Functional surfaces enable innovative cockpit designs

June 11, 2018 // By Christoph Hammerschmidt
The human-machine interface in cars has changed dramatically in recent years, and this evolution will continue in the future. Automotive supplier Continental has shown how it envisages the future of the cockpit.

It is a look into the future of the automobile: illuminated keys emerge from the surface of a dashboard as soon as the driver's hand approaches the surface. Where barely smooth imitation leather provided a tidy appearance, three-dimensional, illuminated keys now appear. Once the driver has activated the desired one, he senses a short impulse to confirm. As soon as he withdraws his hand, the keys disappear behind the surface without a trace. With these "morphing controls", Continental aims to reconcile conflicting requirements for human-machine interaction: to make as many functions as easy to use as possible with as few keys as possible.

Continental's surface specialists have developed stretchable and translucent materials for morphing control that convey the look and feel of artificial leather. The foil used allows precise and contour-accurate imaging of the illuminated symbols with high lighting intensity and homogeneous illumination at the same time. When deactivated, both the symbols and the mechanical elements become completely invisible and impalpable to the occupants.


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