The basic argument for curved TV screens states that the gently inward curve mimics the natural curvature of the human eye, enhancing peripheral vision and thus offering a more immersive experience for the viewer. It’s by no means certain that this advantage translates over to automotive instrument cluster displays, but we’ll soon find out now that Bosch has put the world’s first curved instrument cluster in the cockpit of a mass-production vehicle. The 12.3-in. curved instrument cluster will debut in the Innovision Cockpit of the new VW Touareg.
Beneath its surface, the screen combines a large number of digital displays, while taking up almost two centimeters (0.787 in.) less space than a non-curved screen of comparable size. Depending on what the driver wants to see at any given time, the screen is able to display large-area navigation maps, driver information, or the status of the vehicle assistance system.
“Drivers benefit from curved instrument clusters in terms of safety and convenience. At the same time, this type of display gives automotive manufacturers greater freedom and more space in the design of the cockpit,” says Steffen Berns, president of the Car Multimedia division.
Volkswagen is replacing analog display technology behind the steering wheel with a freely configurable, high-resolution, curved display. (Source: Bosch)
An intelligent control system concealed behind the cockpit on a control unit ensures that the driver always sees exactly the desired screen contents at a glance. There’s a choice, for example, between detailed information on the current journey, the navigation map, telephone contacts, or details on the playlist currently playing. Each piece of information can be displayed over the entire screen or shown in combination with other contents. Therefore, anyone who wants to display the navigation map and the telephone list in addition to the traditional speedometer can do so easily by making those selections using the multifunction steering wheel or the infotainment’s touchscreen.
It’s also possible to perform a targeted zoom into the navigation map directly on the instrument cluster. This novel feature also will debut in the Touareg’s Innovision Cockpit.
Bosch is particularly proud of the unit allowing the driver to detect indicator lights and warning signals much more effectively—even at the edge of the screen. This also gives it a clear advantage over the curved monitors at home in the living room, where only one person can sit at the optimum viewing angle at any one time.
Stringent demands are placed on vehicle displays in terms of quality and robustness—for example, the ability to withstand vibration and temperature fluctuations. In addition, the driver must be able to reliably read screen displays even when the sun is shining directly on the display.
According to Bosch, the new curved instrument cluster uses a special manufacturing process. In optical bonding, which is what this process is called, a thin liquid is used to bond the instrument display and glass directly to each other. Thanks to the optimal connection of the two components, the instrument cluster reflects more than four times less light. For the driver, this means that there’s virtually no glare and the display is rich in contrast and clear in both direct sunlight and darkness.
“The days of flat instrument displays are over,” proclaimed Bosch’s Berns. “With the world’s first curved instrument cluster, Bosch is opening up a new dimension in vehicle cockpits.”