Technology company Continental, in partnership with Silicon Valley company Leia, Inc., announced the development of the Natural 3D Lightfield Instrument Cluster, an innovative and revolutionary cockpit solution that will bring “as you see it” visibility that will enable better driver depth of perception without the need for adaptive eyewear.
The new Lightfield cockpit is an evolutionary step in the design of the human-machine interaction within automotive vehicles. Lightfield displays are the next generation of medium allowing not only the comfortable perception of 3D depth, but also the rendering of highlights, sparkles and other complex light effects. The technology enables information to be safely presented to the driver in real-time, allowing drivers to become more comfortable and intuitive when interacting with their vehicles. Passengers in the front and back seats are also able to share the 3D experience with the driver. The new system is slated for series production by 2022.
“One of automotive industry’s greatest challenges is to develop intelligent concepts for human-machine interaction. To create solutions that enhance the driver experience and allow the driver to simply and effectively interact with the vehicle without becoming distracted from the road,” explained Jens Brandt, head of business unit Instrumentation & Driver HMI, Continental North America. “The new Lightfield display not only brings the third dimension of the highest quality into the vehicle, but the innovative technology also creates a new dimension of comfort and safety. Our solution provides vehicle manufacturers with the ability to enhance the driver experience.”
Continental and Leia will also look for additional opportunities for drivers to engage activities such as video calling, internet browsing or watching television and movies. Visualizing content on a wide display specially designed for in-car visual comfort will be more refined and enjoyable than using one’s smartphone. It will also offer the opportunity to leverage internal or external camera systems for video calling or augmented reality functions, a feature that the partnership intends to explore.
“The car is clearly the next frontier for mobile,” said David Fattal, Leia Inc. co-founder and CEO. “To us, it’s a bigger, more immersive version of a smartphone with full 3D awareness of its environment. The vehicle is a logical place to deploy our growing Lightfield ecosystem of immersive gaming, video streaming, social sharing, and even e-commerce activities.” Leia’s Lightfield technology does not need the head-tracker camera to function, which gives Continental’s 3D display an advantage in cost and practicality. The 3D-image produced by the Lightfield display is made up of a total of eight perspectives of the same object that subtly vary according to the point-of-view through blocking or refracting light.
Continental’s new 3D Lightfield application comprising Leia’s DLB™ (Diffractive Lightfield Backlighting) technology offers the next level to conventional 3D displays and enables a crystal-clear screen, even when sunlight is shining into the display.
Leia’s Lightfield technology made its commercial debut in the U.S. through smartphone displays with AT&T and Verizon. The experience consists of the Lightfield display and a comprehensive amount of automotive use-case applications provided by Continental.
Leia currently offers a creative toolkit to convert or create content to the Lightfield format, with automatic settings to ensure visual comfort, which includes: warnings from the driver assistant system illustrated in 3D; directions from the navigation system clearly displayed; graphic display of a parking assistant – such as the 360-degree bird view assistant; and, enhances greetings by the vehicle system using 3D logo animations.
The collaboration will augment Leia’s content platform LeiaLoft™ to enable car manufacturers and third-party developers to easily create “holographic” apps for future vehicles. The Automotive Software Development Kit (SDK) will give developers access to the car’s interior and exterior environment in full 3D and enable a host of applications from holographic navigation, park assist or augmented reality on the digital cluster or central information display.
“We are thrilled to tailor our Lightfield platform for the automotive industry. By leveraging specific sensors’ data, we will deliver premium applications and bring the mobile ecosystem into the car to create an enhanced driver’s experience,” said Pierre-Emmanuel Evreux, Leia Inc. Leia co-founder and president.
The collaboration with Leia Inc. was initiated by co-pace, Continental’s start-up organization. Through Continental’s Corporate Venture Capital team, the commitment was further cemented with a minority stake investment. Co-pace enables partnerships of innovative external start-up companies with Continental.