GM envisions future where entire windshields become displays

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A newly surfaced patent filing from General Motors presents the automaker’s vision for turning entire windshields into augmented-reality displays.

Head-up displays already project things like speed readouts into the driver’s field of view, but this patent application, which was published by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) on April 30, after being filed by GM in 2022, details something more elaborate.

Augmented reality encompasses a variety of imagery that can be projected, in the style of a head-up display, to give the driver greater environmental awareness, GM said in the application. But current hardware has a fairly narrow field-of-view range that makes it hard to show things in the driver’s peripheral field of view, according to the automaker.

A wider field of vision could have several potential benefits, GM claims. It could, for example, be used to alert the driver to an animal crossing the roads before it’s directly in front of the vehicle. And widening the field of view could allow for a head-up display to be used for “primary instruments,” something that isn’t possible with the narrow field of view afforded by current head-up displays, GM noted in the application.

General Motors augmented reality windshield patent image

To address this problem, GM proposes using two image projectors, each aimed at a different part of the windshield. Images from the two projectors would intermingle and create one continuous display from one edge of the windshield to the other.

GM isn’t the only automaker thinking along these lines. While we haven’t seen a corresponding patent application, Nissan design boss Alfonso Albaisa told Motor Authority in a recent interview that eventually the “windshield will be your screen.” Toyota showed its “Window To The World” augmented reality concept back in 2011, and recent concept cars from Mercedes-Benz and Volkswagen have featured similar displays. Apple also investigated an augmented reality windshield before cancelling its EV project.

While none of the companies mentioned above have announced anything for production, BMW has said its upcoming Neue Klasse generation of EVs will feature displays that span the windscreen.

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