Cars With Fricken Laser Beams

Ok, so maybe not quite.

However, this is still neat: The BMW Group has been developing laser headlights for vehicles. With intensity a thousand times, a fuel consumption at less than half even their current LEDs, and a size one hundred times smaller, the desire to develop this technology is quite self-explanatory.

This opens up all sorts of new possibilities when integrating the light source into the vehicle. The BMW engineers have no plans to radically reduce the size of the headlights however, although that would be theoretically possible. Instead, the thinking is that the headlights would retain their conventional surface area dimensions and so continue to play an important role in the styling of a BMW, while the size advantages could be used to reduce the depth of the headlight unit, and so open up new possibilities for headlight positioning and body styling.

The laser diodes used originally emit blue, but through interacting with a fluorescent phosphor is converted to a “pure white light.” BMW highlights the safety of the lasers for all road users profusely in their press release. The laser headlight technology would be compatible with BMW’s LED “Dynamic Light Spot” which is an intelligent, targeted illumination of obstacles.

Further knowledge: For design geeks, the film Objectified is a fantastic documentary, in which Chris Bangle of the BMW group speaks on industrial design. As if that’s not enough, Apple’s stud muffin Sir Jonathan Ive talks about robust aluminium.


A Custom-Built Tron Lightcycle – for only $35,000

Okay, if you’re in your 30s, there’s a chance that you’re like me – a huge fan of the old movie Tron.  There’s lots of merchandise out there, especially lately with the release of the Tron Legacy movie.  Have you seen this latest piece of merchandise?

Yeah.  Now that is absolutely beautiful.  A company called Parker Brothers Choppers in Melbourne, FL just sold some of these on eBay.  As I checked the listing for this bike, which is now over, I noticed that they got a pretty $35,000 for their design!

Hey, the thing is beautiful, that’s or sure. I’m addicted to driving fast, so I give myself a lifespan of about two weeks on that bike.

Thanks, Inhabitat!

Does This LED Middle Finger Count as Road Rage?

I get a metric ton of emails from LED manufacturing companies located all over the world.  You know the ones – if you’ve ever done a search on Google for “lighting” or entered your email address into a subscription list, you’ve probably gotten spammed with something like this:

Dear Sir:

It has been long time for communication with you.  at the beginning of 2010, we have launched some new led bulb and lightings.

You can visit our website to download our 2010 catalogue, [website address redacted]

If you want to download, please contact me to get the account to download the files.

[name redacted]
Dreamy Lighting Co., LTD

Normally these come with some kind of PDF full of blatant copies of good brands like Martin’s Mac 2000, along with LED striplights, wall washers, and other inexpensive LED lighting.  It’s been this way with manufacturers in this area for many years – when white LED manufacturing made its debut, companies bombarded the world with cheap quality and cost white LED products.  When CFLs got huge, same thing.

Sometimes the products (and English translations) are absolutely ridiculous, and sometimes it is overwhelmingly hilarious.  I just got one from a company (that I shall not name because they CONSTANTLY SPAM ME) that had a pretty funny product being advertised – an LED sign for the inside of your car that sends visual messages to the car behind you, up to and including the middle finger.  Meet the “CAR Emotion Light”:

What a phenomenally hilarious idea.  Note the middle finger  icon that you can display in gleaming red LED light for your already late for dinner angry road raging Hummer driver you just cut off.

Epic win.

Audi’s A1 LED Headlight Designer and His Baby

You know, it’s hard to listen to this guy, André Georgi, and not think “dude, you have a lot of passion for what you’re doing!”  I can personally say that I have never considered that a person had this much passion for designing an automobile’s headlight cluster.  Then I realize that if everything had this kind of passion put into it, things might be a lot better off.

Check out this video – well worth your time:

How Halogen Headlight Lamps are Made

You know the little pain in the rear car headlight lamps that you have to scrape up your knuckles to install?  The ones with the black block coating on the top?


What, no one else changes their own car headlamps?  What, no one else owns a Mazda Protege?

Check out this video – how these little knuckle scrapers are made!

Laser Spark Plugs?


American automobile company Ford and the University of Liverpool are about to breathe some new life into Nikola Tesla’s spark plug, which was invented in 1898.  The plan is to use lasers to replace the spark plug technology, which has been rockin’ like Dokken since way before my parents were born.  The laser mechanism will apparently improve ignition conditions when the vehicle is started in the cold, or in damp conditions.  From the article at the Telegraph:

“Lasers can be focused and split into multiple beams to give multiple ignition points, which means it can give a far better chance of ignition.

“This can really improve the performance of the engine when it is cold, as this is the time when around 80 per cent of the exhaust emissions are produced and the engine is at is least efficient.

“The laser also produces more stable combustion so you need to put less fuel into the cylinder.”

In current engines spark plugs are positioned at the top or bottom of a cylinder and they can often fail to ignite fuel effectively if the petrol is not in the right position in the cylinder.

In the new system the spark plug is replaced by a laser powered by the car battery which is sent along thin optical fibres into the engine’s cylinders where lenses focus the beam into an intense pinprick of light.

When fuel is injected into the engine, the laser is fired, producing enough heat to ignite the fuel and power the engine.

The researchers claim that the laser, which will need to fire more than 50 times per second to produce 3000 RPM, will require less power than traditional spark plugs.

Some of the laser can be reflected back from inside the cylinder to provide information for the car on the type of fuel being used and the level of ignition, allowing the car to adjust the quantities of air and fuel automatically to optimise the performance.

This raises the prospect of mixed fuel cars which can run on a number of different biofuels while ensuring they still run efficiently.

A spokesman for Ford said: “Ford, like all vehicle manufacturers, is obliged by European legislation to reduce emissions and our work in this area is led by Ford’s UK R&D centre in Essex.

I didn’t expect to read that today! That’s a pretty interesting innovation – you have to ask yourself what other ideas like this we’ll find the laser participating in to make better.

What? Kia Has Glowing Red Speakers In Their Cars


I just read an article saying that the Kia Soul has red glowing speakers inside that can pulse and ebb with music or on their own, not unlike that of a MacBook.  I’m not a fan of this, I’m sorry Kia.  It’s cool and all, and red is better than other colors that could have been chosen for repetitive pulsing in the dark – but I think the last thing that people need is yet another distraction in their car while they’re on their cell phones and text messaging when they should be paying attention to not killing the people in front of them.

That might have been a rant.  Still, not my favorite idea.  Your thoughts?

Thanks, GadgetReview.