Huawei and Infineon Tackle Automotive AR Heads-up Display Challenges
Augmented reality technology has been a focus for all sorts of technology, but what about its use in heads-up displays for vehicles? What are the challenges and who are innovating in this space?
When most people think of augmented reality (AR), the first thing that comes to mind is likely smart glasses and head-mounted displays. However, AR is finding a lot of applications outside of this, including on your smartphone and even in your automobile.
Development and projection of AR HUD technology. Image used courtesy of Texas Instruments
Automotive AR heads-up displays (AR HUDs) are a key area of interest and research, with many companies working to bring the technology to life. Last week, two advances for the field were released, one from Huawei and one from Infineon.
This article will dive into some challenges facing this new technology and what companies like Huawei and Infineon are bringing to the table.
Challenges with AR HUD
From an optical and electrical engineering perspective, AR HUDs pose some significant design challenges.
One of the major challenges here is processing and graphics alignment. An AR HUD is a technology that aims to read in data from various onboard sensors, which then processes that data, generates it, and finally displays graphics aligned with the rapidly changing environment, all in real-time.
Doing all of this requires processing hardware, like GPUs, high-resolution display technologies, adjustable mirrors for directing light, eye-tracking cameras to follow the user, and much more. On top of this, things need to be integrated into a space-constrained fashion to fit in the dashboard.
Example of an AR HUD system. Image used courtesy of Lee et al
A second design challenge is power consumption. In a HUD, the lumens required are directly proportional to the field of view (FOV) and eyebox area (i.e., doubling either will require double the lumens). This challenge poses a tradeoff, as a large eyebox area and wide FOV are desirable; however, they come at the cost of increased power consumption and corresponding thermal challenges. This tradeoff has created the need for efficient imaging technology, of which digital light processing (DLP) technology has become very popular.
Despite these challenges, as the movement grows for AR HUD, more companies are trying to find ways to make this technology a firmer reality.
Infineon’s AR HUD Chipset
In an effort for smaller and more efficient imaging systems, Infineon released a new MEMS scanner chipset.
The new chipset integrates both a MEMS mirror and MEMS driver, which allows the device to come in a small footprint and low power. Further, the chipset integrates a novel tilting mirror, which Infineon says could pave the way for entirely new laser beam scanner (LBS) technology.
Altogether the chipset hopes to enable AR micro-projectors which are small, light in weight, and low power. This would allow for more efficient imaging technology in AR HUDs for both automotive and head-mounted displays.
Infineon isn't the only company recently focusing on AR HUDs, Huawei has just debuted its latest HUD technology.
Huawei’s Debuts New HUD
Last week, the other big news regarding AR HUDs was Huawei’s debut of its newest automotive AR HUD solution at IAA MOBILITY 2021.
Huawei’s new AR HUD system diagram. Image used courtesy of Huawei
The new AR HUD offers a 13° x 5° FOV, allowing for a 70-inch image to be displayed at a distance of 7.5 m in front of the driver.
Overall, the system leverages a DLP technology to deliver an over 100 PPD (pixels per degree) full-HD display, having a compact size of ~10 L. Further, Huawei claims that its HUD uses a unique optical path design and algorithm technologies to improve image definition and eliminate dizziness caused by ghosting.
In terms of application and functionality, Huawei’s HUD claims it can provide:
- AR navigation information
- Detection of surrounding vehicles and pedestrians
- Vision augmentation in low-visibility environments (i.e., night, rain)
All in all, AR HUD technology is well poised to improve driver safety and reinvent how we drive our vehicles. While there are certainly challenges, companies like Huawei and Infineon are working to overcome these, and the results are certainly promising.
Interested in other AR advancements? Read more in the articles down below.