Automotive Displays Proliferate at Display Week 2018

Automotive Displays Proliferate at Display Week 2018

As displays in vehicles continue to increase in number and evolve in quality, they become an ever-greater focus at Display Week.

by Karlheinz Blankenbach

LARGER, higher, and more – three words that can easily be applied to the latest automotive displays. These displays are getting larger and larger; their total resolution and pixel densities are rising to new heights; and their sheer numbers are increasing as cars are being equipped with more and more displays. All of this explains the huge impact of automotive displays and related topics at SID’s Display Week. Automotive displays also represent one of the most promising applications for growth – especially revenue growth – in the display industry.

This article provides a brief overview of automotive display-related activities at the show this year in Los Angeles, including the symposium, the market focus conference on automotive displays and the automotive luncheon – a first this year. Selected automotive highlights from the 2018 exhibition are presented mostly in pictures.

Notable Automotive Presentations

The symposium provided seven sessions (including joint sessions and posters) on automotive and human-machine interface (HMI) topics, with many invited speakers and outstanding contributions. Here is a brief summary:

•  A distinguished paper award was issued to a team at Visteon for “Active Polarizer Dimmable Lens System,” which described significant advances in achieving the “black-panel effect” (hidden display), reducing power consumption, and raising lifetime (Fig. 1).

Fig. 1: Paul Weindorf (center) and the team from Visteon receive a distinguished paper award from David Hermann of Volvo (left), a new member of the vehicle subcommittee. On the right is Rashmi Rao of Harman, chair of SID’s automotive displays subcommittee. All photos by Karlheinz Blankenbach.

•  Plastic-based OLCDs (LCDs with organic TFTs) enable large-area automotive LCDs without glass. FlexEnable presented successful pre-production reliability results for high temperature/humidity tests in the paper “OLCD: Manufacturing Glass-Free Vehicle Displays.”

•  Continental offered a summary of calibration effects on hundreds of thousands of series production units in the paper “Performance Optimization for Display Solutions by Smart System Integration.” Special attention must be paid to maintaining consistent and repeatable luminance and contrast ratio (CR) performance for premium displays throughout the supply chain.

•  It is well known that quantum dots enlarge the color gamut of LCDs, and this is particularly beneficial for LCDs in vehicles, as pointed out in the paper “QLED Auto: Quantum Dot Based Wide Color Gamut LCD-TFT Display for Automotive Applications,” from Harman and Samsung Electronics. Other presenters on QD topics included Fujifilm and Nanosys.

•  Trust in autonomous cars will be enhanced by large head-up displays (HUDs) with larger fields of view (FOVs), called augmented-reality or AR HUDs, as outlined in the paper by a team from Toshiba, “Superiority of Monocular Augmented Reality when Continuous Viewing Is Required.”

•  A new architecture for a holographic waveguide (that is mirror-less) is described in a paper by DigiLens, “AR HUD Waveguide Technology.” This approach achieves a dramatic reduction in total volume required for the HUD system.

•  Luminit and Thales teamed up for “Holographic Grating to Improve the Efficiency of a Windshield HUD,” in which a transparent holographic optical grating significantly improves reflectance up to 80 percent, compared to 20 percent with today’s methods.

•  And last, the human-machine interface (HMI) will change significantly when it comes to autonomous driving, as described in the papers “HMI Concept for the Autonomous Car” from Renault and “Human Interface Design in Transition from Automated Driving to Manual Driving” from AIST. Both authors cited the latest approaches and results.

Market Focus on Automotive Displays

Display Supply Chain Consultants (DSCC) organized a well-attended market-focus conference on automotive displays at Display Week. Speakers from Strategy Analytics and Roland Berger presented information on market growth: display units for center-console and driver information will grow to nearly 200 million units by 2025. A keynote presentation by Kristin Kolodge of JD Power illuminated the role that displays play in developing drivers’ trust in the vehicle in a semi-autonomous system. Displays will be a critical piece of the human-machine interface as automobiles adopt autonomous features, and the conference included a panel discussion among industry experts about the challenges and opportunities for the display industry.

An LG Display presentation highlighted some of the technologies (such as improved lifetime and contrast) that the company is bringing to enable improvements in both LCD and OLED for automotive displays, and the conference concluded with a session on HUDs, with a joint presentation from GM and Envisics on bringing AR HUDs to vehicles, with additional presentations from Continental, Pioneer, Luminit, and Texas Instruments on unique developments that will enable advanced HUD systems.

Automotive Assembly

For the first time, the automotive displays community met for an “automotive luncheon” (Fig. 2) at Display Week for networking and discussions with peers. This event was sponsored by the German Flat Panel Forum (, DFF) and Harman. SID’s Automotive Subcommittee Chair Rashmi Rao of Harman, and the author of this article welcomed the attendees with demos and outlooks for automotive displays.

Fig. 2: The first automotive luncheon was well attended and resulted in new ideas and focused networking.

Exhibition: Seeing Is Believing

While the networking, technical sessions, market focus conference, and other events at Display Week whetted our appetites for automotive display technology, there is nothing like actually seeing displays in action. Therefore, the demos on the exhibition floor were the best way to experience and judge automotive display innovations.

As in the technical symposium, automotive topics are mostly from innovations in LCDs, OLEDs, HUDs, materials and measurement, etc., although there are new approaches on the horizon such as microLEDs. The current de facto standard for automotive interior panels (such as in Figs. 4 and 11) is 12.3-inches with 1,920 × 720 pixels; however, many companies are presenting larger sizes or glass solutions that stretch from A-pillar to A-pillar. The following paragraphs and figures provide selected highlights from the exhibition.

