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Digital LED Suits Future Automotive Applications

09 November 2016

Digital LED for automotive applications developed under ISELED. Source: Dominant Opto Technologies  Digital LED for automotive applications developed under ISELED. Source: Dominant Opto Technologies Inova Semiconductors has unveiled a new digital light-emitting diode (LED) concept for automotive applications with the first LED product to be available from Dominant Opto Technologies in the first quarter of 2017. This will be the first product developed under the umbrella of ISELED, an open alliance formed to provide a full ecosystem for the new digital LED right from its very inception.

The mission of the ISELED Alliance is to create LED-related products and solutions for the automotive market. These solutions are to be based on an entirely new in-car LED lighting concept that drives down costs, simplifies control, and expands the functionality of LED lighting and display solutions.

This upcoming generation of in-car lighting will typically consist of 10 to 30 LEDs mounted on a flexible strip. Each group of one red, green and blue LED will form a "pixel," which at 24-bit resolution (3 × 8-bit) can be set to more than 16 million colors.

At the present time, in order to individually control LEDs, a microcontroller containing LED-specific data is needed for each individual RGB LED. Hence, such a solution is typically too cumbersome and expensive to be viable. Also it is not feasible to capture individual LED life parameters such as functionality and temperature.

Now the vanguard ISELED concept is set to change the automotive LED paradigm by creating an amazingly compact smart LED driver that is directly integrated with three color LEDs into a tiny 3 mm × 4 mm package.

Leveraging the experience it gained during the development of its APIX communications standard, Inova has built a high-speed communications protocol that allows every LED to be individually addressed. By supporting data rates up to an impressive 2 Mbit/s, the protocol enables blisteringly fast, dynamic lighting effects.

The smart LED driver from Inova provides sophisticated calibration features, ensuring every LED will render the same color and brightness over the full temperature range, thereby guaranteeing automotive-level illumination consistency, even accepting greater LED manufacturing tolerances than are currently attainable. A single microcontroller can now manage an LED strip containing 4,096 LEDs.

The first solution consists of a driver from Inova with a bidirectional serial interface and daisy-chain capability integrated by Dominant Opto Technologies into a single compact package with three LEDs (red, green and blue). The package will come with pre-calibration of the required white point from the factory.

The driver includes three constant current mode (CCM) drivers to control the red, green and blue (RGB) LEDs. The color of each RGB LED "trio" can be set with 24-bit resolution (3 × 8 bit). For temperature and manufacturing tolerance compensation, the brightness of each individual LED can be controlled with 12-bit resolution.

The extremely low thermal resistance of the housing, which is reportedly 30% lower than in comparable products, reduces the power consumption of the LED by delivering better light efficiency with cooler LEDs.

A built-in temperature sensor ensures accuracy, while the calibration values of the CCM LED drivers and temperature compensation parameters are securely stored in non-volatile memory, an indispensable prerequisite for safety-related applications.

Samples of the first engineering prototype, an advanced multicolor smart LED driver, will be available the first quarter of 2017.

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