2017 SID Vehicle Displays Exhibition

The exhibition at the 2017 Vehicle Displays and Interfaces Sympsium, held Sept. 26 and 27, 2017 in Livonia, Michigan, consisted of 73 tabletops, up from 61 last year. Given the growth of symposium, the high quality of the speakers, and the enthusiasm surrounding the event (Fig. 1), the organizers are discussing adding 10 x 10 booths the exhibition for next year.

Fig. 1Fig. 1 Engagement was high and sometimes intense in the exhibition area. (Photo: Ken Werner)

Here’s a sample of what was on the show floor.

Lightspeed‘s Barton Jenson was showing the company’s after-market combiner HUD (Fig. 2). The projector produces 50k cd/m², which becomes 7k cd/m² by the time it reflects off the combiner and gets to the driver. Sun on snow is about 34k cd/m², so, Jenson said, they would like to have about 15k cd/m² for easy viewing in that environment. The combiner comes with a combiner film that adheres to the windshield and the removable combiner screen shown in the photo. The majority of customers use the windshield film, said Jenson.

Fig. 2. Lightspeed combiner HUDFig. 2. Lightspeed’s aftermarket HUD can be controlled with a cell phone. (Photo: Ken Werner)

Kyocera showed the Gentex Full Display Mirror, which uses Kyocera’s 7.7″ a-Si LCD with 1200:1 contrast ratio, 1280×275 pixels, and a viewing angle of ±85° (V and H) (Fig. 3). The company also showed a 12.3″ curved, glasses-free (or zone type) 3D instrument cluster display with eyetracking and facial recognition. The display is a second-generation prototype. Kyocera also showed LCDs ranging from 1.12″ to 2.6″ for HUDs. Contrast for all types shown was 1200:1 and color gamut was 45% NTSC. The HUDs, a rep said, have shipped in the thousands and are in at least one commercially available automobile.

Fig. 3. Kyocera display in Gentex Full Display MirrorFig. 3. Kyocera’s wide-aspect-ratio display is used in the “Full Display Mirror” made be Gentex. (Photo: Ken Werner)

GE was there, describing its Radiant Red on-chip LED phosphor. A GE representative reminded me that 18 LED makers are licensed to use Radiant Red. The company was at the show to introduce Radiant Red to the automotive industry and to explore the industry’s interest.

Among the many displays shown by Varitronix/BOE was 5.5″ flexible AMOLED 2560 x 1440 pixels, a luminance of 350 cd/m², and a very high contrast ratio, as is typical of OLEDs (Fig. 4). Kenneth Sung said the radius of curvature is 5mm (Fig. 5). Sung said that the smartphone OLEDs BOE is making now are glass, but, added Kenny Kwok, an OLED display for phones will be ready by the end of this year. Flexible OLEDs for vehicular use will sample in 2019 and will be ready for volume production in 2020.

Fig. 4Fig. 4 Varitronix/BOE’s flexible OLED display. (Photo: Ken Werner)

Fig. 5Fig. 5 The flexible OLED can bend to a radius of 5mm. (Photo: Ken Werner)

Also on display was a 10.1″ “Naked Eye 3D” normally black LCD display (Fig. 6). Native resolution is 3840 x 2160: CR is 1500:1, and luminace is 400 cd/m². This is a very effective 3D display, with very smooth images, no obvious sweet or sour spots, and a convincing negative-z 3D image. Starting out with 438 ppi does wonders for an autostereoscopic display.

Fig. 6Fig. 6 Also in the BOE booth was this very effective “naked eye” (autostereoscopic) prototype. (Photo: Ken Werner)

Neonode (Stockholm) was showing its laser-diode touch light bars that combine the transmittinig IR laser diodes and the sensors in a single flexible strip (Fig. 7). This makes integration far simpler than the traditional approach of incorporating LEDs within one or two sides of thick bezel and putting the sensors opposite them. In fact, Neonode has created an aftermarket consumer product called AirBar that is installed by simply positioning it on the bottom edge of a Windows 10 notebook display and plugging the AirBar’s USB cable into the PC (Fig. 8). This converts a screen without touch capabilities into a touch screen. Neonode does its own manufacturing.

