The race is always on among automakers to deliver new technology that will put them ahead of the pack. While much of the work done by engineers focuses on power-trains and fuel efficiency, they also keep an eye on aesthetics. Let's face it, we all want our cars to look great and be noticed on the street, and headlights are a fantastic way to make that happen. Check in your rearview mirror while you are on the road at night, and now you are likely to see all kinds of different head-lamps twinkling back at you, from projector headlights to halo lights that come in a variety of different colors.
In fact, if you take a trip into your local automotive parts store, you will see that the custom headlights section is growing at a rather rapid rate. As crazy as the US is about its cars, the fact of the matter is that they are at the back of the pack when it comes to headlight technology. This isn't because the Europeans are delivering brighter and better products, it's because the regulations concerning the use of headlights, and what type can be used is pretty restrictive in the United States.

The times they are a changing, though, and auto lighting in this part of the world is becoming a little less tightly regulated. Among the more commonly used auto lamps on the market now are High Intensity Discharge (HID) lights, which are essentially lit by an arc instead of a filament. Automakers looking to make a bit of a splash, usually on higher end models, are now going with LED lights for cars. They are not the brightest on the market, but their flexibility of design and low power usage make them popular, although the cost to manufacture them is high, which is why luxury cars are usually where they end up. BMW says that their cars will feature laser lights in the future, although don't expect a James Bond style light that will enable you to cut through walls and other solid objects. What they will be is bright and incredibly precise.
Custom headlights now include projector lights and the ability of the lights to follow the curves of the road. This idea got its start back in the 80's, when sealed beam headlights were the first to take beam shaping into account. They were not the most effective lights ever made, but they did, pardon the pun, shape the way for future technologies like projection lighting. The future of that technology is expected to be unveiled by Audi, with their Matrix Lighting, using LED lights that will eliminate the need for separate low and high beam settings. Those lights may not be seen stateside for a while, due to those pesky regulations that deem vehicles must have distinct low and high beam settings.

One thing that is certain about the future of auto headlights is that it will be beyond the scope of the average modification enthusiast.
To read more about LED lights for cars and their history in the automotive industry, click here.

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