In the year 2019, we are living in the future that we used to only dream of. The hoverboard and Mcfly sneakers from the film “Back to the Future Part II” (1989) have now become a reality. Autonomous driving, amphibious vehicles, and flying cars (drones), the standard elements of science fiction, have also been invented. These figments of our childhood imaginations have come true in such a short period of time.
Drones, the Flying Technology of Future
Among these ‘items from the future’ that combine various technologies, automobiles are certainly one of the complex products in common use today. In the early days of the automobile industry, mechanical engineering was most important. To obtain the long-term durability of engines, material dynamics, thermodynamics, and kinetic dynamics were considered the core technologies. Stable operation was what allowed cars to become so widely accepted. In the late 1970s, ECU was developed for the effective use of engines. This began the prevalence of electronic devices on automobiles.
Now, in the twenty-first century, we have cars equipped with cutting-edge devices. A wide range of electronics and IT has been applied effectively to cars, such as collision warning, lane keeping assistance, cruise control, and navigation. Some may still say that the core technology of automobiles is the engine and mechanical engineering, but now that the manufacturing technology has reached its peak and the differentiation between producers is minimal, it is the electronics/IT that determine the advancement of automobiles. Today’s cars are equipped with multiple displays and electronics, which are indistinguishable from computers. For my first column, I aim to write in plain language about why OLED is applied to automobiles and how is it better in comparison to LCD.
The interest in automobile displays is increasing day by day. The analog gauges that used to show speed and RPM are disappearing, replaced by displays that indicate the same information. Displays are increasingly applied to the dashboard, infotainment screen, and center fascia. The backseat displays for children and passengers are also diversified and have been popularized these days.
Why do we see more displays in cars? The answer is easy: it’s simple and convenient. Think about all the buttons that used to be everywhere. When I was little, I couldn’t even change the temperature in my father’s car, no matter how hot or cold it was. All the control buttons reminded me of an airplane dashboard, making it complicated to remember which one was for what. But recent cars have included all these miscellaneous buttons into the display screen. This is not only convenient for the user to control, but also future-oriented and trendy in terms of the design. To the manufacturers, it provides a huge added value of simplifying the assembly process. In other words, car manufacturers worldwide can’t help but utilize such beneficial displays.
Wide Range of Displays on Cars
Let’s turn to OLED. Since you’ve come to OLED SPACE and are reading this at the moment, you probably have an idea of what OLED and LCD are. I’ll omit a detailed explanation about their structures.
As you can see in the picture above, the biggest strength of OLED is its spontaneous emission. Because the panel itself emits light, the back of the panel doesn’t require optical sheets or BLU (Back Light Unit). What’s the advantage of removing the BLU? First, it makes the display much slimmer. It’s also easier to implement a curved display. Does this ring a bell? That’s right, having more flexibility with curved spaces is widely applicable for automobile display, more so than for other household appliances. As such, electric vehicles, hydrogen fuel cell cars, and autonomous vehicles with their futuristic designs will be equipped with OLED.
According to IHS Market, a research institution, the size of the automobile display market will reach 22 trillion KRW by 2022. The display technology is constantly evolving to occupy this treasure trove. When I participated in CES 2019 as an engineer, I noticed that the employees from the world’s top automobile manufacturers paid keen attention to automobile displays produced with OLED. They were quite impressed by what they saw. In a few years, when these technologies emerge in the world, I wish you would remember this article. I’m sure you’ll be amazed by the products. I certainly hope you will own that car as well.