TECHNOLOGY

Further Embellishing Comfortable, Quality Cabin Environments

Displays & Aesthetic Design

The automotive industry is fast embracing a new age represented by the CASE domains and there is growing demand for mobility spaces providing premium quality and comfort. Alps Alpine has supplied numerous OEM and own-brand products within the display domain, particularly in the form of car navigation systems, and has been recognized many times both in Japan and overseas, receiving design awards for example. We have also topped the J.D. Power Japan Navigation Systems Customer Satisfaction Index Study in terms of overall satisfaction for eight years running to 2019 among other accolades acknowledging our products’ excellent performance and design, as well as the ease with which they can be used. Through displays, we introduce a number of key technologies and Alps Alpine activities used to elicit premium quality and comfort inside the vehicle cabin.

Diverse Technologies Achieving Harmony with Cabin Design

Alps Alpine has worked creatively with aesthetic design to elicit a premium quality from in-car displays and control panels for many years. A philosophy we follow is that information is the actor out on stage, while displays and related products are stagehands supporting from behind the scenes. Having established a firm footing in provision of the information delivery function, Alps Alpine works tirelessly to optimize the way information is presented while blending in with the cabin design. Coming into play here are a diverse range of key technologies that we are constantly refining.

One area where we have brought to fruition a number of ideas and objectives is molding technology. Dashboard designs today are more than just simple configurations of straight lines. More flexible craftsmanship involving irregular forms is in demand. In response, Alps Alpine explores advanced processing techniques to produce features like smooth curves and elegant three-dimensional rounded surfaces, as well as sharp lines with hard edges, and uneven, textured surfaces. We also use film insert molding and in-mold decoration, allowing expanded freedom in surface processing to create glossy or matte finishes, for example, and in other aspects of aesthetic design. These techniques enable integral molding of large displays together with navigation, instrument clusters and other systems.

In the manufacturing of display units, Alps Alpine employs automated high-precision assembly and inspection equipment. It is also an integrated production system all within a clean environment on the company’s own premises.
Here we tap our extensive design expertise in the form of high-definition video circuitry, structural engineering in application to unit products, and optical coating technology, while advancing development of screens with high visibility using optical bonding techniques to ensure excellent viewability even during the daytime by suppressing glare and reflections. We pursue all-round excellence in safety considerations, operability, design and texture in keeping with the support role that automotive displays fill in delivering dependable and comfortable mobility.

In addition to these technological strengths, Alps Alpine offers a unique advantage in its readiness to stay close to the customer and attend to their various needs. A feature of our display-related OEM business is that we have well-established relations with automakers both in Japan and overseas and have built up solid trust. Our basic approach is to face up to even the more sophisticated requests and complex challenges presented by premium car manufacturers as we draw on all our key technologies to find solutions.

Keeping Pace with Cabin Trends

Alps Alpine keeps pace with trends inside the vehicle cabin in a variety of ways using extensive know-how in development of both OEM and aftermarket products. For example, we anticipate that up ahead more cabins will feature flat designs and larger screens, and so we have come up with prototypes of edgeless displays and dead-front panels that achieve seamless integration and blend in with the cabin interior. And in addition to these key technologies that Alpine accumulated over the years, we are pursuing original solutions combining human-machine interface (HMI) technologies of Alps Company, including decorative printing, for recreating metallic hairline, wood grain and other material textures; stealth illumination, for lighting up switch icons only when they are needed, and vibrational feedback. In particular, capacitive devices employing high-sensitivity ICs enable hand proximity sensing and spatial gesture control on top of conventional touch input. Solutions combining these HMI offerings with aesthetic design will bring about whole new cabin experiences for users.

Touch Input Module

This input device, a product of synergies generated by the business integration of Alps and Alpine, combines Alpine’s display control technology (GUI) with Alps’ capacitive and force feedback technologies. A high-sensitivity capacitive sensor and original ASIC design enable highly accurate input, while force feedback conveys a realistic switch push sensation to the user’s fingertips. There is also a feature for use when toggling between automated and hands-on driving modes that switches the positions of the monitor and controls depending on the driver’s posture. It helps infuse comfort and luxury into the mobility space.

Tried and Trusted Expertise in Moving Mechanism Design

Besides display design and functionality, another area where Alps Alpine’s strengths show through in the display business is design of moving mechanisms. An appealing look is not all that is required for the driver and passengers to savor the premium feel and comfort. Factors such as the sound of operation and the movement are also important. Ever since the 5952 6-disc CD changer in the 1980s – a popular product the world over – Alps Alpine has been building up expertise relating to moving mechanisms through development of items like movable navigation displays, floating screens and lift-up speakers. In designing transfer and storage mechanisms to fit and work in these limited spaces, Alps Alpine makes a point of ensuring quiet, high-quality operation. Through such efforts, Alps Alpine aims to create premium HMI products and spaces that enhance the value of the vehicle cabin.

The interior spaces of cars are expected to evolve in many different ways, not simply in the sense of providing driving enjoyment, but also to enable relaxation in comfort while in self-drive mode with access to all the information you need. Alps Alpine will keep putting forward proposals combining elements such as diverse forms of aesthetic design, top-quality moving mechanisms, alignment with trends, and HMI technology.