In-Car Screens Could Soon Be Almost Invisible


This technology could revolutionize vehicle interior design. 


Craig Cole/Roadshow

Displays are taking over our lives. Many of us work in front of computers all day, but we also have screens in our pockets, on our wrists and, of course, in our vehicles. Helping reduce visual clutter and distraction while driving, supplier company Continental developed something called the ShyTech Display, a screen that’s virtually invisible when not in use.

“Now displays don’t need to look black,” Arthur Brown, a user experience designer at Continental, said at an event earlier this month. “We can actually present them in a way where they can integrate with other hard trim in the vehicle interior.” What does this mean? Well, imagine a wood accent on your vehicle’s dashboard is also a screen. Images, graphics and animations can shine through when needed, but the display itself is completely invisible when not in use. It’s pretty cool stuff.

Yep, video plays just fine on this screen, too.


Craig Cole/Roadshow

The ShyTech Display feature an LCD screen with a matrix backlight and a special cosmetic layer optically bonded on top. “So, we’re shining through a decorative print,” explained Brown, a layer that’s designed for both appearance and haptics. Depending on what designers want, that print can look and feel like woodgrain, carbon fiber or even leather. Aside from their near-invisibility when not in use, compared to conventional screens, these should also have less glare and fewer reflections.

Demonstrated in person at a small media event, Continental’s ShyTech Display works far better than you might expect. No, images aren’t as crisp as on your brand-new iPhone, but considering the light is shining through a translucent layer, it’s remarkably good; graphics seem to float in the middle of a piece of trim. And of course, when the LCD is turned off, you have absolutely no idea there’s a screen there, though voice controls or proximity sensors could activate them.

A range of different finishes is available, not just imitation wood.


Craig Cole/Roadshow

Many automakers are exploring pillar-to-pillar, dashboard-sized screens, which certainly have a wow factor to them, but we may get to a point where it’s all too much. ShyTech Displays could help prevent sensory overload and keep vehicle interiors from looking like the TV section of a Best Buy. You know, with screens mounted everywhere.

ShyTech Displays should be robust enough for automotive use, meaning they can withstand vibration and impacts for many years as well as temperature extremes, from baking desert heat to arctic cold. Continental expects this technology will launch sometime in 2023, so look for it in vehicles sooner than later.


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