Digital gauge clusters are going 3D

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Digital instrument clusters are quickly becoming the norm in new cars, but the march of technology never stops.

Automotive supplier Continental has developed a 3D digital instrument display. An early version of the system was launched in the Genesis G70 in the Korean market in 2018. We’ll see it here in the United States for the first time in the 2021 Genesis GV80 mid-size SUV.

The display uses a driver-facing camera to track line of sight. This allows it to overlay information directly where the driver is looking. For example, it can show a stop sign as a warning on top of the digital gauges and any other graphics already being displayed.

The display does not require special glasses. Instead, it uses parallax barriers, which are slanted slats that divide the image for the viewer. Two different, slightly offset views of the same image are seen by each eye. That information is combined by the brain, which perceives a three-dimensional image.

Continental relies as much on the driver-facing camera to make this tech work as the display itself. The camera helps center images in the driver’s line of sight, but also acts as an attention monitor, ensuring drivers don’t get too focused on the 3D image.

The 3D display is designed to work with Continental’s Cross Domain Hub infotainment computer. Continental hopes this computer can take on the work of multiple individual control units, streamlining the electronics of future cars. This could also allow the driver to move content across multiple in-car displays, according to Continental. The company is aiming to, for example, let a driver or passenger swipe a navigation map from one display to another with gesture control.

Continental also hopes to ditch the driver-facing camera for future 3D displays. The company is working with Silicon Valley-based Leia to use the latter’s Diffractive Lightfield Backlighting technology in future displays. this creates a 3D effect by bending light around a panel, according to Continental.

This next-generation display is planned for production in 2022. And it’s not intended just for drivers; Continental said passengers will be able to use it for videoconferencing and watching movies.

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