These five automotive gadgets currently under development might be common equipment a decade from now.
MOST motorists assume that today’s automotive technologies, such as touchscreen infotainment, active driving aids and stateof- the-art safety systems, are designed by carmakers. The truth is, most of these technologies are developed by third-party suppliers, who work closely with car manufacturers to incorporate the clever devices into our cars and make them, well, cleverer. One such supplier is Continental. Here are five of the most interesting vehicular gizmos showcased at the company’s biennial Tech Show in its Hanover headquarters earlier this year. Before the year 2025, your new car could be equipped with one/some/all of these.
1. 3-D HUD
The head-up display (HUD), which “projects” pertinent driving info such as speed and navigation instructions onto the windscreen area in the driver’s line of sight, can be specified for more cars than ever before, not just on the expensive/exotic models. HUD technology is being taken further, and the way ahead is indicated by the Augmented Reality HUD, or AR-HUD. It uses a so-called digital micro-mirror device to provide the driver with three-dimensional real-time infographics. It goes beyond displaying speed limits – it can also work with the cruise control to indicate the distance between the car and the vehicle in front, as well as lane demarcations.
Tomorrow’s Augmented Reality HUD doesn’t require “3-D movie glasses”.
2. TRULY AUTOMATED PARKING
Imagine being able to park your car without you behind the wheel. It’ll be great in tight carparks, where after your car has been squeezed into a space, it’s diffi cult for you to open the door and get out/in. Most of the technology in this proposed solution is already available. Four fish-eye cameras (mounted in the grille, at the rear and under the wing mirrors) capture a 360-degree all-round view of the car’s surroundings and display the information on the dashboard’s touchscreen. The driver then selects his desired parking spot as indicated on the screen, and the car does the rest. The system can even be operated remotely, via a specially developed app on the driver’s smartphone. This allows him to leave the vehicle and use the app to initiate/observe the automated parking operation. In future, it might even be able to switch off the engine automatically once the car is parked.
3. THE MATRIX REVOLUTION
Active-matrix organic lightemitting diodes, or Amoled, are widely used in consumer products such as television sets, smartphones and tablets. They off er crystal-clear resolution while minimising energy consumption. Now, Amoled has made its way into experimental panels and clusters for the vehicle. The Amoled instrument cluster seamlessly combines both analogue aspects (mechanical pointers and printed dials) and digital elements (image eff ects and RGB LED array), while the high-resolution Amoled console panel can have a curved form to integrate stylishly with a curvaceous dashboard.
4. NO MORE MIRRORS
With digital cameras being increasingly commonplace in cars these days, it’s no surprise that OE (original equipment) developers and automakers are working together to extend or maximise the cameras’ functions. One possibility is to replace the car’s rear view mirrors with cameras. Continental has a development vehicle so equipped. Its three “mirrors” (above the windscreen and at the front door pillars) have been “replaced” by monitors integrated with the dashboard that show digitised rear views. This system is claimed to off er a wider field of vision than traditional mirrors and eliminate blind spots. At the same time, removing the external wing mirrors lowers the car’s coeffi cient of drag and improves driving effi ciency. Volkswagen’s low-volume XL1 has small cameras in place of side mirrors, so this idea is perhaps not that far from mass production
5. TOUCHY-FEELY TOUCHSCREEN
One complaint from drivers about modern touchscreen infotainment systems is they’re distracting or diffi cult to use while on the move, because they don’t have the same tactile quality as traditional physical buttons. With familiarity, the user can operate the latter without taking his eyes off the road. That’s where a haptic-feedback touchscreen comes into play. It gives the user’s fingertip a sort of movement impulse when his chosen function is accepted by the system. It’s sensitive enough to distinguish between an intentional press/command and an accidental touch, based on the strength of the force being exerted on the screen.