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Virtual Image Holographic Optical Elements for Windscreens, Enabling the Next Generation of Automobile Head-up Displays

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - VIEW-AHEAD (Virtual Image Holographic Optical Elements for Windscreens, Enabling the Next Generation of Automobile Head-up Displays)

Reporting period: 2020-07-01 to 2021-03-31

The objective of the project is to extend Ceres in-house, low-volume replication technology to copy master Holographic Optical Elements (HOE) into the blank film, such that a viable manufacturing technology is available for industrial partners to manufacture higher volumes of HOEs in the large format film sizes required for automotive windshield integration. Furthermore, during the project the first outputs, information and samples, will be used to assist the industrial partners to develop the windshield integration processes.
Head-up Displays (HUDs) and Transparent Displays represent the next generation of information display in cars. Every major automotive manufacturer (OEM) is seeking low-cost, compact displays that can display driver and passenger information.
However, existing solutions based on conventional technology can generally not meet OEM requirements. Using current technology, a HUD system that would meet the OEMs requirements would be too bulky for all but the largest vehicles and prohibitively expensive.
One viable solution recently considered by OEMs, due to the emergence of new material technology, is to create or replace part of the complex HUD optics with a photopolymer Holographic Optical Element (HOE) laminated within a vehicle windshield. This dramatically reduces the size of the HUD unit, allowing high specification HUDs to be fitted to any vehicle. The new material also makes alternative Transparent Display types possible with even smaller projector units. However, for both potential solutions, there has not been the supporting credible design, mastering and replication technology which the industry needs.
Ceres, a holographic technology pioneer has developed the much-needed technology to enable this new industry. With its in-house software and digitally controlled pixel-wise mastering technology, it has brought to market a viable Computer-Aided Design (CAD) approach to HOE design and mastering enabling it to service multiple OEM customers in a repeatable and cost-effective manner. Ceres has also developed the necessary replication technology such that master HOEs, once designed to an application's requirements, can be reproduced. Ceres primary customers, major European OEMs, have successfully demonstrated the viability of our holographic technology in full-size windscreen laminated prototypes. They are now so excited by the technology’s potential that they have a stated aim to fit at least 2 million cars with either Transparent Display systems or 1st generation HUDs across their vehicle ranges by 2025. Our prospective customers asked for volume manufacture of the finished windshields to be demonstrated before end 2021.
The overall objective of the VIEW-AHEAD project is the replication of multiple HOE copy masters on a continuous R2R basis at a copy film speed >50 per hour onto a full width (1100mm) section of copy film. HOEs Copied and Positioned correctly on the photopolymer film.
Work with key European based partners in interlayer and glass lamination business to assist the lamination process for HOEs. Advance the lamination process such that discrete HOEs can be made invisible in windshield or full-width section of the film which is laminated successfully into the windshield.
Demonstration of HOE based HUD systems in-vehicle meeting automotive requirements. Transparent display (TD) system as simple with projector volume <1l; and demonstrated future potential for AR-HUD system with a volume of <6l, FOV of > 12°x6°
Establish critical mass and cooperation with key stakeholders in the automotive HUD market. Involvement of optical manufacturers for LEDs/lasers and projection unit developers in R&D, development of prototypes, and ongoing specification work. Contracts and letters of intent from prospective windshield/interlayer/automotive partners.
During the second reporting period the View-Ahead project has moved from the design phase to the build phase. The machine base build has commenced at the subcontractor and the optical head was completed at Ceres Holographics labs. During this process several of the significant technical challenges were resolved including a successful 1st RGB Holographic Optical element copy, using the View-Ahead optical head. This utilised the latest scanning technology on a cylindrical copy drum where the resulting hologram was a significant step forward in performance and copy speed from our existing replication technology.

As the machine base build nears completion Ceres have prepared a new facility for the installation and commissioning of the View-Ahead machine. Based in central Scotland the new facility has sufficient area to be the long-term home for the machine and support future expansion.

A further notable step forward during the second reporting period was the integration of a HOE into a full-size automotive windshield. This work was completed by our integration partner Eastman Chemicals utilising a viable automotive manufacturing process.

There has been significant customer traction during the period with the highlight being a proof of concept project with a major automotive OEM for a Transparent Display application. During Period 2 Ceres have followed the TI engagement by announcing strategic partnerships with Covestro (Holographic Film Supplier) and TQ Technology (LED Projector company) who is now working to supply Automotive LED Projectors to work in conjunction with our unique Holographic Transparent Display.
VIEW-AHEAD will enable the volume production of HOEs, allowing automotive manufacturers to fit High-performance Transparent Displays and HUDs throughout their entire range, in turn, offering added differentiation and safety to their vehicles for the benefit of their customers. Beyond the benefit to the OEMs, and customers, the most significant direct economic benefit will come to windshield interlayer manufacturers and laminators and tier 1 HUD suppliers who will add value to their product.
Associated market opportunities will also be created for Automotive Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) want to project key vehicle information onto the windshield just below and into the line of sight of a driver. Every major automotive OEM is in the process of developing or identifying new Transparent Display (TD) technology and Head-up Displays (HUDs) technologies to deliver three key benefits:
1) Safety: Driver distraction is a contributing factor in 80% of all traffic accidents and a major factor in 3,500 deaths each year in the US [NHTSA].Modern cars provide more information than ever to the driver, most of it through visual dashboard displays. It takes a good driver about 1 second to look at the instrument cluster, register it and look back at the road.
2) Utility: With a wide field of View HUD, information can be overlaid exactly where it is needed, informing drivers of hazards or navigation information more effectively. This also opens up the possibility of advanced functions such as Augmented Reality (AR-HUD) far-field HUDs for navigation and night vision augmentation
3) Self-driving vehicles: The auto industry see line-of-sight Transparent Displays and HUDs as crucial to maintaining driver engagement, comfort and confidence during the introduction of self-driving cars. They are also seen as a way to deliver a new user experience and also essential to new business models being developed by automotive OEMs, such as Mobility as a Service (MaaS).
Transparent Display in Automotive Windshield
Optical Head sub assembly
Side window display from Ceres Holographics
HOE Replication Machine Base - Copy Section
HUD Sample in Windscreen
3D Model of Machine base