Last October I had a chance to visit with Incom, and write about this manufacturer of fused fiber optic faceplates. The faceplates are composed of thousands of tiny fiber optics densely packed together – dozens per pixel – to transport the display image from the bottom of the faceplate to the top of it. That is a really handy feature when the display is often buried deep inside an instrument cluster, ATM machine or a cockpit.
The company has made glass-based F/O faceplates for decades, but it recently perfected polymer-based fused fiber optic faceplates, which is what the company was highlighting at SID this year. According to company president, Michael Detarando, the polymer faceplates are 3-4X less expensive than its glass counterparts.
One partner that is taking this creative ball and running with it is Australia-based, Fairlight. The company has developed what it calls “Picture Key” technology that marries an LCD, polymer faceplate and depressable button together. Originally developed to replace keys on audio mixer consoles, the company has expanded into a number of markets – anywhere where buttons are pushed. This includes casinos and elevators. For example, on display at SID was an elevator panel concept that also included the flexible Intellipad and XSTREAM tactile controllers.
Also being discussed was the APC 710HR (High Resolution) Display Head Assembly (DHA), which is the first hi-res product for a military cockpit that both approaches “retina” pixel density at 256 pixels/inch and incorporates Incom’s light collimation fused fiber optic. This is a 5×5 inch, 1280 x 1280 resolution, full color display and is the highest pixel density product integrating “light spillage” mitigation (i.e. via the fused fiber optics) currently available for an aviation cockpit. It is available for OEM and Tier 1 avionics integrators.