Speaking with Tom Binder,
Project Lead Light Design at BMW Group, we find out more about the pioneering light design of the BMW Vision Neue Klasse and its basic principles: clarity and expression.
Light makes the BMW brand visible while simultaneously creating an intimate and very human connection. Over the decades, BMW's light design has continuously evolved, from the round pairs of headlights to the iconic LED sidelight rings, always aiming to intensify the relationship between vehicle and driver. Modernized, minimalistic, and yet highly emotional, the characteristic four-eyed face remains present in the BMW Vision Neue Klasse, and is repeated in a new interpretation in the rear lights.
It's about the value of the experience and not about using technology just for the sake of it.
Project Lead Light Design at BMW Group
Depending on the time of day or the season, the location, or the journeys already made during the day, in the future the car will use artificial intelligence and an understanding of user behavior to recognize which scenario is currently appropriate. The spectrum ranges from eye-catching, with light animations and matching sound effects, to gentle and discreetly understated. The designers' art lies in offering the greatest possible individualization options while retaining the characteristic BMW brand elements, such as the kidneys and the four-eyed face.
The awakening scenario is accompanied by its own signature sound and makes for a joyful start to the day.
The various light scenarios of the BMW Vision Neue Klasse are not only able to welcome different drivers individually and indicate that they have recognized whose profile the vehicle should be set to, but also display various information. As an example, one glance at the vehicle immediately shows whether it is currently charging. In addition to the normal functionality that headlights fulfill, this type of communication between human and vehicle, the merging of the physical and the digital, is a completely new function of lighting. The car can signal that it perceives and understands people and their needs. The BMW Vision Neue Klasse is no longer just a machine, but rather a companion and partner.
A reminiscence of the slats of a radiator grille is formed by individually controllable light elements, which enable an impressive 3-dimensional depth.
For BMW, Freude has always come from innovation and ground-breaking ideas. In the recent past, BMW has already revolutionized headlights with laser light and created new possibilities, both technically and aesthetically. BMW's claim to innovation leadership – driven by courage and open-mindedness – is evident in the lighting concept of the BMW Vision Neue Klasse.
The technology behind laser light, in which semiconductor laser diodes in the blue range meet a yellow phosphor reflector to produce a point of light as bright as the sun itself, has been adapted in the BMW Vision Neue Klasse to use light to activate new planar elements through laser wire and phosphor technology. Design elements that appear to be floating are suddenly transformed into sources of light.
A patented approach allows 3D-printed light elements to be distributed on different levels and controlled in a precise sequence.
The BMW Vision Neue Klasse puts its focus on people. Light plays a supporting role with subtle elements, creating unprecedented, exhilarating experiences.
With the introduction of LED technology, the typical cold, white light initially found its way into the vehicle sector as a symbol of modernity. But the lighting designers at BMW have always been interested in using this technology to radiate warmth. The diversity of human needs is particularly evident in the interior of the BMW Vision Neue Klasse, which takes a clear and neutral appearance in driving situations that require a high level of attention and becomes warm and soothing when the journey begins in the morning. Even the light and color mood of the surroundings can be picked up by the vehicle's digital intelligence and reproduced in the interior, creating a feeling of openness and transparency.
Inside the vehicle, light is used, among other things, to respond specifically to the needs of the driver or passengers.
The integration of artificial intelligence and smart technologies is essential in the world of tomorrow. So is the demand for durability, reparability, and ultimately recyclability. LED and laser technology are designed to last a vehicle's lifetime and, thanks to digital advances, can be retrofitted with new lighting functions to keep them up to date for a long time.
Cooperation between the various departments involved in vehicle development at BMW has reached a new level of integration. Vehicle design, lighting design, sound design (➜ Read also: How BMW creates the score for electric driving pleasure); it all happens in tandem. Designers and engineers work together to realize each other's ideas. Technological progress constantly provides new inspiration and encourages us to imagine a future that shines, that puts people at the forefront – a future full of Freude.
Author: Tassilo Hager; Art: Lucas Lemuth, Verena Aichinger; Video: Amos Fricke & Robert Wisniewski