Moving beyond the latest strain of LED-based headlights, BMW has announced that it has begun developing an even more advanced form of illumination that it plans to introduce in its future production models before the end of the decade. This next-gen innovation will be based on laser diodes, nifty little alternatives that are lighter, brighter, more energy-efficient and even more compact than today's LEDs.
While these laser diodes are capable of producing a stunningly intense beam of coherently focused pure white light -- on the order of a thousand times greater than an LED -- BMW is quick to note that the beam is not directly emitted but processed internally using various reflectors to render it harmless to people, animals or anything else that may turn up in its path. That operational efficiency translates into lower energy requirements -- and correspondingly better fuel economy. These laser diodes also are about 100 times smaller than an LED, which opens the door to completely new and more flexible packaging solutions.
Finally, in addition to turning out about 1.7 times the amount of absolute light per watt of an LED, BMW says the laser diode alternative is fully-capable of being integrated into all of its advanced lighting technologies, including Adaptive Headlights, the "Dynamic Light Spot" spotlighting system and "Anti-Dazzle High-Beam Assist."