The second-generation of digital OLED technology
A brief overview of digital OLED technology 1.0: In 2016, Audi introduced a new lighting technology to the automotive industry in the TT RS. It was the first time organic LEDs (OLEDs for short) were used for rear lights. OLED elements are semiconductor-based surface light sources that generate light with perfect homogeneity and high contrast values. Their brightness is also adjustable. In addition, the shape of OLED lights can be configured freely and divided precisely into switchable segments. Dynamic lighting scenarios in the OLED rear lights also debuted in the Audi TT RS.
In 2020, Audi Q5 customers could select an individual rear light signature for the first time thanks to the digital OLED rear lights. With this accomplishment, Audi became the first automotive manufacturer to modify the rear light signature digitally. The shift was based on OLEDs’ core properties: high contrast, segmentation into switchable zones, high light homogeneity, and the ability to arrange the segments very tightly. Audi remains the only car manufacturer to offer this evolution of technology.
In 2022 this option became standard in the Audi A8 with digital OLED rear lights. The car’s bus system allowed its software to control each rear light panel and each OLED segment individually. In the A8, customers could select from three rear light signatures via the MMI; in the S8, they could choose from four.
“Audi recognized the potential of using OLED technology in rear lights early on and has since continued to systematically advance their development and digitalization as the only car manufacturer to do so. As a result, we can now offer our customers an ever-new range of lighting functions,” explains Stephan Berlitz, Head of Lighting Development, demonstrating a clear strategy behind the use of this technology. “Digital OLEDs are more efficient, lighter, and more homogeneous than traditional lighting systems,” Berlitz continues, offering a glimpse of the future: “Due to their strong contrast, they are gradually turning into exterior displays, making them an important enabler of communication with the car’s surroundings. With the proximity indication function, we have been using light to interact with other road users since 2020. The Audi Q6 e-tron now adds the communication light to improve road safety further.”