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Nvidia, TI to bring next-gen HUD tech

Posted: 12 Nov 2013 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:TFT LCD? HUD? windshield projection?

The elusive market for high-quality head-up display (HUD) or windshield projection in a car is set to face revolutionizing technologies from some companies, driving next-gen HUD applications. Texas Instruments with DLP technology and Nvidia whose graphic chip is now making deeper inroads into the automotive market, say they're contributing to the evolution of the automotive HUD in a big way.

Mariquita Gordon, GM of the DLP embedded business unit at TI, has revealed that DLP technology can offer "extremely brighter colours, wider field of view and much more compact size" than anything available today (typically a TFT LCD-based projection system).

Danny Shapiro, automotive director for Nvidia, stated that his company's GPU is fully capable of producing smooth HUD graphics at a high frame rate. "The run-time engine inside the GPU processor enables real-time rendering of information" such as fuel level, temperature, or analysed data coming from the advanced driver assistance system (ADAS).

In July, IHS Automotive called HUDs that can project an image that floats about 7.5ft in front of a driver's eyes the "optimal display technology for cars." The firm forecasts that worldwide sales of HUD-equipped cars will increase from 1.2 million units in 2012 to 9.1 million in 2020. "Sales this year are forecast to climb seven per cent to 1.3 million units."

But Mark Boyadjis, senior analyst for infotainment and HMI at IHS Automotive, noted that much of the market growth is still being driven by combiner HUDs, typically small, translucent screens located in front of the driver. These devices, which combine a projector and a display, don't use the windshield as a display. Instead, they use a small flip-up screen on the dashboard.

Projector HUDs typically use a small TFT LCD that comes out of the dash. Light is directed to the base of the windshield via uniquely shaped mirrors, and a filter reflects the image. The image is projected on the windshield in the driver's line of sight.

As for HUDs large enough to fill the windshield and present an augmented-reality view to the driver, Boyadjis cautioned that those are still "10 years out." The problem is that a bigger projected image requires a larger TFT LCD, which can have heat issues when integrated inside a car. More importantly, a large device is hard to fit inside a dashboard.

"There are industry experts who swear that a wide-screen HUD is just a pipe dream," Boyadjis said. "If you install a large-screen HUD above the dashboard, inevitably, someone will ask you, 'Where do you put the defroster?"

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