Vehicle interiors typically use soft-touch or cast skin surfaces that provide cushion and deflection to contact. Vehicle interior illumination is typically provided by assemblies inserted into, these soft-surfaces. The illuminating light source is typically visible. In some vehicles, illumination is intentionally indirect, and the lighting assemblies are located such that other components conceal the illumination source from the vehicle occupants, and the visible light is directed onto a specific surface the effect of which is merely visible light that does not create stylized graphics or patterns that fill an area. A door panel or other interior surface that can provide light would be different and an improvement over prior art illumination devices and methods.
Put simply, this disclosure describes a door panel that has smart illumination effects with no visible lighting assemblies. One embodiment is a door panel that appears conventional and which uses several soft-touch surfaces. Unlike typical soft-touch areas, the soft-touch surfaces can be illuminated themselves for providing illumination that can be used to support existing advanced driver assist system (ADAS) features, such as blind spot monitoring, in which portions of the door panel are illuminated when a vehicle is present in the blind spot. The soft-touch surface illumination also supports proposed ADAS features, such as a HALO system, which uses an LED to provide perimeter lighting near a window line to help direct other-vehicle driver attention. The soft-touch surface illumination can also provide a safety indication, especially for low light or night conditions. While a door is open, an area of the soft-touch surface illumination panel can be illuminated to be visible to those outside the vehicle, such as occupants in other vehicles. The soft-touch surface illumination can also provide a means to improve visibility inside the vehicle when the door is closed as part of a welcome sequence.
Referring now to
The skin 502 covers a substrate 504, which defines the surface shape of the panel 100 best seen in
The substrate 504 is either molded from a completely clear material, a semi-transparent or translucent material or it is molded in a way that at least portions of the substrate are selectively transparent or perhaps perforated to allow light to pass through to the skin 502.
As used herein, the term “pattern” means an artistic or graphic design or form. The substrate 504 could also include perforations that form a pattern of that appear through or modify the appearance of the illumination from the light sources through the skin 502.
An array of light emitting diodes or incandescent lamps 506 below and attached to the substrate 504 are powered by a controller 508, which is preferably powered by the vehicle. The light emitting diodes/incandescent lamps 506 can be either monochromatic or polychromatic as a design choice in order to provide illumination the color of which can be uniform or multiple colors. The illumination can be an area fill, or a specialized pattern. Patterns can be static or animated by the control of individual light elements or the output of a display.
The foregoing description is for purposes of illustration. The true scope of the invention is set forth in the following claims