SWARCO awarded patent for Optical System for LED Variable Message Signs:

Low-energy, high performance solution changes the game in road signage

For safe journeys along highways, through tunnels and across busy cities, drivers must be able to see quickly and clearly what is expected of them. For years, SWARCO has been developing best-in-class solutions for road signs that contribute to journey safety and convenience in a sustainable way. We continuously test and patent our solutions, so that clients can easily recognize our products – and know they are getting the best option on the market. Our most recent patent was awarded to us for the unique SWARCO Optical System for LED Variable Message Signs.

When the first LEDs were introduced in the transport sector more than 20 years ago, SWARCO started developing its own high-performance optical system for LED Variable Message Signs (VMS). This technology would prove to be a market game changer. It consists of a special lens that guides the light to where it needs to go: to the driver on the road. By concentrating the beam, no light is ‘wasted’ to the sides and upwards, and we can reduce the required current by up to 95% – a remarkable decrease in the amount of energy used.

Less wattage than a hairdryer

Using our solution for VMS yields exciting results in terms of energy saving. For example, a display area measuring 4,500 mm by 6,100 mm with almost 200,000 of full color LEDs runs on less watts than a hairdryer, meaning our signs have the brightness required by international regulations with best-in-class energy performance.

Vibrant, multicolored images

Another key feature of the optical system is its ability to perfectly mix the LED light colors red, green and blue (RGB). This allows variable message signs to display vibrant, multicolored images with no shift in the colors, no matter what angle the driver sees it from.

What is also important is that this color mixing convergent optical system is now a patent of SWARCO. The first patent was filed in 2010 and granted in 2016 in the US, followed by patents in Austria and in Russia. The Austrian patent was contested by a large competitor, but we successfully defended it and won in 2020 – a feat we are very proud of. In 2021, we were granted the Brazilian patent. Our solution was also recognized as a ‘novelty’ by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) and the long-awaited European patent came in 2022.

Unrivalled performance  

Gaining intellectual property rights for this technology was very important to us. The solution is a game changer, which we spent over 10 years developing, and we firmly believe it is the best out there. When customers use SWARCO solutions, we want them to rest assured that they are getting an original, with unrivalled performance and benefits.

But the Optical System is about more than cutting-edge technology: it also perfectly embodies SWARCO’s values, safety and sustainability. SWARCO variable message signs can be found on every continent. Delivering signage with the highest optical performance in the most energy-efficient way is our contribution to establishing more sustainable traffic management around the world.