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In-Car Displays of the Near Future: Holograms and Changeable Surface Textures

Motor Trend logo Motor Trend 1/10/2020 Motor Trend Staff
a car parked in a parking lot: Byton-M-Byte-43.jpg

The Byton M-Byte's jumbo, 48-inch interior screen grabbed headlines, but was by no means the only cool new display technology among the car goodies at CES 2020. Here are three of the coolest:

a man driving a car: Continental Natural Display Video Call© Motor Trend Staff Continental Natural Display Video Call

Continental 3D Lightfield Centerstack

"Flat was yesterday," proclaims the fact sheet explaining this new screen technology (shown above) that Conti says will be rolling out in 2023. The screen uses liquid-crystal technology with LED backlighting, but the key to the 3D look is a diamond-like diffuser that sends that backlighting up through the LCD. The effect looks perfectly three-dimensional from straight on, though if you slowly move your head from side to side your eyes will pass through eight cones of perfect perception. As you get to the border of said cones, the image appears to invert. Strange, but pretty cool. The 3D Lightfield on display also features haptic feedback.

a screen shot of a video game© Motor Trend Staff

Funai Electric Holographic Touch Display

Japanese consumer electronics company Funai Electric showed a really cool holographic display that featured a screen mounted flush with the top of the instrument panel that, when viewed from the driver's seat position, appears to create a head-up display that hovers above the dash. According to Peter Swinkels, Funai's general manager of product planning, the display can even support touch interaction.

a black computer mouse on a desk© Motor Trend Staff

Mimo Vue with TanvasTouch

Chicago-based Northwestern University Neuroscience and Robotics Lab spinoff Tanvas displayed a new type of haptic touchscreen technology that is being developed and commercialized in conjunction with Japanese display supplier InnoLux. Most haptic screens we're familiar with vibrate the entire screen so that wherever your finger is, it feels the pop or click. This becomes problematic as screen sizes increase, as the amount of vibration required can be increasingly difficult to isolate from the rest of the car. Tanvas' solution uses electro-adhesion to instantaneously and electrically adhere and release the finger to the screen as the digit is drawn across the screen. Programming the on/off frequency of said bumps can make the screen feel like sand, corduroy fabric, fine screen mesh, wavy bumps, etc. A stationary finger feels nothing, though, so that "pop" to confirm a static button-press is not feasible. But it works on screens large and small, flat or curved, and it's solid-state—no moving parts, no vibration to isolate. The price is said to be competitive with existing haptic solutions for small screens, but that cost doesn't rise proportionally with increasing screen size as with the other haptic screen technologies. The companies are in talks with multiple manufacturers.

Check out more photos from 2020 CES in the gallery below!

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