Full-Colour Automotive Holographic Display System

January 2020

Scotland-based Ceres Holographics, a developer of thin-film Holographic Optical Elements (HOEs) for next-generation transparent display (TD) and augmented reality head-up-display (AR-HUD) solutions, recently announced its latest TD prototype system for automotive applications.

The latest prototype includes full-colour display, wide field of view (FOV) and small form factor. This latest development combines the unique advantages of aligning Ceres’ HOE design, digital mastering, and replication equipment with the emerging class of automotive Digital Light Processing (DLP) technology from Texas Instruments.

Founded in 2009, Ceres Holographics uses its proprietary technology to design, digitally master, and replicate next-generation HOEs for new TD and augmented reality HUD systems.

The company has extensive knowledge of photopolymer films, in particular over 15 years’ experience of Covestro’s Bayfol® HX photopolymer, for which it helped to advance the formulation and performance. The company has in-house expertise in photonics, light guiding and produces optical systems using thin-film HOEs for mass-market applications in automotive, transportation, aerospace and wearable technology. Ceres also has mastering capabilities and is developing it volume replication capabilities as briefly highlighted below.

Digital and analogue mastering

Ceres’ design and origination system creates digital master holograms pixel-by-pixel, from a computer generated data set generated using proprietary technology for volume holograms. The masters can vary in size from a few square cm up to A2 sheet size in Bayfol HX photopolymer. In addition, analogue mastering and recording capabilities are also available for high-performance virtual image HOEs for AR applications.

Replication for volume production

The company has the capability to perform high-quality replication of all types of holograms, almost 6,000 times faster than the digital mastering process, using flat-bed systems for low volume replication of high-performance HOEs for system prototype development requirements. However, to satisfy the requirements of producing photopolymer HOEs in the volumes and formats required by the automotive industry, Ceres is currently adapting/developing its replication machinery to work on a continuous roll-to-roll basis.

This development has received €1.4 million funding from the European Union’s (EU) Horizon 2020 SME (small, medium enterprise) research and innovation program to accelerate the development of the manufacturing technology and industrialisation of the film integration process into windshields. To date, Ceres has secured €6.1 million in funding through both private investors and the EU’s Horizon 2020 program.

Full-colour holographic transparent display system

The latest transparent display development not only showcases Ceres’ digitally mastered HOEs capabilities. It also facilitates features such as over-the-air updates for reconfigurable cluster layout and driver and passenger autonomous views to improve both driver and passenger safety and comfort.

Commenting on the latest developments Andy Travers, Chief Executive Officer of Ceres Holographics said: ‘the automotive industry is undergoing a massive paradigm shift towards electric and autonomous vehicles that’s fundamentally altering the driving and passenger experience and fuelling demand for low-cost, high-performance transparent display and AR-HUD systems. We are rolling out full-colour, in-car transparent display applications on the front, side and rear car windows that are powered by Ceres HOEs, delivering optical power into car glazing illuminated with projectors using Texas Instruments (TI) automotive digital micromirror devices (DMDs). By combining Ceres’ precision digitally mastered HOEs with the TI DLP5530-Q1 chipset, we dramatically reduce the projector package size while maximising the end display performance’.

Tobias Nass, DLP Automotive Manager at Texas Instruments, added: ‘traditionally, the size of optic-based transparent display and augmented reality head-up displays has been too large to be widely used across the automotive industry. But now, with the combination of DLP automotive technology and holographic optical films, developers can solve the number one challenge for augmented reality HUDs or transparent windscreen displays and realise a smaller projector package size that’s easier to integrate into their cars.’

The future

To date, Ceres’ HOE technology has been successfully demonstrated in prototype cars with HOEs integrated inside full-size windscreens, but only with modified consumer projectors. In the future Ceres will focus on producing HOE designs with projectors using the TI‘s DLP5530-Q1 chipset for new in-car display applications.

The company is also currently engaged in commercial development programs with several global automotive original equipment manufacturers, windshield interlayer and lamination partners and ‘tier one’ suppliers who are all targeting start of production between 2022 and 2025.

www.ceresholographics.com

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