GM is working on MediaGlass-type head-up display

March 23, 2010
A windshield coated with transparent phosphors and scanned by a UV laser is the basis for a full-windshield head-up display (HUD) being developed at General Motors.

Warren, MI--A windshield coated with transparent phosphors and scanned by a UV laser is the basis for a full-windshield head-up display (HUD) being developed at General Motors. (A HUD for a car projects images onto the windshield, displaying information to aid the driver in some way.) In collaboration with Carnegie Mellon University and The University of Southern California, as well as other institutions, GM is creating a HUD that will combine night vision, navigation, and camera-based sensor technologies to improve visibility and object-detection ability.

"Let's say you're driving in fog," says Thomas Seder, group lab manager-GM R&D. "We could use the vehicle's infrared cameras to identify where the edge of the road is and the lasers could 'paint' the edge of the road onto the windshield so the driver knows where the edge of the road is."

Displaying dangers, reading signs
Much smaller and more rudimentary HUD systems are already available on the GMC Acadia, Chevrolet Corvette, Buick LaCrosse and Cadillac STS; these project the car's speed and a few other parameters onto a small portion of the windshield. In the new GM concept, the HUD system is large and sophisticated enough that it could alert drivers to potential dangers that may exist outside of the normal field of vision, such as children playing or motorcycles passing.

The HUC could also be combined with automated sign-reading technology (similar to the Opel Eye system that debuted on the 2009 Opel Insignia) to alert the driver if he or she is driving over the posted speed limit, or if there's impending construction or other potential problems ahead, or even to read overhead traffic signs to help with directions.

Similar to MediaGlass
While GM did not reveal details on its technology, it appears similar to that created by SuperImaging (Fremont, CA), which makes something called MediaGlass--a transparent phosphor-coated film that can be adhered to large expanses of glass. One type of MediaGlass is a two-color film that glows blue under 405 nm light and red under 365 to 375 nm light; another type emits white light when excited by 405 nm light.

SuperImaging also produces the TransPlay laser-projector system, which, when paired with MediaGlass, could create a complete HUD-type display, with the lack of a green phosphor the only thing preventing it from being a true RGB system.

About the Author

John Wallace | Senior Technical Editor (1998-2022)

John Wallace was with Laser Focus World for nearly 25 years, retiring in late June 2022. He obtained a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering and physics at Rutgers University and a master's in optical engineering at the University of Rochester. Before becoming an editor, John worked as an engineer at RCA, Exxon, Eastman Kodak, and GCA Corporation.

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