As cars continue to evolve how they interact with their exterior surroundings, thanks to the growth of intertwined connectivity, so too will people change the way they interact with cars' interior environments. Now that digital touchscreens and displays — and not just one but multiple — are a new standard, companies are working to craft the optimal blend of helpful assistance without being too distracting. German company Continental believes its new 3D technology could be part of the ultimate solution.
Automotive technology, manufacturing, and supply company Continental has announced it will debut a production-ready 3D display on an upcoming top-of-the-line version of the Genesis GV80. No glasses are needed to view the technology, either, as it is accomplished with an interior camera and what are known as parallax barriers. These "slanted slats that divide the image for the viewer" tweak the digital imagery in a way that "slightly offset views reach the right and left eye, resulting in a three-dimensional image." To maintain the 3D view, Continental also includes an interior camera in this technology package. The camera detects the driver's line of sight and adjusts accordingly. The camera also acts as a watchdog and will send notifications when it detects fatigue or if the driver stares at the screen too long.
Continental believes adding 3D texture to digital screens can be helpful to the driver, not more distracting. By showing various road signs, traffic safety alerts, or other infotainment messages in a 3D manner, it's meant to be easier to see and focus on as opposed to scanning a flat 2D display.
To accomplish this technology without bogging down the system, Continental is changing the way the brains of the car currently work. Right now, there are multiple small control units that are tied to individual screens. In the future, Continental imagines a reduction of control units and only a few "high-performance computers" that will run everything. With all of the displays tied into one computer, more features are possible, including dragging and dropping options from screen to screen, or in future autonomous vehicles, playing one video across numerous screens at the same time. Continental calls this its Cross Domain Hub.
Interestingly, in the same announcement, Continental also detailed what it's working on for the next-generation of 3D car displays. In a collaboration with California-based holographic tech company Leia, Continental is developing a "Lightfield Display," which relies on Leia's Diffractive Lightfield Backlighting (DLB) technology. This is described as, "an optical waveguide with diffraction grating and nanostructures beneath the display panel creating a natural 3D effect by bending the light." This next-gen display does not require a camera and can be seen by all occupants in the car, which presents the opportunity for video conferences, online shopping, movies, and games in 3D. This is imagined in the Instagram post below. Continental plans to put that next-gen system into production by 2022.