Multi-graphic projection display transforms traditional control systems

January 19, 2012 // By Christoph Hammerschmidt
TRW Automotive, through its Body Control Systems business, is transforming traditional technologies such as keypad entry systems to offer control of a variety of options at the touch of a fingertip. Towards this end, the company applies the rear projection technology to automotive displays.

TRW's patented multi-graphic rear projection display is a low cost solution that allows different symbols to appear on a surface in the same physical space at different times. The display does not require an expensive graphics processor. It can easily be configured for non-rectangular and/or curved surface applications.

"Just as today's smart phones offer consumers the opportunity to quickly switch from one type of control function to another, TRW is using multi-graphic rear projection display and capacitive touch sensing to allow vehicle owners to control a variety of vehicle functions quickly and easily," said Vic Peltola, director of sales for TRW North America Body Control Systems.

A primary example is keypad entry systems that allow a vehicle owner access to a vehicle through a security code even if they do not have their car keys. This previously one-dimensional keypad only featured numbers for punching in the code - but with multi-graphic display options the keypad can instantly offer the choice to control other functions such as trunk access, interior lights, power windows and more.

The symbols for these various functions automatically appear when a user touches the control panel surface and disappear after a few moments of inactivity. The panel surface is extremely sleek and is only a few millimeters thick, allowing for easy packaging. Its temperature independent response makes it well suited for automotive applications and the mutual capacitance touch sensing is capable of accurately detecting touch in high-humidity environments such as rain or snow.

TRW anticipates that the new multi-graphic display technology will be ready for production in 2012.