Audio, ‘haptics’ tech could improve smart dashboards
Two unexpected benefits of Corning® Gorilla® Glass could someday help improve your car’s sound system while making it easier for you to find controls on a smooth dashboard touchscreen without looking at it.
It’s all part of some new Gorilla Glass applications that researchers at the Corning West Tehnology Center are exploring.
And while it’s still in the early stages, says Tim Orsley of the center’s business development team, designers and others in the auto interior supply chain are increasingly intrigued by the potential of this new Gorilla Glass double-play.
Gorilla Glass speakers
Prototypes of Gorilla Glass audio speakers have been in the works for several years, even making a modest showing at the Consumer Electronics Show in 2012. Because the glass is both thin and strong, it makes an ideal material for a distributed mode loudspeaker, or DML.
When linked to a small motor known as an exciter – which, in turn, moves the glass – the DML envelops a space in high-quality sound.
What’s more, it eliminates the need for the perforated grills that protect traditional cone-style auto speakers. And that, in turn, opens up more space on a dashboard-turned-touchscreen.
Using vibration for touch sensation
Audio technology alone hasn’t been enough to motivate designers to quickly incorporate interior auto touchscreens, Orsley said. But advancements in another technology – haptics, based on the science of touch – is sparking additional interest in the potential of Gorilla Glass for auto interiors.
With haptics, a touchscreen user can apply light pressure to one area of the cover glass and feel a touch sensation – like small grooves, bumps, or other textures – that differentiates it from other areas, even while the screen remains perfectly smooth.
The feeling of texture, created by tuned vibrations, can correspond to climate controls, audio volume, or other functions traditionally controlled with knobs or buttons. And a more forceful touch can activate the control.
“The idea is that you’ll be able to orient yourself to the display and easily find the button you want – with various levels of touch pressure – without distracting from driving,” said Orsley. “And because Gorilla Glass is so thin, it allows more sound to be generated from a given level of electrical power.”
The double play
So how are haptics advancements spurring some new momentum for Gorilla Glass speakers?
Both technologies depend on exciters as a source of energy waves.
“With these motors that excite the glass and give it the haptic feel, it’s really just a short additional step to make it into a great speaker, too,” said Orsley. “Conversely, if you’re using a glass that’s advantaged in audio, it’s like getting haptics as a bonus.”
“Automakers are very interested in Gorilla Glass for auto interior display cover glass applications,” he added. This new capability adds innovative functionality to the discussion, and may well drive some new business opportunities in this space.”