MOOD LIGHTING

A Q&A with Arun Kumar, design engineer and optics expert, on how Ford is brightening up your commute.

By Rod O'Connor

MF: Can headlamps impact a driver’s state of mind?
AK: Well, we know that homogeneity in lighting can affect how a person feels. For example, new LED lights that show greater contrast can improve task performance even at reduced intensity when compared with halogen lights. Spotty road illumination can agitate a driver due to the involuntary eye movement needed to resolve contrast differences.

MF: So we are distracted by inconsistencies in light?
AK: Yes—when you look at a painting, your eyes focus on the contrast in color and intensity. The same is true with lighting.

MF: How do Ford’s Crystal Diamond Lights help make us feel better?
AK: These new LED headlamps [which debuted on the 2015 Ford F-150 and are migrating to other models] are more homogeneous. This helps reduce eye tiredness while lessening agitation. Without the contrast issues, you can focus on what’s in front of you instead of getting lost in the details of the beam itself.

MF: Can this affect fuel savings?
AK: Yes. Our first-generation Crystal Diamond Lights are 20–25% more efficient than traditional halogen lights. They use less wattage to produce the same amount of light. And the fixtures are smaller, which requires less cooling and leads to energy savings. Spread across a million cars, we estimate these lights can save 1.5 million gallons of fuel.

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MF: How does physiology come into play when Ford selects its lighting?
AK: In the 1990s, as Ford was replacing its green dashboard lighting, the goal was to choose a color that would be pleasing to the eye and provide a good contrast. But men and women see colors differently, so the team had to select shades that were universally accepted by the color cones of both sexes. A deep saturated red or green wasn’t suitable, because 8% of the population has color deficiencies.

MF: What are the benefits of Ford’s Ice Blue dash lighting?
AK: It is perceived as brighter, shows greater contrast and improves alertness.

Arun Kumar has an MBA in corporate strategy and finance from the University of Michigan and a Master of Science in mechanical engineering from Arizona State University. He has been with Ford Motor Company since 2006.
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