cloud (storage) uploading and data sharing, allowing cars to talk with each other,
sharing info on road closures and detours, accident sights, traffic bottlenecks
and other road hazards.
Heads up for HUD
Sometimes called augmented reality,
we’re seeing windshields that can project
3D images, much like the way back-up
cameras can display guidelines for driving in reverse. The beauty here is that the
driver’s eyes never leave the road. Integrated Heads-up Displays (HUDs) will allow drivers to access critical information
beyond just speed and outside temperature. Soon, smart windshields will incorporate a number of safety features such as
issuing alerts for close obstacles like pedestrians or cyclists, safe braking distances, GPS guidance and mapping functions,
and weather and traffic updates.
Another safety-first initiative that will
eventually become standard is eye-tracking, or intelligence gathered by observing
the driver’s eye movements. A self-driving
or autonomous vehicle will be able to interpret if a driver has fallen asleep and will
guide the car safely off the road. Whether
this eye-tracking is embedded in glass or
in the dash remains to be seen, but it’s a
safe bet to know that a combination of advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS)
like this and features such as auto braking,
front wheel guidance and adaptive cruise
control, will roll out among the luxury
brands first before becoming standard.
The windshield as
SUVs are already being sold with built-in
Sensors and cameras
TV monitors to entertain rear-seat passen-
gers. Advances in glass technology will go
beyond just making glass thinner, stronger
and more lightweight. We will see glass of-
fering an immersive experience, project-
ing live TV, video on demand, social me-
dia chats and smartphone apps that can be
directly accessed on glass by using special
motion and optical sensors to turn stan-
dard glass into a touch sensitive surface.
Because of the emphasis on safety, design-
ers will look at using the steering wheel or
dashboard for activating features, per sta-
tus quo. As an interface, touch will most
likely take a back seat to voice-activated
prompts. Apple is naturally in the game,
working with Honda on versions of its Siri
voice-activated assistant. And Toyota and
Microsoft have teamed up to experiment
with gesture commands just like those
used by the Xbox Kinect gaming console.
within inches of glass
Within five years we’ll see sensors and mini
cameras become standard safety equipment beyond the early-adoptive luxury car
market. Already, basic sensors today alert
drivers of a passing vehicle entering a blind
spot. Other ADAS applications include
things like lane-departure warning alerts,
auto correction to keep wheels inside lane
markers, and collision avoidance. These are
incremental baby steps toward the mass acceptance of fully autonomous vehicles.
Driver assistance innovations may
pose legitimate insurance policy concerns during maintenance or repair time.
For sensors or cameras mounted close
or attached to a windshield, any replacement of that glass will require a factory-trained recalibration.
With so few autos on the road today
equipped with this technology, dealerships
and glass repair services will have to garner
the necessary training to adequately reset
these devices. Best in class service provid-
ers will be on the ready to mitigate any po-
tential risk these sensors or cameras may
impose for failing to function properly.
Say goodbye to wiper blades
In 2008, Italian designer Leonardo Fiora-vanti devised a self-cleaning and water-re-pelling nano-dust system into his prototype
Hindra vehicle. The new system eliminates
the need for wiper blades through the use
of advanced nanotechnology and aerodynamic principles that combine to ensure
clear visibility for drivers. Specialized coatings exist that can repel water, ice and oil,
but most agree these coatings will fade over
time given the harsh exposure of weather.
That’s why McLaren is testing a promising
technique of using high-frequency sound
waves on smart windshields to fend off the
With intelligent applications of auto
glass and the rush to market of ADAS
systems, it’s not a matter of “if” the technology becomes standard, but how soon.
Whatever the future brings, it certainly
looks bright from my window.
Robert J. Rosenfield is chairman/CEO of
Bowrail Group, a Boston-based investment management group that owns and
operates several businesses in the service and technology sectors including JN
Phillips Auto Glass, TeleGlass National,
Windshield Centers and StrategicClaims.
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