Holographic Dash Displays Are Coming to Your Next Car
- Head-up displays are about to get a makeover, as manufacturers like GM, Stellantis, and Hyundai invest in the future of holographic technology.
- Specifically, Envisics is set to produce augmented-reality, holographic HUDs for brands looking to enhance road safety by keeping drivers’ eyes on the road.
- Second-generation HUDs will soon appear in new models from Jaguar Land Rover and GM, including the 2024 Cadillac Lyriq.
Head-up displays aren’t new, with cars as old as the 1988 Oldsmobile Cutlass displaying information on the windshield, and they are increasingly found in mainstream vehicles. A recent OEM investment of $50 million in augmented-reality dash displays could end up leaving the traditional HUD behind.
At least Stellantis, General Motors, Hyundai, and even Jaguar Land Rover are betting on it, as all of these manufacturers are now strategic shareholders in Envisics, a UK company dedicated to producing holographic displays. Envisics is just one of many technology partners employed by these brands, but it might be the one that drivers will interact with the most. Specifically, the company is set to produce Augmented-Reality Head-Up Displays (AR HUDs), in an effort to further increase driver awareness and road safety.
Based on graphics provided by Envisics, the incoming holographic HUDs will display speed, direction, local landmarks, and potential collision points. Additionally, the technology outlines pedestrians and cyclists to help drivers identify them more easily. One graphic even shows the system identifying hazardous off-road obstacles, such as poles and bodies of water. These features are the result of years of engineering by researchers at the University of Cambridge starting in 2004, who eventually worked with Envisics to bring the product to market.
Envisics says augmented reality and automotive technology are intersecting rapidly, with an expected AR-market compound annual growth rate of 28%. The company expects a total of 1.6 million AR HUD units to be available in 2022 (most of them from Envisics), while it projects around 19.1 million units will be available by 2032.
These are lofty numbers for a company that just recently received a $500 million valuation, but Envisics does have the technology to back it up. It rolled out a laser holographic HUD for Jaguar Land Rover back in 2015, with around 150,000 units receiving the first-generation technology. These head-up displays are functionally similar to the new ones heading to production shortly, but the technology was considered somewhat revolutionary at the time.
With the exception of Envisics-equipped vehicles, most HUDs are image-based, meaning a virtual image is projected from a microdisplay onto the windshield. Holographic HUDs, however, use custom-developed spatial light modulators that allow for a higher-resolution, more reliable display of information. By design, these holographic displays are more dynamic, meaning it moves with the road ahead of them. This also means the holographic display will continue to function even if a pixel or two is missing.
Despite these hefty OEM investments, only one brand has committed to a model that will feature the new Envisics technology. Cadillac says the 2024 Lyriq EV will feature an Envisics AR HUD, as the company focuses on “adding a second plane of graphics that gives drivers more immersive information integrated within their natural field of vision.”
Stellantis and Hyundai have yet to specify which of their products will receive the displays, though it’s likely that such high-tech features will be reserved for their respective luxury and EV offerings.
Will augmented-reality head-up displays make the roads safer? Share your thoughts in the comments below.