Thin-Film Transistor Displays are the new Virtual Cockpits

July 28, 2015 by Jennifer A. Diffley

Thin-film transistor displays are predicted to be the future of car displays. But they may be already overtaken by LCD quantum-dot displays.

Most talk of auto technology lately has revolved around the advent of autonomous vehicles, but little discussion is given to the more practical elements of user interfacing. A new report released by Research and Markets indicates that demand for heads-up displays have necessitated the inclusion of thin-film transistor diplays, and the demand for the technology is expected to reach 70 million units by 2016.

A thin-film transistor display.

“Consumer demand is driving the production of smarter and more efficient automobiles, requiring automotive displays that increase functionality and safety,” said Hiroshi Hayase, Vice President of Small/Medium Displays at NPD DisplaySearch.

In addition to helping decreased distracted driving by moving displays from the dashboard to the windshield, thin-film transistor displays have the ability to display more sophisticated features, such as rearview monitors, navigation, energy information, and audio and air-conditioning control.

However, all reports point to thin-film transistor displays only being included in higher-end car models. Because of this, once LCD quantum-dot technology's potential is realized, it may kill the thin-film transistor display. LCD quantum-dot technology delivers light on demand, like OLEDs, which makes them a more efficient alternative to thin-film transistor displays. They're also much cheaper than OLEDs while maintaining color accuracy and more vivid pictures.  If designers find a way to perfect LCD quantum-dot technology, it would deliver the same heads-up safety benefits as thin-film transistor displays while allowing consumers who can't afford high-end vehicles the same access to modern tech. 

The trick, then, is anticipating the benefits of LCD quantum-dot displays, perfecting them, and convincing auto manufacturers to make them the new automotive display standard.