AM (TFT) LCDs dominated on the show floor just as they do in today’s cars. However, automotive OLEDs have improved from year to year in terms of pushing the luminance-lifetime-temperature relationship toward series requirements. OLEDs should eventually evolve from a luminance range of 500 to 600 cd/m2 to values of LCDs in the range of 1,000 cd/m2.

As demonstrated at other shows in prototype cars from manufacturers such as Mercedes and BYTON, full-size dashboard cover glass has become important and was exhibited by several companies at Display Week. Most of these demos consisted of three to four displays using a black-panel effect as pictured in an attention-getting demo on the show floor from JDI (Fig. 3), and in an OLED-based dashboard display from Continental and AGC in Fig. 4.

Fig. 3: JDI’s immersive cockpit demo, with dashboard and center-console displays, was one of the most popular exhibits on the floor at Display Week.

Fig. 4: Continental and AGC teamed up for a curved hot-formed glass display with two 12.3-in. OLEDs and one 7-in. OLED.

Figure 5 shows a set of automotive dashboard LCDs with different characteristics exhibited by LG.

Fig. 5: This demo includes examples of LG’s automotive LTPS LCDs with high luminance (1,000 cd/m2) and about 200 ppi. The center display sports an in-cell touch while the co-driver display achieves a dynamic contrast ratio of 100,000:1 by local dimming.

A recent area for integrating displays is the steering wheel, as demoed by Samsung (Fig. 6) and Visionox (Fig. 7) – all these displays are OLEDs. Essential for those types of displays are head-impact characteristics and compatibility with airbags.

Fig. 6: An unbreakable plastic OLED was developed by Samsung for the steering wheel. The 6.2-in. display reaches 529 ppi and 600 cd/m2. It withstands the impact of a 6.8-kg ball (comparable to a head) released from a height of 2.3 meters.

Fig. 7: Visionox also featured a demo with OLED displays integrated into the steering wheel.

Automotive displays have to deliver high luminance for bright-light conditions. This typically results in high power consumption requiring sophisticated and costly heat management. Consequently, there is a noticeable trend toward local dimming in automotive LCDs, from edge lighting to direct backlighting, as exhibited by Tianma in Fig. 8 and also by LG in Fig. 5.

Fig. 8: This visualization of local direct dimming by Tianma with 240 segments (LEDs) resulted in a dynamic contrast ratio over 40 million to 1 and consumes power at reference images only about 1/3 of the electrical power of a standard panel.

The challenge is to deal with the typically bright foreground and dark background of automotive HMIs. Here OLEDs have the advantage, as only pixels that are lit draw power.

Samsung presented a light-field 7-in. OLED display for an instrument cluster at the show (Fig. 9). This should speed up data gathering for the driver even for “overloaded” instru-ment cluster HMIs.

Fig. 9: This picture shows an automotive autostereoscopic 3D light-field based display with 18 views by Samsung. This 7-in. WXGA OLED enables a 3D depth of 80 mm in total.

Another trend in automotive displays is replacing rear-view exterior mirrors with cameras and displays, as shown in Figs. 4 and 7. However, there is a great deal of ongoing discussion about where to place the “mirror displays” in terms of ergonomics and safety.

A perennial demand from interior designers are curved displays, as there is basically no large, flat surface in a car. Many activities for curved displays (convex and concave) are related to the center-stack area. Tesla’s 17-in. flat-touch display paved the road for other OEMs. AUO showcased an interesting approach to combine the best of two worlds – a curved touch display with two holes for mechanical rotary knobs (Fig. 10).

Fig. 10: This 13.2-in. center-stack freeform LCD from AUO has two symmetrical holes of 35-mm diameter that enable easy integration of mechanical rotary knobs. Other features are a curvature of 1,000 mm, a-Si gate driver integrated within the display area, 1,000 cd/m2 and a resolution of 1,600 × 1,200.

A 12.3-in. curved OLED with large color gamut was presented by BOE (Fig. 11).

Fig. 11: This thin (0.5 mm) flexible 12.3-in. OLED from BOE features 600 cd/m2, a wide color gamut, and a power consumption of 14 W.

Touch control has become more and more widespread in automotive center-stack displays. But as many car functions are set or modified by the driver while driving, a haptic/tactile feedback is almost certainly more practical in terms of usability and safety. Tianma showed a significantly improved (over previous efforts) prototype (Fig. 12).

Fig. 12: This electrostatic tactile touch display by Tianma improves safety for automotive use compared to standard touch. Both texture (e.g., rough surface) and click (a feeling similar to a mechanical push button) sensations are possible.

Last but not least, as an example for automotive materials improvements, Dexerials presented a reflection reduction film (Fig. 13) with very low reflectance, which is essential for bright light conditions.

Fig. 13: This low-reflective film from Dexerials combines anti-reflection and anti-glare characteristics for a specular reflectance below 0.2 percent.

These examples are just a personal selection of the huge variety of automotive products at SID’s Display Week 2018 symposium and exhibition. Autonomous driving will foster even more and larger displays. The duration of a driver watching a display will jump from seconds to hours. HMIs will evolve from offering today’s functional properties to providing an emotional user experience. And owned cars will become a third living space for fun, leisure and work. All of this means we will continue to see automotive display innovations at Display Week for some time.  •

Professor Dr. Karlheinz Blankenbach has been involved with displays since 1990 and has conducted numerous projects related to displays (many with the automotive industry) at Pforzheim University, where he been a full professor since 1995. He is vice chair of the SID technical symposium subcommittee for automotive/vehicular displays and HMI technologies and a member of the International Committee for Display Metrology (ICDM). He can be reached at