ANN ARBOR, MI – Subtle interior lighting that soothes, changes color and even pulsates to music is becoming common in vehicle cabins.
Federal-Mogul’s interior lighting unit now is trying to take the ambient lighting concept to the next level, showing off a variety of advanced technologies and designs that allow lighting to become a key part of a vehicle’s personality and brand character.
Ramzi Hermiz, senior vice president-vehicle safety and protection, says Federal-Mogul likely is best known in the auto industry as a supplier of powertrain parts such as pistons, but it also is pursuing the global auto interior lighting market, which it expects to grow from $611 million this year to $766 million in 2015.
Demand for premium lighting features that enable personalization and enhance vehicle differentiation has grown dramatically in recent years, Hermiz says.
And just as great engines create passion and enthusiasm for vehicles, Federal-Mogul is looking at how lighting can create positive emotions among consumers, Hermiz says.
Among the ideas recently demonstrated at its technical center here: map lights that can be turned on and off with the wave of a hand using a capacitive proximity sensor.
Besides being an interesting feature that will surprise and delight consumers, Federal-Mogul engineers say that with no moving parts to wear out, touch-free light switches offer better durability, eliminate the design constraints of mechanical switches and can reduce driver distraction.
Interior lights and trim strips that have a chrome finish in daylight and then transmit colored light at night for an entirely different effect also are demonstrated, along with a sophisticated concept for ambient lighting that allows designers to create precise design effects throughout the interior using interconnected networks of red, green and blue color-controlled light-emitting diodes.
The so-called LIN LED-RGB controlled lighting creates homogeneous light output on all ambient lighting elements and also allows auto makers to adjust the output intensity for different colors and finishes, says Linda Rivers Bell, director-engineering and research and development, global lighting products.
Colored lighting can fill the entire vehicle or specific areas to create brand identification, a feeling of safety and security or other targeted emotional responses, Bell says.
Having ambient lighting completely uniform in color and intensity throughout the vehicle lends a high-quality look to the interior, she says.
Federal-Mogul officials also tout the supplier’s design simulation and optics capabilities. For instance, the company recently developed an ultrathin lamp lens. Combined with an LED light source, it reduces the profile of bulky overhead lamp systems up to 60%.
Headroom is becoming an increasingly important commodity as a growing number of vehicles are being developed with higher seating positions and lower rooflines, Hermiz says.
“With interior lamp profiles typically 30 mm (1.2 ins.) or more, the size of interior lighting modules has been a limiting factor for vehicle manufacturers. Our new lamp is just 12 mm (0.5 in.) thick, giving vehicle designers an extra 18 mm (0.7 in.) of space,” he says.