From Cars to Coffee Shops, Segmented OLED Lights Empower Communication and Branding Potential

By Jeff Spindler, Director of Research and Development at OLEDWorks

As lighting technology advances, it provides increasingly unique and custom lighting options. One such advancement is the use of segmented OLED lighting, which can increase safety in automotive applications and branding potential across nearly every industry.

What is Segmented OLED Lighting?

OLED lighting’s unique composition and manufacturing process means it can be designed with intrinsic, individually addressable and dimmable segments within the panel design. These segments can take on the shapes of triangles, hexagons, or virtually any desired shape and size, and can be illuminated to create symbols or patterns.

Because they are built into the design of the panel and are not just a film placed over the lit area, each segment has crisp and clear edges with a super high contrast. The OLED illumination within the lit segment can be very bright and highly uniform at the same time, unlike any other lighting technology. In the off-state, OLEDs typically have a mirror finish which gives them a chrome-like appearance.

Segmented OLED Lighting
OLED lighting segmentation for automotive – over 600 segments in a lit area of 56mm x 203mm

Logos and patterns can be combined with segmentation, allowing for parts of logos to be illuminated and dimmed individually and dynamically. Imagine a company logo consisting of letters and objects, where the letters can be lit separately, and the objects can also be broken into pieces and lit separately. Highly intricate and fine patterns can be uniformly illuminated, even as small as the diameter of a human hair. Dynamic lighting sequences and animations can be customized as desired – the possibilities are endless with segmented OLEDs.

Wegmans OLED Logo Panel
Example of crisp OLED logo capabilities*

These options expand the possibilities for lighting design and branding across every application from transportation to commercial and residential lighting.

Segmented OLEDs for Automotive Rear Lighting

Segmented OLED lighting originally found adoption in the automotive industry, particularly for rear tail lighting. When used in rear combination lighting, the vehicle can display a light signature that cannot be replicated with any other technology, imbuing the car with a sense of individuality. Additionally, OLED taillights can increase driver and passenger safety through Car-to-X communication.

Car-to-X communication is the process of technologies in a vehicle sharing information in real time. Segmented OLED lighting is one such Car-to-X technology and can share information with surrounding drivers. For example, if a driver suddenly presses the brake, rear OLEDs can display a dynamic warning symbol to the drivers behind them, telling them to slow down.

Animation of OLED Car-to-X communication – Courtesy of Audi Media Center

As the number of segments per panel increases, OLEDs can display increasingly complex symbols and imagery. If the road is icy, a symbol like a snowflake can inform those behind to drive cautiously. If there is an accident ahead, a different symbol could indicate that drivers need to slow down and move over. These dynamic warnings give drivers additional time to respond to this information, increasing the safety of everyone on the road.

Segmented OLED Animations
OLED Snowflakes – an example of OLED animation capabilities

Additionally, segmented OLEDs can be used in Center High Mounted Stop Lights (CHMSLs) to further differentiate between brands. Using individually addressable segments of OLED lighting, CHMSLs can be created with unique designs that include the manufacturer’s illuminated logo.

OLEDWorks CHMSL concept

Segmented OLEDs for Automotive Interiors

Just like exterior lighting, interior lighting for automobiles is becoming more and more complex and digitalized with increasing numbers of new light elements and functions for day and night lighting. Interiors of cars will become more like a living space with dynamic and adaptive lighting functions for safety, comfort, ambiance, styling, and brand differentiation.

Digital segmented OLEDs fit perfectly into this future scenario. While LEDs and other intense light sources must be hidden to indirectly illuminate the interior, segmented OLEDs will excel in dynamic interior lighting applications where the light source is preferred to be directly in view, due to the soft and diffuse nature of the OLED emission. This can include ambient lighting, mood lighting, task lighting, mirror lighting, illuminated logos or emblems, and welcome/farewell lighting signatures. And because of their ultrathin profile and flexibility, segmented OLED lights can be seamlessly integrated into thin and narrow embedded spaces inside the vehicle.

OLEDs Expand Design and Branding Potential for Retail and Hospitality

Beyond the benefits for digital automotive lighting, segmented OLEDs enable companies to create unique branding opportunities.

Retail locations and coffee houses could greet their customers with dynamically illuminated logos or custom lighting animations using segmented OLEDs embedded in walls, countertops, partitions, tables and other furniture.

Starbucks OLED Logo Panel
Example of OLED logo capabilities for coffee shops

Likewise, hotels could greet travelers with their dynamically illuminated logos on the wall at each entrance, at service desks, bars, lounges, and other common locations. Beyond specific logos, dynamic and adaptive digital segmented OLED lighting can also extend to signage such as exit, “no smoking”, and restroom sign illumination, as well as ambient lighting, nighttime lighting, way finding, and task lighting in rooms.

Hilton OLED Logo Panel
Examples of OLED logo illumination for hospitality settings

With the ability to adjust their design to meet each project’s specific needs, segmented OLEDs create custom lighting solutions that cannot be matched by other lighting technologies. When combined with their ultrathin profile, flexibility, dimmability, excellent reliability, long lifetimes and unparalleled light quality, OLED lighting offers an ideal choice for custom embedded lighting solutions.

*This article contains images of illuminated corporate logos as demonstrations of OLED lighting capabilities. Neither nor OLEDWorks claim any relationship or affiliation with these companies.

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