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Redefining Vehicle Instrumentation Clusters

Redefining Vehicle Instrumentation Clusters

Human machine interfaces (HMIs) play a key role in all branches of modern electronic design and the operational benefits they have led to in portable consumer goods (such as smartphones) are now being mirrored elsewhere. The automotive HMI business is expected to experience a 7.7% compound annual growth rate (CAGR) between 2015 and 2019, according to industry analysts TechNavio. Vehicle manufacturers are now either augmenting conventional, mechanically-based dashboard instrumentation or replacing it completely with digital equivalents, so as to overcome the issues of heightened levels of functionality and increasing volumes of information involved, combined with limited available space. In addition, this is also enabling enhanced cockpit aesthetics to be realised.

The advent of adaptive, context-sensitive graphical instrumentation is starting to have a major effect on the automotive world, resulting in digitally-rendered dashboards that can be adapted to suit the user’s specific demands, so that information can be presented and managed optimally. Already being implemented into luxury models, it is now starting to be seen in an increasing proportion of mid-range cars too. The rendering of virtual instrumentation onto a TFT-LCD panel in this manner not only allows a car brand to provide a compelling feature by which to differentiate itself from the competition, it also means that the company can tailor vehicles for specific regional markets, or offer higher value limited-edition models without major investment of engineering resources. Furthermore, it facilitates driver personalisation and adds to the overall user experience. The look and feel of the instrumentation can be altered so that it is a better fit for the driver’s personal taste, making them more comfortable in that environment. Another upshot is that particular items of functionality can be prioritised - for instance, during parking manoeuvres, the speedometer dial could be substituted in order to access imaging data from exterior cameras.

The migration towards displays with greater dimensional sizes delivering larger quantities of graphical information in a more flexible format of course places the graphics control technology that supports it under exacting pressures though. Toshiba has produced a white paper which discusses the growing need within the automobile industry for application-optimised graphics ICs. You can download it here.

Learn more about implementing TFT graphical displays in cars

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