How Laser-powered Headlights Work

Safety of Laser-powered Headlights

Lasers have without a doubt enabled many modern conveniences. They allow us to check out faster at retail stores. They let us pack impressive amounts of information on a thin plastic disk, then retrieve it -- in the form of an album or full-length movie. We can even use them to enhance our bodies, with skin treatments, laser-assisted eye surgery and many other medical procedures.

But one thing almost everyone knows is that, just as you would with the sun -- you never look directly into the source of a laser beam. Its parallel beams focus so tightly, they can act like a scalpel on your retina -- indeed, lasers are used as precision medical instruments, among their many applications.

That said, BMW maintains that there's no way to blind yourself by looking into one of its laser headlights. Because of the way the beam energy is directed, then reflected, then ultimately displayed out of the headlight housing, you can't accidentally injure your eyes, according to BMW.

So if you did happen to own a BMW with these lights installed, you wouldn't have to worry about hitting an animal or pedestrian because its eyeballs were seared by your headlights.

And what about to our other safety point? The worry about slicing through people or objects with an errant beam if the headlight housing is compromised -- be it by car accident, light getting out of alignment or what-have-you?

BMW says that power gets cut to the lasers if any damage occurs.

Now that you know how laser-powered headlights function -- and that they won't melt your face like you're a bad guy in "Raiders of the Lost Ark" -- perhaps you're wondering how and when you can own a set. For the answer, click to the next page.