Microvision, a company from Redmond is developing efficient, compact head-up displays (HUDs) that relays information onto the driver’s view of the windshield. Information like the car's current speed or the distance of the vehicle ahead which helps the driver make important decisions, will be displayed. At present, the technology is available only in a few concept cars, but with further advancements it could be more common.
Major carmakers in Detroit are planning to incorporate the technology into their vehicles by 2016. These image projectors are made from semiconductor lasers and a microscopic mirror, materials that make the technology too expensive for commercial cars. Microvision’s image projector consists of three lasers— green, red and blue and a one millimeter wide mirror. The laser emits light at different intensities through the mirror. Moving on its axis, it scans horizontally and vertically the colors, mixing them up to produce the final colored pixels onto the windshield.
In Microvision’s technology, one pixel is illuminated at a time in the process which saves energy. Also, the use of a single mirror engenders the device to be cheaper, simpler and smaller. Due to the lasers’ clean, saturated colors, the image is clearer and more vivid with a higher contrast ratio even during the day. Final cost hinges on the price of modern green lasers; traditionally green laser assembly has always been complex. Many key players such as Nichia, Soraa and Osram Opto Semiconductors are endeavoring to manufacture cheaper pure-green lasers. With the slow increase in production, laser costs should decrease to a tenth of current levels by the year’s end.
Good news for Microvision who already has a lead over its competitors. Its display technology that promises a high image quality and yet to be achieved by others. Since the company was the first to propose the new approach, it will reap the benefits in the HUD market. Consumers are very interested in a least distracting way to receive driving information.