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Laurel Thoennes @ Quality Digest


Keep Your Eyes on the Road and Hands Upon the Wheel—for Now

Driving may soon be ‘the ultimate user experience,’ but will you get there in one piece?

Published: Thursday, February 2, 2017 - 12:03

Automakers, suppliers, and tech companies are in a flurry to transform vehicles into connected devices and distribute the content to drivers and passengers. Corning Inc.’s transformation plans include using its Gorilla Glass to turn windshields into billboards.

What better way to tout Gorilla Glass’s potential for automotive use than to build a car equipped with it? The Corning Inc. Connected Car premiered at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas. It wowed the crowd, featuring both a windshield and dashboard with augmented reality capabilities. There was touch-screen steering (there goes keeping your hands upon the “wheel”); a full dash display (which was playing a video); and a “floating” center console that provides “fully integrated connectivity” for the driver and passengers.

And if that wasn’t enough, the sun roof and rear window can change from clear glass to opaque.

Corning Inc.’s Connected Car equipped with Gorilla Glass. Photo by Bloomberg.

Much like the heads-up displays currently in new cars, Corning’s augmented windshield will provide data such as traffic navigation (e.g., the speed and location of a vehicle in your blind spot), car behavior (e.g., “your door is ajar”), and maps with directions to the nearest gas station when you’re low on fuel. But the data will be  superimposed onto the road in front of the driver, not on a display located on the dashboard near the windshield.

“This is exactly the sort of thing the high-end car makers are promoting as part of their highly integrated, immersive ‘cockpit’ concepts,’” says Richard York, an ARM Holdings chip designer responsible for automotive sales.

“We want to have our direct customer relationship delivering premium services to them and being their direct contact,” BMW’s head of R&D, Klaus Froehlich, told reporters at CES. “That’s the clear goal for a premium car manufacturer.”

This sounds pretty good; it’s all about the safety and welfare of the vehicle occupants. Isn’t that worth a little distraction for the driver? Well, no, because people  usually sway toward too much of a good thing. That thing includes advertising; carmakers prefer to call it “data-driven services.” Estimates from McKinsey & Co. have mobile and data-driven services in autos generating $1.5 trillion by 2030. Apparently tech companies and automakers have no problem with distracting drivers—not when they’re talking trillions.

According to John Butler, a Bloomberg Intelligence analyst, “Owning the inside of the car is critical; it’s really where the money is made. The real value is locked up in the ad opportunity.”

Automakers are considering the ability to push content such as video in front of passengers to generate more revenue from each vehicle. Panasonic boasts it already has the technology to order and pay for food via restaurant ads on your windshield. Corning has partnered with glass manufacturer, Saint Gobain, and announced it is ready to produce Gorilla Glass automotive windshields for production cars today.

What about getting there in one piece?

Click here for larger image.

Does anyone else feel a douse of distress about safety?

No worries. Automotive research and development teams are “going to bring the safety aspect of the vehicles” into the augmented reality products.

I feel better already.

I suppose this won’t be an issue when there are more autonomous vehicles. Once we are comfortable traveling driverlessly (if ever), we won’t have to look at the windshield. We’ll be able to sit back and relax because our cars are smart; they’re connected; they are IoT leisure lounges for our commuting pleasure.

I wonder if that leisure suit still fits.


About The Author

Laurel Thoennes @ Quality Digest’s picture

Laurel Thoennes @ Quality Digest

Laurel Thoennes is an editor at Quality Digest. She has worked in the media industry for 33 years at newspapers, magazines, and UC Davis—the past 25 years with Quality Digest.



Wouldn’t it be great if after 25,000 miles the windshield was what failed and NOT you transmission, engine, or drive train?  But wait when you new car breaks down it will gladly display an advertisement for the local service center and with ease link to your bank account sucking your hard earned money.

I say stop spending so much time and money getting my vehicle to open the garage, unlock the front door and kick on the oven when I pull up. I don't care how much junk a vehicle can connect to, upload, download, and talk with! you want to take the market by surpise and out sell any competition? Do you really?? THEN BUILD A DEPENDABLE VEHIVLE AND STAND BEHIND IT 100%!!!

On the subject of turning OUR vehicles into a mobile billboard, you can deposit the advertising fees directly into our accounts. Otherwise we won’t be able to afford the repairs on the vehicle portion of these rolling spam displays.

Content on the Windshield

Just what we need.  I can see it now, the local "strip" will be running live ads to passing cars and like Odysseus and the Sirens we'll have a Skeleton Coast of wrecked automobiles.

Battery powered?

Nice work Laurel, thanks...and to think there are clowns out there wanting to make it all battery powered..heaven help us...

the good in the bad

Well if they want to add more electronics they are forced to make better batteries and more power conscious electronic choices.

Just think of all the time wasted preaching about the environment and the affects of pollution. After all that it will be advertising that motivated businesses. Going to need more electricity to keep those commercials going.