Can you still remember the darkness of the last millennium? Back then, the only interior light in a vehicle was a small glimmer above the rear view mirror which tentatively started glowing when the door was opened. Things were pretty dull in terms of ambient lighting and other lights back then. Admittedly, there were times when the lack of lighting wasn’t a problem, but that’s not the point. After all, at csi we ultimately want to shed light on the darkness – with this article too.
At the speed of light. Developing the future.
As any expert will tell you: lighting will always be of the essence. Firstly, it affects the customisation of vehicles: even today distinctive light signatures and styles already differentiate different models and accentuate their characters. And anyone who wants even more personalisation can configure the vehicle lighting, as well as the exterior and interior lighting, to their personal taste. However, up to now the choice has been relatively limited. A light strip here, a dimmer there and an extra highlight somewhere else – that’s essentially it. Until now. Alongside infotainment, lighting is set to assume an important role in the vehicle interiors of the future. It is set to make "waiting times", whether during charging or being driven around, as pleasant as possible for the vehicle driver and passengers..
A light says more than a thousand words.
Light is designed to, and indeed does, create a good atmosphere and a sense of well-being. Used correctly, lighting can be very entertaining in two respects: holograms and simulations can be played to pass the time and entertain the passengers in the vehicle. Lighting can also be used as a central communication tool. No, not by flashing the headlights, but by using signals to flag up hazardous situations in our environment, such as black ice or obstacles in the driving lane. Or by using special lighting to indicate that we are driving in autonomous mode.
What if we could warn a cyclist that the car door of the parked car in front of them was about to open? And at the same time warn the driver of the vehicle with a signal in the door trim that a cyclist is approaching from the rear? All this is feasible – and at csi it is already in the realisation phase. After all, we want to do more than just talk about exciting issues, such as these. Our most recent projects are already sending pioneering light signals into the future.
Pioneering: Our collaborative lighthouse project.
We developed this innovative project in collaboration with our partners who, just like us, prefer to take matters into their own hands. Something they are highly capable of doing. Working with Heilbronn-based XtraDynamics UG, Münsingen-based Eissmann Individual GmbH, Rutesheim-based JOYSONQUIN Automotive Systems GmbH, Sage Automotive Interiors and Taracell AG from the Swiss town of Künten, we are jointly opening a door to a new world of driving and being driven. We, that is the csi project team, which includes three Bachelor degree students and an intern, alongside the old hands, considered which components we could sensibly achieve this with to kick off the project. As developers, we always like to think years ahead and assume that the dash panel and central console will disappear from vehicles in future. But to keep the vehicle occupants safe, there will certainly need to be some kind of doors in future. So, the decision was made.
On the light side of power.
Door trims are ideal for demonstrating how functionality, design and sustainability can be perfectly combined with innovative concepts. This is despite or indeed precisely because of the complex structure that needs to be considered by aligning the most varied materials, safety requirements and surfaces. The cradle-to-cradle principle, that is the requirement that all components of a product can be recycled or reused in a consistent quality, was a core guiding principle in the development and a factor in component selection. The C2C aspect is also one of the reasons why, in our project team, we firmly believe in the return of – no, not the Jedi Knights – but electroluminescence (EL). That’s because this comparatively old technology provides us with the freedom to rethink things sustainably. We want to demonstrate that electroluminescence and ultra-modern EL films conceal a design-based and informative power that we have scarcely tapped into to date.
The joy of 360-degree light.
When you know how to, you can achieve homogenous, non-glaring light effects with EL – and even on surfaces we wouldn’t have dared to think about until now. The light film specialists XtraDynamics and the trim and interior experts Eissmann Individual were the perfect partners to help us bring our lighting models and designs to life. And, thanks to JOYSONQUIN Automotive Systems and Taracell, they don’t just look impressive, but also have a wonderful feel to them. That’s because the ultra-modern EL films can be integrated into the surfaces of wood or textiles and combined with 100% recyclable lightweight construction materials, such as EEP foams and "vegan" materials. Naturally without compromising in terms of function or durability. Even if all you need to do is position your hand near the switch to activate it, thanks to capacitive sensors, it doesn’t matter if you accidentally activate the door trim with your elbows. The EL and our Smart Surfaces can easily withstand it. Certainly more easily than a cyclist who needs to be prepared for vehicle doors unexpectedly opening.
That’s why we hope that our light signals will be understood and that our door trim will inspire our customers to join us in developing complete vehicle interiors that will almost be too good to just travel from A to B in them. At the same time, we will be helping to make mobility more comfortable, entertaining and safer for all road users. Sounds enticing, right?
csi entwicklungstechnik | Neckarsulm | Cluster Interior Project Manager