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Visteon's curved OLED displays coming to cars at CES 2017

Automotive equipment supplier Visteon showed off how OLED technology can better integrate displays in car cabins.

Visteon automotive OLED
This OLED display, showing instrument cluster graphics, curves slightly to nestle into a car's dashboard.
Wayne Cunningham/CNET Roadshow

OLED display technology has made its way into televisions and computer screens, and now automotive technology supplier Visteon is exploring how it can be used in cars. OLED displays show very high resolution imagery with bright, crisp colors, don't use much energy, and are very thin.

At CES 2017, Visteon showed off examples of OLED displays designed as car instrument clusters and infotainment interfaces.

Using an OLED display for infotainment will require development of better touch technology.

Wayne Cunningham/CNET Roadshow

The bright colors make these displays immediately eye-catching. Unlike existing LCD displays, OLEDs do not require a backlight, as each pixel emits its own light. The relatively thin plastic that makes up an OLED can be curved, meaning automotive designers don't have to place a large, flat piece of glass somewhere on the dashboard. An OLED can mold to fit the curvature of in-car surfaces.

A few hurdles remain for incorporating OLED display technologies in cars. A Visteon spokesperson pointed out that, while fine for the home, the screens degrade more quickly from the temperature variations and conditions of a car's cabin. Blue pixels in particular suffer from the in-car environment.

Incorporating a touch surface also presents a problem, especially when taking advantage of an OLED's thin form factor and flexibility to shape it into a dashboard space.

However, as OLED technology spreads to new devices, it will clear these technological hurdles, adding a new, more flexible element to car interiors.