Detective Note

Vol.030 – Lighting for Vechicle


Lighting for Vechicle

Interviewer: Hikaru Kimura




Kimura:Today I`d like to talk about interior lighting for transportation. I really like all forms of transportation, but I especially love to drive cars.

Mr. Mende: Are you the type that takes on a different personality when they drive?
Kimura:No, I`m not a speed demon. I`m the type that tries to lull all the passengers to sleep with my driving. Do you like to drive?

Mr. Mende:I`d rather be a passenger than the driver. I don`t drive a lot now, but if you asked me to, my driving is really careful, on a professional level, as a chauffeur. But when I first got my license as a student, I thought I was the greatest and did some dangerous driving.

Kimura:You had some rebellious days, too!!
However, I`ve always thought of a car as not just a means of transportation, but a moving room. Even though I strongly feel this way, I still have no acceptable answer for car interior lighting.

Mr. Mende:For the driver, interior lighting is virtually unnecessary, except when checking the dials.

Kimura:Maybe so. However, there are two reasons why I chose this topic today. The first reason, I recently was able to drive a bus. Inside the bus, there were chandeliers and wall mounted brackets, all dimmable from the driver`s seat.

Mr. Mende: Regular city buses don`t have dimmable fixtures.

Kimura:No they don`t. I rented a charter bus.
Up until now I never thought it necessary to have a dimmable interior inside a car. However, depending on the time of day and what is going on with the passengers, dimmable lighting can really increase the pleasure of the ride. It surprised me to think that this might be a necessary function inside a vehicle.

The second reason, I sometimes sleep in my car. For this, the lighting is very inconvenient. It is hard to read a book by just a map light, but if you illuminate the entire inside, it is totally visible from outside. I don`t think much has changed in the way of interior lighting for a car. There are some cars with overhead indirect lighting or twinkling star lights, but this isn`t functional lighting, just a way to differentiate your car and add personality. You have lots of opportunities to ride the bullet train or to fly, what do you think about the lighting?

Mr. Mende:When I am flying, I feel like I can get so much more work done then when on the ground.

Kimura:Is this because of the lighting?

Mr. Mende:That might be. Also, by leaving the ground I feel like it is a country-free zone, free of stereotypes, and I am really able to think outside the box.

Kimura:That`s an interesting sensation. It doesn`t fly, but how about the bullet train?

Mr. Mende:Yes, I like the bullet train, too. It`s not flying, but time is still different while in motion. It is 4 hours to Hong Kong, 7 hours to Singapore, and 2.5 hours to Osaka. Nobody is bothering me and I can really concentrate during this time.

Now, about the lighting, on night flights the cabin gradually gets dimmer and dimmer. Sometimes I`m reading a book next to someone who is sleeping, so the light transitions from soft ambience to a personal downlight for just your space. In business class, there is also a personal task light, which is very convenient.

Kimura:Certainly. Trains normally don`t run at night so the frame of mind towards lighting might be different. Recently, there are planes with color lighting. I not real fond of this idea, though.

Mr. Mende:Lately, houseboats in the Tokyo Bay, have quit experimenting with colorful lighting. However, cars, planes, etc. almost any form of transportation, after all lighting ideas are explored, the final question always ends up being, “What color of lighting should we use?” Years ago, the Lighting Detectives christened a new name for cars, trains, boats, planes, etc. “Moving Boxes of Decorative Light.” Decorative lighting to assert one`s identity even became popular among big semi-trucks!

Kimura:“Moving Boxes of Decorative Light.” Even in this modern age, with hybrid cars, electric cars, and environmentally-friendly movements, on the contrary, “Moving Boxes of Decorative Light” don`t seem to be decreasing.

Mr. Mende:Cars do not rely on electric companies but are self-contained vehicles. This is different from architectural lighting because the lighting needs to withstand harsh conditions, like high temperatures and strong impacts. Research has really advanced the 12V and 24V fixtures.


Mr. Mende:However, for the driver any additional interior lights are just a nuisance. But for passengers, if they what to do anything at all during the trip, lighting is a necessity. Especially, the bullet train or airplanes, most aboard are just passengers and while in motion, they eat, sleep, or work. Hard to do these things in the dark and watching the scenery pass by grows old. Therefore, for each mode of transportation a comfortable environment is necessary.

Kimura:It might be possible to divide transportation into two lines of thought: 1: lighting for drivers and 2: lighting to create a comfortable experience while in motion.

Mr. Mende:In the future, cars could all be all automated driving, eliminating the need for a driver in a moving environment. Car interior lighting then might elevate to something similar to residential lighting.

Kimura:In the future, if cars took to flying, you might be able to work anywhere, anytime! I might not be of use as a driver any more, but leave it to me to design interior lighting for a comfortable nap while in motion.