Continental center stack brings ergonomics to displays

March 24, 2011 // By Christoph Hammerschmidt
Electronic displays increasingly play a leading role in vehicle cockpits. Now automotive tier one Continental has introduced a center stack module that combines the versatility of LCD displays with ergonomics and design freedom.

Integrating electronics displays into vehicles is a challenge for car designers: While the surface of the display is strictly flat, the environment of the display in many cases is characterized by curved surfaces. Continental claims that its center stack module offers car designers a high degree of design freedom and implementation options while it also exploits the electronic functionality of an LCD display.

The module contains an 8" color display along with all control elements. The module makes use of the so called black panel technology which makes control elements visible only when the car's electricity network is activated. The module also makes extensive use of capacitive sensing for the implementation of virtual buttons and slide controls. The center stack surface consists of a dark shaded three-dimensional bezel. Under the cover are the 8" color display, the lighting elements as well as the capacitive foils for the detection of user commands. The display itself is also coated by a capacitive foil which provides the functionality of a touch screen. Center stack and display are equipped with an LED backlight which enables designers to configure any desired color.

The system currently contains five virtual main menu buttons; central functions can be reached within only two context-sensitive submenus on the touch screen display. The system offers several operating modes for optimal ergonomics; in order to guide the driver's attention, functions not used in a given context are hidden. Haptic guides help drivers to blindly find the correct virtual button without distract his attention.

The center stack module integrates all electronics components such as PCB with microcontrollers, display drivers, light guides with LEDs as well as the capacitive foils into a pre-configured module. In the vehicle, the center stack module connects to a head unit or an HMI control unit. Interfaces to consumer electronics devices can be integrated as well. Functionality at a given hardware implementation is scalable over a wide range, Continental