Continental brings second-generation head-up displays to series 3 BMW

March 26, 2012 // By Christoph Hammerschmidt
BMW will integrate Continental's second-generation head-up display into its medium-class 3 series vehicle. This generation is smaller but offers more features compared to its predecessor which was integrated into the 5 series. Continental is already preparing the third generation. One of the ingredients will be augmented reality, the company hints.

Like in a fighter jet, the head-up display projects relevant information into the driver's (or the pilot's) field of vision. But while in a fighter the pilot sees an artificial horizon and target-related information, a BMW driver gets speed, navigation and traffic data in a virtual image that seems to appear about two meters in front of the driver. The rationale to implement such a high-tech device into a car is that it increases driving safety and reduces driver's distraction, Continental says.

The second generation of its head-up display is in production already since 2010 - in Audi's models A6 and A7. The integration into BMW's 3 series is the first time such a device is made available in a medium-class car. In order to accommodate the head-up display into the BMW, Continental had to reduce size and weight. At this opportunity, the engineers were able to reduce the LED count in the display from 128 to 15. Thus, they also reduced the power consumption which in turn could make it more attractive for designers of electrical vehicles - after all, in e-cars every milliampere of power consumption reduces the driving range, so power consumption should be as low as possible. 

For the new display, the engineers used white LEDs instead of colored ones. By color control mechanisms they are able to generate color images on the windscreen. They also could significantly increase the brightness of the virtual image.

The head-up display projects traffic relevant data into the driver's field of vision

Another new feature is that the display now can be adjusted to the driver's height - very useful if a car is used by more than one person. In order to adjust the display, the driver can actuate a stepper motor which in turn adjusts the inclination of the mirror within the optical path and thus moves the virtual image up or down. The arrangement of the optical