Screenless Display Threatens to Disrupt the Status Quo of Infotainment System

OEM’s are adding new display screens to the center stack and instrument cluster. In addition, the deployment of the head-up display will become common.

Nowadays, it is appealing to have the design and capability of the in-car infotainment system in sync with the smartphones in the pocket. With the advent of Subaru’s StarLink an android based system and Apple Carplay the ios based system, the comparison has become more obvious as the smartphone companies started entering the in-car infotainment market.

The screens inside the cars are getting fancier and bigger owing to the trend started by Tesla. In the near future, the automotive industry is expected to witness a bigger and internet connected screen as a standard in most models including the entry-level cars as well. OEM’s are adding new display screens to the center stack and instrument cluster. In addition, the deployment of the head-up display will become common. The displays are expected to be more expensive because of its size and the end users are willing to pay more money to get fancy interiors and big screens. The other technologies which are getting prevalent in the screenless displays are Interactive Projection technology, 3D Projection Technology, Virtual Retinal Display, Heads Up Display, Virtual Reality Goggles.

Automo expects that bigger and fancier screens will engage the user in screen operation and adjustment more often while driving, this will lead to distraction causing more accidents as compared to the usage of smartphone while driving. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), in 2016 alone, 3450 lives were lost in the U.S. because of distracted driving.

Infotainment Systems were developed to address challenges such as driver distraction while using the phone and other consumer electronics gadgets but the infotainment system is itself not prone to distraction and holds a legal liability during an accident. Thus, automakers are cautious in adding new features to the infotainment system.

Car sharing, connected and autonomous cars are expected to lower the technology gap between smartphone devices and in-car infotainment system. People who will not be driving will utilize their time in operating the infotainment system. Thus autonomous, connected car and car sharing will boost the growth of advanced infotainment system. In the present stage, the infotainment increment will lag as the driver is submissive towards driving and it is dangerous to distract their attention on the fancier and bigger infotainment system

To address the current challenges, researchers are identifying solutions with respect to screenless displays. Screenless displays are the displays without a screen. There are different types of techniques to achieve screenless display i.e. visual image display, retina direct display, and synaptic interface. Head up display is the type of visual image display where the light gets reflected from the intermediate object to the retina.

Head up display will be a small part of the complete screenless display segment, but it is expected to attain the highest growth as compared to other types of screenless displays. The technology is currently under development, getting perfected and fine-tuned.

Head up display will play a very important in replacing the current infotainment system. It will allow the driver to keep their focus on the road without getting distracted by the big screens. Head up display has a huge potential in the automotive domain. The industry is witnessing joint development and acquisition to bring this technology to the market.

For example, Continental and DigiLens have together developed a head up display specific for the automotive industry by employing waveguide technology. Panasonic along with Visteon have developed augmented reality-based head-up display for the automotive industry. Other companies such as Nippon Seiki, Denso and many more are developing head up display for automotive.

The other type of screenless display technology which is getting traction from the researcher is the synaptic interface. The synaptic interface does not employ light at all, the image or the information is directly transmitted to the brain. Previously, researchers were able to develop unidirectional brain-computer interface where the information is transmitted to the brain. But at present, researchers are developing a bidirectional brain-computer interface where the communication channel is open from the brain to computer and vice versa.

Researchers at Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft NeuroLab are currently developing a bi-directional sensitive brain-computer interface. With the help of neuro-technology, researchers are trying to detect the human emotional state and guide the vehicle with respect to the current emotions. If the current state of mind is angry, the brain will guide the vehicle to take a stop till the driver is fully focused to drive. This technology is expected to disrupt the industry in future. At present, the technology is under testing phase and will take medium to long term to be accepted in the market. The project is being financed by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research and the prime focus is to converge the technology with driver assistance system. Nissan in collaboration with the Canadian Research Council, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, and Bitbrain, is developing a bidirectional brain-computer interface.

The current need of the hour for the brain-computer interface is reduction in the size of the sensors and electrodes and determination of the positive and negative signals from the brain. Researchers are currently working towards developing a headband which is convenient to use for the driver without any hassle.

The user interface can be considered as one of the unique selling proposition for screenless display. The ease of designing a product without a screen will provide the product designer with unlimited freedom in designing. Unlike conventional display technologies, the proposed concept of the screenless display will offer a multi-angle view. This aids in providing a real-time visual experience for the user. The interactivity of end-user with the type of screenless display will enhance the product value. The ease of integration of multiple technologies, such as the 3D holographic display, motion controllers, augmented and virtual reality will create a new visual experience.

With product design playing a critical role in the development for automotive industry, adoption of the novel solution is expected to enhance the competitiveness among other industry participants. It can be expected to assist the product design team in developing newer products and manufacturing them easily, thereby boosting profitability.

There is a need for screenless displays, which can operate on its own without any involvement of the physical screen. The screenless displays will reduce the energy consumption and hardware requirement, operate with ease, will be compact in size, and will be low maintenance. Screenless display devices will not demand cumbersome power requirement and will provide the benefit of low or zero-maintenance to the users.

The screenless display will establish next-generation business models that will redefine business propositions and influence future technology, which will further help to initiate business models that will influence the industry dynamics.

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