There are three diode at each transmitting location for redundancy, with a photocenter adjacent to each transmitting location. The laser diodes are pulsed, which prevents confusing the sensor with stray light.

With the AirBar serving as proof of concept as well as a consumer product, Neonode is now developing its flexible strip into an OEM component. (We have previously reported on a project that Neonode did with TI (TI Prepares DLP-based HUDs for Automotive Integration) and from MWC (NeoNode Enables Notebooks with Touch or check this video at 8:00 )

Fig. 7Fig. 7 Neode’s all-in-one flexible laser-diode component…. (Photo: Ken Werner)

Fig. 8Fig. 8 …is used in the company’s consumer “Air Bar.” (Photo: Ken Werner)

Synaptics is expanding from its touch-sensor base. The company showed a COG solution that divides a display into multiple areas and applies a separate gamma to each area, with the gammas for adjacent areas matched at edges. The idea is to make objects in a back-up camera, for instance, far more visible. The demo, which incorporated sub-surface touch in the panel, was impressive.

Also on display was a touch panel that works with both bare and gloved fingers, with electric noise reduction active in gloved mode to prevent interference with other automotive systems. Previously, OEMs discontinued incorporating a gloved mode because it required a stronger signal, which created a high level of electrical noise and interference.

Hosiden showed a 12.3″ curved touch panel with a metal-mesh touch sensor for vehicular navigation systems and center information displays (Fig. 9). The panel supports up to 10 simultaneus touch points and was very responsive.

Fig. 9 HosidenFig. 9 Hosiden’s 12.3″ curved panel with metal-mesh touch sensor. (Photo: Ken Werner)

Uneo was showing its pressure sensors printed on fabric (Fig. 10). They worked.

Fig. 10Fig. 10 Uneo’s “fabric sensor.” (Photo: Ken Werner)

3M was showing the louverless light control film it discussed in the technical session and showed an example. the “engineered refractive structure” that replaces the micro-louvers improves luminance in the targeted zones, increases efficiency by 20-30%, provides a wide viewing angle, and sharp cut-off, 3M said.

Sharp Microelectronics of America was showing the latest variations on its free-form theme. One of them was a combination of 12.3″ free-form display and a 12.2″ curved LCD (Fig. 11). The displays use an IGZO-TFT backplane, which allows gate drivers to be embedded into the pixels. Availability was “quotation available today.” Also on display was a 2.5″ full round LCD with touch panel. Quotations were targeted for Q1’18.

Fig. 11Fig. 11 Sharp showed this combination of a 12.3″ round free-form LCD with a 12.2″ curved LCD. (Photo: Ken Werner)

Global Lighting Technologies (GLT), in addition to the anticipated products, was showing a digital rear view mirror (which GLT called a “rear video mirror”) with a very bright, very thin GLT backlight. The backlight produced more that 150k cd/m² with more than 88% uniformity. The mirror was capable of on-demand HD streaming, said GLT.

Beneq/Lumiteq showed a a variety of applications for its lamination-ready TFEL displays (Fig. 12). For more information, see the accompanying article on the technical conference. (VDS02 Head Up Displays Remain a Challenge)

Fig. 12 Beneq LumineqFig. 12 Beneq show a variety of Lumiteq TFEL displays, some of which are ready to laminated into glass. (Photo: Ken Werner)

Chad Greene was demonstrating not only Westboro Photonics‘ light measurement equipment (Figs. 13a, 13b), but also its concept of whole-car measurement, which he also discussed in the technical session. The idea is that just measuring the optical characteristics of a single display — which manufacturers do to characterize a display and buyers presumable do at incoming inspection — is not sufficient. One needs to look at the ambient and display characteristics of all light sources in the car and optimize them as a system.

Fig. 13aFig. 13a (Photo: Ken Werner) A Westboro meter on robot arm and…

Fig. 13bFig. 13b … the display being measured, along with its surroundings. (Photo: Ken Werner)

This quick survey of the exhibition is not comprehensive, but it should give an idea of which display (and related) technologies are beign offered to the automotive industry. – KW