Look at any recent model car, SUV or truck, and you’ll notice a lot has changed in the world of automotive lighting. LED taillights and many taillight designers are choosing to diffuse hotspots to create a homogenized LED taillight signature that is almost pleasant to be stuck behind in traffic. Windshield heads-up displays, LiDAR, time of flight, facial recognition and other driver assistance technologies are growth drivers for automotive manufacturers, so drivers can expect to see new features coming for all cars, even moderately priced ones.
This is a perfect example of computer graphics, optics, and vision coming together for average consumers and not just nerds. We tech-heads have long espoused the benefits of graphics, but the practical examples have often been difficult to point to — now you can look at one every time you drive.
|The advent of LEDs for automotive lighting enabled better, brighter, thinner lighting assemblies, but they weren’t necessarily attractive. Light-diffusing techniques like those employed by Luminit can make staring at taillights a little less excruciating.|
Torrance CA-based Luminit’s been around the block when it comes to automotive optics. You can find their light shaping diffuser technology in vehicles you see on the road today. Recently the company developed an AMECA-approved optical microstructure and formed the company within a new organization, Luminit Automotive Technologies (LAT).
Luminit Light Shaping Diffuser microstructures can be precisely shape, control and homogenize light sources and are a highly efficient method of eliminating LED hotspots and uneven light distribution. The company’s microstructure-based technology also provides uniform illumination and precise beam-shaping for critical applications such as LiDAR and time of flight. Efficient (> 90%), pseudo-random, non-periodic structures manipulate light by changing the direction of its energy. The microstructures can distribute light into specific cone angles within a degree of accuracy and can shape light in both circular and elliptical formats.
Single-layer THC laser-HUD for automotive head-up displays
Luminit has also turned its attention to automotive HUDs. They are able to replace traditional optics with a thin, lightweight clear film component. As the name suggests Lumenit’s transparent holographic components (THCs) have volume and can provide optical power and perform both lens and mirror functions. The company says their THCs delivery brighter, more compact designs with larger virtual image size and larger Field of View. The laser-HUD design takes up less than 1.5 liters under the dash.
What do we think?
The company makes beam-forming optics that have been used to precisely illuminate the large buildings and provides directed lighting within offices and public places. They’ve also designed Light Shaping Diffusers that can convert discrete light point sources into one uniform light source for an even appearance on LED strip lights.
Applying their skills to a holographic-like HUD is a big challenge. Getting a dynamic brightness that gives a consistent image in the daytime or at night, while offering a wide FOV and large eye box is not easy and has been a consistent criticism of in-auto HUDs. If the driver doesn’t hold his or her head in just the right spot the HUD can’t be seen. Luminit thinks they have solved those problems and is now looking for ODMs to employ Luminit’s technology