Continental has received its first major order for a pillar-to-pillar display in a production vehicle from a German vehicle manufacturer. By developing a display solution that extends across the entire width of the cockpit, the technology company systematically continues the trend toward larger displays, which has been ongoing for many years. The integrated display solution from one A-pillar to another provides space for a growing number of vehicle functions, digital services, as well as communication and infotainment applications. It is scheduled to go into volume production in 2024. The solution makes the display the central visual interface between the driver, front passenger and digital driving experience. Its launch in a high-volume production vehicle marks another milestone in the evolution of the car into a smart device as part of the internet of things. Whether it is navigation, warning signs, movies, news, social networks, office applications or booking apps to plan the route: Displayed across the entire width of the cockpit, the content is fully immersive and offers drivers and passengers a completely new user experience.
“A driving experience that is digital and safe is becoming the most distinctive feature of modern cars. The size of the displays and their intuitive operation play a central role here. In short, what used to be horsepower is now screen diagonals and user experience,” said Dr. Frank Rabe, Head of the Human Machine Interface business unit at Continental. “With the user experience, we already create value today. Each year, we supply a total of around 120 million products for human-machine interaction, equipping one in four cars worldwide. With the increasing significance of automated driving, the way in which we spend our time in cars is becoming even more important. As a result, there is also a growing need for solutions and services for the in-vehicle user experience.”
Evolution of the cockpit: From pointer instruments to a digital user experience
Speedometer, rev counter, fuel consumption gauge – the time of the classic dashboard is over. In view of the multitude of new vehicle functions and digital services that are pushing into cars with increasing connectivity, traditional pointer instruments and center consoles are now too rigid and inflexible. An exclusive focus on the driver is also no longer appropriate for the wide range of communication and infotainment services now available for vehicle occupants. Therefore, displays have been getting bigger and bigger for years. This also poses design challenges, which over time have resulted in different shapes: from flat displays to curved displays that fit seamlessly into the cockpit, into V-, C-, L- or S-shaped displays, accommodating both the driver and the front passenger, so that they can be reached with minimum effort. As the size increases, several displays are connected under one surface to form a single unit. Creating invisible transitions is not the only crucial aspect here. Sensors and cameras that record driver behavior can be seamlessly integrated. Convex and concave shapes are also increasingly being used so that the user can perceive the operating elements intuitively. Continental continues working on intelligent hardware and software solutions to simplify a safe, multimodal interaction between drivers and vehicles.
Whether it is 3D without special glasses or pillar-to-pillar displays, Continental is the pioneer in this digital cockpit evolution. In addition to the further development of screen solutions, the technology company is also driving forward the transformation of the vehicle electronics architecture with concepts such as the high-performance computer for the cockpit. In view of the fact that a few high-performance computers will replace the previous large number of dedicated control units in the future, the pillar-to-pillar display is the next evolutionary step and an expression of the increasing convergence of the car to a mobile data center.