Revolutionary in-car HUD shows power of flexible, transparent OLED lighting technology

Revolutionary in-car HUD shows power of flexible, transparent OLED lighting technology

When designing a vehicle, manufacturers need to ensure drivers can receive essential information without unnecessarily distracting them from the road ahead. At this year’s SID Display Week, Lyteus will demonstrate how flexible OLED technology makes this possible through a revolutionary automotive heads-up display (HUD). Built on a thin plastic substrate, this transparent display can be integrated into the vehicle’s windshield to add driver-friendly functionality without adding weight. Moreover, it can be fully customised during manufacture with segments of any shape and color.

The demonstrator features a transparent, multi-color segmented display based on OLEDs – a novel light source that emit over an entire surface, allowing designers to create completely new lighting and display effects. By producing the OLEDs on a thin plastic substrate, Lyteus has produced what it believes is the first transparent and highly bendable automotive HUD to reach pilot production. The OLED-on-plastic approach also enables a display that is extremely light and thin, and provides complete design freedom.

The HUD demonstrator was produced on the Lyteus pilot line, a pan-European initiative funded via the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Programme. A unique resource for companies looking to explore the potential of flexible OLEDs, the Lyteus pilot line allows manufacturers to start developing new OLED-enhanced products today without waiting for OLED technology to enter mass market. It offers sheet-to-sheet fabrication up to 20 cm x 20 cm, and a 30-cm roll-to-roll line is due to come online later this summer.

“The automotive HUD demonstrator shows how flexible OLED technology can change our lives, in this case potentially making driving safer and more user friendly. The Lyteus line exists to help innovative ideas like this get to market faster in areas such as automotive, aerospace and health. We offer large-scale pilot production of bendable OLEDs in any shape and color, transparent or reflective, and with a uniformity that surpasses any other light source,” says Erno Langendijk, Program Manager at Holst Centre, one of the Lyteus coordinating partners.

The Lyteus automotive HUD demonstrator will be on show within the I-Zone at the Society for Information Display’s (SID’s) Display Week 2018 in Los Angeles, May 22-24.

A roll of light: Rehau participates in EU-funded lighting project

Polymer specialist REHAU and 13 partners are investigating OLED lighting technology, an innovative new lighting technology, which allows for lighting to be uniform, bendable, ultra-thin and transparent. REHAU’s involvement is part of the European programme called Lyteus, which is establishing a pilot line enabling companies of any size to develop concepts related to flexible OLED lighting technology quickly and cost-effectively and to bring products to market maturity. REHAU’s role in the consortium is to validate the pilot line as a launching customer, along with AUDI AG, Pilkington and emde design. The research activities are supported by the European Commission through the Photonics Public-Private Partnership with a total of 14 million Euro.

“In this project, REHAU is venturing into the market of printed electronics. With our know-how in the processing of polymer materials, we are trying to integrate OLED films into edgebands and profiles,” explains Dr.-Ing. Constanze Ranfeld, Corporate Research & Development / Advanced Technologies at REHAU. If the project is successful, these profiles could light up aircraft cabins, for example, as a design highlight. Moreover, the advanced, film-based and therefore flexible OLEDs could be used for numerous other application areas. The polymer specialist can also see possible applications in the automotive sector. REHAU demonstrates the new design freedom, which OLED lighting brings, in its technology carrier Smart Backend. On the rear of the vehicle, the films have been integrated into the lights in a spiral and thus created a unique optical effect. The integration of OLEDs into REHAU products fits perfectly with the strategic direction of REHAU. The aim of the company is continuous development. The polymer specialist invests in innovative technologies, in order to be able to supply high-quality and high-tech products to its customers.

There are however, commercialisation obstacles, which must be overcome before the technology reaches the mass market. Two of which are price intensity and limited availability: “OLEDs could become the lights of the future. Initially, however, technology scale up and commercial price points must be achieved,” Ranfeld emphasises. Lyteus is helping companies such as REHAU to bridge this gap. Integration into windows would also be conceivable. “Panes of glass that are transparent in the daytime and light up the room in the evening are visions for the future, though,” the developer explains.

Polymer specialist REHAU makes sustainable contributions to the ecological and economic challenges of tomorrow. Over 20,000 highly qualified employees all over the world are committed to this. For 70 years, outstanding innovations, the latest production technologies and flexible logistics have made the independent family company a forward-looking and reliable partner with expertise for almost all economic sectors. Focal topics are mobility, energy-efficient construction, digital transformation, future living and water management.

Whether here in the automotive field, in the aviation industry or in the furniture sector: Polymer specialist REHAU can see many possible applications for the OLED technology. (Photo: REHAU)