Transportation Electronics

Like many of the “machines” we use in daily life, transportation platforms have, in modern times, deployed electronic technology to improve functionality and efficiency. Early implementations of technology consisted of specialized computers whose sole intent was drive improvements in fuel efficiency. In many markets, particularly the automotive industry, this technology base has evolved to include anti-collision systems, lighting control systems, infotainment and navigation systems. With the advent of the autonomous vehicle this technology is not only becoming beneficial, it is becoming necessary.

As with most technology, however, many technological advancements create new problems as they are solving others. For example, increased functionality in an automobile increases the number of controls a driver must manage, risking safety via distraction. More controls have to be included in a finite amount of space as close as possible to the view of the road, no small feat for modern automotive engineers.

Buttons and switches have given rise to touch screens, but again these require a driver to take eyes off the road. Mechanical switches are costly to engineer and tool up within limited usable real estate.

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Smart surfaces, using conformable touch sensors with haptic feedback show promise in solving both the usability and manufacturability concerns facing automakers.

They, however require new material sets that not only perform the necessary electronic functionality, but do so on materials that can be easily designed into the elegant aesthetic environments most car buyers have come to expect.

The advantages of the deployment of these next-generation materials extends well beyond the drivers and passengers of these "vehicles of tomorrow" to the engineers designing them and the companies manufacturing them. Simpler, more cost-effective manufacturing techniques, including IME (In-Mold Electronics) will reduce labor while fewer wires and connectors reduce both cost and vehicle weight.