the turn flashers, and the main and dipped beams are LED's.
The LED first made its mark in the automobile at the rear of the vehicle. The 3157 LED and its derivatives found favor with the engineers as brake lamps as they reach full intensity faster than the traditional incandescent bulb. They are now used in many car tail lamps.
And some companies have taken this to the next level. BMW has some that increase in brightness as greater pressure is applied to the brake pedal. Mercedes Benz have the brake lights pulsing quickly when the vehicle is braking heavily.
Technology is allowing today's automobile manufacturers to provide many entertainment and other computer based systems that have the potential to load up the cars power supply. So any device that can assist in reducing the energy consumption has suddenly become very attractive.
This is one of the key drivers that has lifted the LED to the top of the automotive lighting wish list.
This energy saving is not the only driver as one of the other benefits is the life of the bulb. The LED's will outlive the automobiles to which they have been fitted. The owner will never have to replace a light bulb again.
Some of the other benefits include the ability to 'tune' the light so that the light emitted is closer to daylight. Also for automotive designers the constraints on shapes disappear as they are extremely flexible in the shapes that can be achieved. Also the heat generated is a lot less so lightweight plastics hi strength plastics can be used.
Another excellent use of the light emitting diode in the automobile application is the humble traffic light, a brilliant application that ensures we have robust lighting for years to come.