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Tesla’s novel ‘holographic glass’ patent makes way for better vehicle displays

(Photo: Andres GE)

The user experience of Tesla’s electric cars is centered mostly on the vehicles’ large, high-resolution displays. Coupled with custom software that provides a quick, smartphone-like experience, Tesla’s screens in its vehicles are already among the best in the auto industry. But in the spirit of the company’s habit of constant innovation, it appears that Tesla is looking to improve the quality of its displays even more. 

A recently published patent from the electric car maker, titled “Holographic Decorated Glass for Screen Color Matching,” outlines a way for the electric car maker to improve the viewing angles of its vehicles’ displays. In the patent, Tesla notes that “because display screens typically have a periodic micro-structure (e.g., a pixelated structure), the color of the display screen may be dependent on the angle at which a viewer is looking at the display screen.” This results in viewing angles that have significant room for improvement, even among high-quality screens. 

“The non-displaying portions of the device may be unable to match this angular color dependence of the display screen, resulting in a readily visible boundary between the display screen and the non-displaying portions of the device. Accordingly, there is a need for better color integration between the displaying portions of a device and the non-displaying portions of the device,” Tesla wrote. 

An illustration depicting a system where a display is surrounded by a holographic glass panel. (Credit: US Patent Office)

To address this, Tesla opted to utilize a pigmented frame and index match glue to coat its vehicles’ screens, as well as a holographic glass panel. By adopting these techniques, Tesla expects to provide its vehicles with a screen that can offer optimal viewing angles for all passengers. This is especially useful when paired with the company’s entertainment features such as Tesla Theater or Tesla Arcade, which are accessible when a vehicle is on Park. 

Tesla describes its use of index match glue and holographic glass panels as follows. 

“Index match glue 206 may change the perceived color and appearance of display 204 to match the color and appearance of surrounding frame 202 within a small range of viewing angles. For example, index match glue 206 may change the perceived color and appearance of display 204 to match the color and appearance of frame 202 within a range of viewing angles approximately normal to the surface of display 204. However, due to the angular dependence of the perceived color and appearance of display 204 (due to display 204 having a holographic structure resulting from the pixels of display 204), index match glue 206 may be unable to change the perceived color and appearance of display 204 to match the color and appearance of frame 202 within a broad range of viewing angles so that the boundary between frame 202 and display 204 is invisible to a viewer. Accordingly, with display 204 coated with index match glue 206 surrounded by frame 202, the boundary between frame 202 and display 204 may still be readily visible at certain viewing angles.”

“The directionality of the periodic structure of holographic film 402 may approximate or match the directionality of the periodic structure of display 406. For example, if display 406 includes a plurality of periodic features (e.g., pixels) oriented in a first direction (e.g., rectangles, triangles, or the like having a common orientation), holographic film 402 may include a plurality of periodic features oriented in the first direction. FIG. 5 shows exemplary system 500 in which the visibility of a boundary between display 504 and a surrounding frame including a holographic structure (here holographic glass panel 502) may be reduced or eliminated over a broad range of viewing angles. In exemplary system 500, a periodic structure is formed on holographic glass panel 502 directly. For example, laser etching on holographic glass panel 502 may produce the periodic structure responsible for the holographic effect of holographic glass panel 502. Holographic glass panel 502 may include holographic structures formed in a variety of other ways, including ablation, etching, deposition processes, and the like.”

The full text of Tesla’s “Holographic Decorated Glass for Screen Color Matching” patent could be viewed here

A color-matched display with optimal viewing angles might be a rather minor aspect of a vehicle, but for connected cars such as Teslas, it is these little things that make a difference in user experience. A car that boasts some of the most advanced automotive tech available in the auto segment today, after all, deserves a screen that is on par with some of the best mobile devices on the market. 

Tesla’s display design outlined in its recently published patent can come in handy as well, particularly as the electric car maker introduces more updates to its fleet of vehicles. Among these is a “Fade Mode,” which Elon Musk has hinted at in the past. While responding to a Twitter follower last year, Musk responded positively to the suggestion of adding an option that allows drivers to dim their vehicles’ display while a car is in motion. This, together with features like V10’s Joe Mode, could help make long trips in Tesla’s electric vehicles much more convenient for passengers.

Tesla’s novel ‘holographic glass’ patent makes way for better vehicle displays
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