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Jan. 10, 2012: EE Catalog

Reimagining Automotive Dashboards

Let's start with two trends. First, the cost of high–reso­lution displays has plummeted to new low levels along with the exploding demand for high–resolution LCD, OLED and other flat panels for high–volume markets such as mobile phones, netbooks, laptops and TVs. Secondly, man­ufacturers have recognized that a global chassis approach to the manufacture of cars delivers significant reductions in cost if adopted in high volume globally.

The result of these in combination: software–configurable dashboards using flat panels mean the benefit of fewer changes from country to country. And being able to config­ure more customer options at the dealer rather than custom fit on a production line has major benefits for the retail channel. That's good news for everyone in the car supply chain.

If there's a good argument to adopt a new technology that delivers cost savings while significantly enhancing your product's appeal, then that's a strong motivation to move fast. And that's what we're starting to see for electronic dashboards.

Consumers have high expectations for the dashboard of their vehicle: the display must be highly responsive, ex­tremely clear and easy to use.

These systems utilize advanced 3D graphics techniques, sometimes combined with high–speed vector graphics, to deliver the high–quality, fast–response imagery needed by high–resolution dashboards.

Demand breaks down into two distinct types of dash­board display:

  • Classic: the emphasis is on photo realism, where the graphics render a display that looks like today's familiar physical instrument
  • Modern: functions such as speed, revs and torque as well as indicators are displayed in modern, stylized graphics

The ability to change the look of the dashboard depending on model type or user preference opens up a whole new world of user configurability – always a desirable feature for the car world. And the displays can also be used for a wide range of video applications. Video decoders and encoders are already being used in applications as diverse as rear cameras, proximity detection and security – as well as for displaying movies and TV.

By combining a high–performance graphics processor with video, engineers are now exploring powerful new applications such as augmented reality for head–up displays and navigation point–of–interest recognition. All this is now a practical, cost–effective reality, thanks to the mobile phone and computing industries bringing advanced graphics technologies to new and exciting price points that make so much sense for automotive product planners.

Imagination is also working with other industry leaders such as Navteq to develop next–generation navigation solutions that take advantage of these possibilities, as well as leading car manufacturers worldwide, to get these exciting new features into users' hands as quickly as possible.

High quality 3D, 2D and vector–graphics acceleration is rapidly becoming a 'must–have' technology for any navigation product. Driven by demands for next–generation UIs and realistic navigation views with stunning visual impact and high frame rate, designers now appreciate how many key automotive applications can benefit from using low–power, highly efficient graphics processors (GPUs). From navigation and 'backseat' gaming to increasing the usability of the dash­board, GPUs provide an increase in performance and quality while reducing power consumption and heat build–up.

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