Cars today already come with many screens, including a big center-stack display and an instrument cluster. But, all those displays, with all their navigation aids and safety alerts, pose the problem of driver distraction.
Texas Instruments is one of the companies banking on head-up display (HUD) as the solution, calling it “the ADAS display of the future.”
TI’s argument is that HUD allows the driver to keep his eyes on the road while reading alerts and warnings that appear on the windshield.
Jeff Dickhart, product line manager of TI’s DLP automotive business, told EE Times, “We think DLP-based technology can create a completely new kind of head-up display that takes advantage of a wider field of view and a larger display area.”
TI is rolling out the company’s first automotive qualified DLP chipset for HUD application. One key advantage is that the chipset enables HUDs with “the industry’s widest field of view (FOV) up to 12 degrees,” claimed Dickhart.
This compares to the 4- to 6-degree FOV prevalent in currently available HUDs, according to Mark Boyadjis, senior analyst & manager, Infotainment & HMI, IHS Automotive. “Twelve-degree FOV looks noticeably larger” on a windshield, he said. “We expect TI to move into the high-end HUD market — which the next-generation Audi or BMW, for example, are going after.”
Rapidly growing HUD market
IHS is bullish on HUD’s growth. Boyadijis said the global market, which was only 500,000 units five years ago, is expected to expand to 2.5 million units by the end of this year. The market research firm forecasts 11 million units by 2020 and 2021. “If not in every vehicle in every country, it is growing very rapidly,” the IHS analyst said.
So, what are the fundamental differences in today’s HUD and the DLP-based HUD being promoted by TI?
Asked about the current HUDs, Mark Fitzgerald, associate director of automotive practice at Strategy Analytics, explained that the leading solutions are light-source displays with a series of mirrors, such as Continental’s HUD, and combiner HUDs like those used by Bosch.
In light-source display, mirrors direct light to the base of the windshield and a filter reflects the image. The image appears on the windshield in the driver's line of sight.
Combiner HUDs are typically small, translucent screens located in front of the driver. These devices, which combine a projector and a display, use a small flip-up screen on the dashboard.
In contrast, TI is leveraging its own Digital Light Processing (DLP) technology, used in digital cinema, for its automotive HUD.