New TFT LCD Technology Shape Infotainment for Cars of the Future
Advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) promise to enhance vehicle safety by helping to simplify the driving process, reducing sources of driver distraction and inattention that often lead to accidents. With ADAS support, drivers and their passengers can hope to find safer roadways, countering deadly trends in motor vehicle accidents.
TFT LCDs offer the ability to display full color or monochrome video from cameras, DVDs, or other video inputs, and serve as a multiple-role display, integrating data from other sources at the same time. Thanks to their microcontrollers, TFT LCDs can receive commands from a car’s electronic control units (ECUs) and process many different types of signals.
What’s Driving Use
Currently, TFT LCDs are used in many applications in cars, to control the air conditioning and audio, in the instrument cluster, in dashboard displays or driver information displays, and in aftermarket navigation devices.
Newer automobiles have multiple applications for the latest TFT LCDs. A center stack displays general vehicle information like the car’s gear, sounds alarms, and assists with rearview-video parking. Rear and side mirrors can also integrate TFT displays with video. Rear-seat entertainment displays are becoming larger and offering Blu-ray, email and Internet connectivity. Eventually displays will be included on the passenger side as more cars become connected with phone apps, voice commands and autopilot features.
Many hybrid and electric cars use displays to indicate performance functionality, such as battery life and gas gauge levels. Some even measure just how efficient drivers are being, showing an illustration with a vine that grows leaves when the driver is being efficient. Alternatively, the vine can shrink if the driver is being inefficient.
And, as more cars include navigation and safety features such as collision avoidance systems, backup cameras, and night-viewing systems, they need displays that indicate various operating modes. Night modes integrate and process infrared camera data with pedestrian detection night vision. Other modes run animation when the doors are opened or sensors like the tachometer, speedometer, cooling water temperature gauge, oil pressure gauge or fuel gauge change state.
Performance Advances and Size Trends
Manufacturers have improved TFT LCD technologies used for computer monitors and televisions as display sizes became larger. As a result, the screens that are commonly used in cars (from 1 to 12 inches in size) are benefitting. Compared to early TFT LCD generations, the latest displays have much better image quality thanks to increasing pixel density and resolution. They offer interconnectivity, are available in a wider range of sizes and shapes, use less power and are more user-friendly.
In addition, brighter and higher-contrast-ratio displays make them easier to view during bright daylight conditions. Manufacturers greatly lowered surface reflectivity with improved anti-reflective coatings, making the displays easier to read during high-daylight-glare conditions and reducing reflection in the windshield. Currently, manufacturers are also using white LEDs for backlighting over cold-cathode fluorescent lamp backlights, improving the color fidelity.
Displays with wider viewing angles are beginning to appear in cars as more manufacturers implement the latest In-Plane Switching technology into small- and medium-format automotive displays.