If you’ve been paying attention to automotive lighting trends like I’m sure you have, I suspect you’ll agree that we seem to be on the cusp of another automotive lighting revolution. Luckily, this revolution looks to be a fun one, as it’s about blocky, dynamic displays in vehicle lights that remind me of old 8-bit graphics. It seems that one of the first cars to employ such lighting may be the upcoming 2021 Audi A3 and RS 3, as we can see in some leaked slides.
While we’ve gotten a glimpse at the 2021 A3's light units before, I think this is the first time we’ve seen confirmation that the little 3x5 matrix of pixel-lights will be able to display multiple patterns.
The evidence for this comes from some leaked images of slides provided to us by our pals at Periodismodel Motor, a Madrid-based website. The slides were from a presentation about the upcoming A3, and included this slide:
While We’ve seen this sort of thing on concept cars before, for example in most of Volkswagen’s electric ID concept cars like the ID Buzz, I don’t believe any car has yet come to market with actual, controllable LED matrix display-type lamps.
In Audi’s case, it looks like the matrix area can display six different patterns based on the model; the “Base” level one I don’t think is the same matrix display hardware.
The RS 3 checkered flag is fun application of these lights, which I suspect will operate as DRLs, in a legal context. The slide suggests that they’re fixed by model type, which I think is a shame. Since it’s just software, it would be more fun if the patterns shown were dynamic and would change based on driver preferences or actions.
Going into “sport” mode on any of these should kick it into checkered flags, for example. Hazard lights could make little !s appear, and look, you could even make a little dude, for some reason:
There’s some fun design potential here, and I’m curious to see how far this gets pushed. With greater resolutions could come more complex display graphics, opening up whole new design possibilities, for both good and evil.
I’m optimistic, though; this should be fun. Legal issues may prevent animations or anything too complex, so that’ll be interesting to see how it plays out as well, especially in America, which has always had fairly restrictive lighting regulations.
Hackers, please note: 3x5 is just enough for a full alphanumeric character set, in case you want to send messages, one letter at a time!