Magna breakthrough lighting turns any body panel into light

Automotive supplier Magna on Thursday unveiled lighting hardware that could be integrated with the car’s body panel. Dubbed Breakthrough Lighting, it will be ready for production in 2023, Magna said in a press release.

Magna is initially showing breakthrough lighting in a thermoplastic liftgate called a “litgate”. However, the same hardware can be applied to other car panels unless they are made from the same thermoplastic material, Magna said.

The display setup contains lighting elements where you can usually find conventional taillights, but they remain hidden until illuminated. Customers can choose from “a wide range of color palettes” for these lights, says Magna.

Breakthrough lighting seems to have been intended at least partly as a design feature. Integrated lighting can be used for decorative purposes, Magna noted. Dedicated lighting elements can create more freedom for non-designers.

Magna further mentions “refinement of communication between the user, the vehicle and its surroundings.” Using external lighting to flash signals to other vehicles and pedestrians has been discussed as a way to improve safety, especially with autonomous vehicles. Instead of using eye contact or hand signals, human drivers may need an alternative way to communicate with other road users of those vehicles.

It was difficult in the past to equate this technology in the United States, but regulatory changes could create an opening. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) approved adaptive matrix LED headlights earlier this year, finally reaching other markets. With fewer restrictions, the new regulations may allow for other new lighting technologies as well.

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