Head-up Displays


The head-up display reduces driver distraction and increases driver safety.

To read an instrument cluster, for at least a brief moment you have to take your eyes off the road. Your eyes need to adjust to the shorter distance (known as accommodation) before the information flow can begin. This process reoccurs when your eyes readjust to the greater visual distance to take in the traffic environment. This process takes time and tires the eyes if it happens frequently. Reading a display, including accommodation of the eye occurring twice, requires at least half a second with a conventional instrument cluster. This means that when drivers avert their gaze at a speed of 120 km/h they will be driving blind for about 33 meters.

A head-up display (HUD) shows information exactly where you need it – directly in the line of sight. Drivers get all the important information such as speed, warning signals and indicator arrows for navigation without looking down to the instrument cluster or the secondary display. In the case of a windscreen head-up display drivers see a virtual image, but not as a flat, static picture on the windshield, but rather, as “floating” over the hood at a distance of about two meters.

In the case of an augmented-reality head-up display the information of the windshield-HUD is enriched with a layer of information right on the street in front of the car. For Continental the HUD represents a key technology for its holistic approach for the human-machine-interface which will lead to a dialogue without word between the driver and his vehicle.

HUD Technology Safety


Always in control, always informed

Our head-up displays also make driving more comfortable. You will feel better protected, because you have all the information directly in their line of sight and therefore can recognize and catch critical situations even faster.
With improved feedback regarding the driving situation and the status of your car, it will become harder to miss important information. Speed limits for example, can be displayed in the HUD and  you will be warned if you drive above the speed limit. Information from the adaptive cruise control assures you that you are driving the correct distance from the car in front of you and gives you an early warning if you are not. Our lane departure warning system gives immediate feedback if you are going to leave the lane. The usability of navigation systems also improves with a better visual feedback regarding the road ahead, especially with our augmented reality head-up display, where navigation information is seamlessly integrated in to the environment in front of your car.

Continental head-up displays can be easily adjusted to the needs and preferences of drivers. This allows to customize the positioning of the virtual image on the windshield, according to the own preferences. It is also possible to adjust the contrast and the brightness. Last but not least, you can configure what information is displayed on the HUD by turning off single information like speed limit or navigation.


From a technical point of view, the HUD is a master stroke. In order to create a distortion-free image, the windshield, a curved free-form surface from an optical point of view, requires very exact images from the concave mirror in the HUD. As a result, the tolerances in the manufacturing of the large mirror are correspondingly narrow: Continental produces this large asphere in plastic injection molding with a tolerance of under 5 micrometers (0.005 mm) across the entire surface. Due to the large dynamic range of ambient brightness, extreme luminance and excellent brightness control are required for the HUD (depending on the brightness of the background of the virtual display) in order to produce an image that can be easily read.
Any optical distortions through the shield are electronically corrected on the display. A lot of research and development has primarily gone into optimizing the picture generating unit (PGU), consisting of a heat sink, printed circuit board, LED matrix, and TFT color display and light guide. The latest development in a follow-up solution for an existing HUD is a display that has already reached 3.1˝ and 800 x 480 pixel resolution. During optimization, the existing 1.8˝ PGU has not only seen its performance improve – it is now more efficient as well. Compared to the first generation, the LED matrix in the TFT display in the second generation has already reached 1,300 candela per watt (cd/W). Since 2013, the next stage of development has been based on an efficiency of 1,700 cd/W, and in a few years a brightness of 3,000 cd/W will be a realistic target. This explains why only 8 watts of electrical power are needed for a contemporary standard series HUD, despite the intense brightness of the display. Thanks to increasing efficiency in LED technology, the luminance of the visible display in the series has already reached more than 10,000 cd/m2.

High precision production of windshield head-up displays in Babenhausen, Germany.


Continental has a broad portfolio of head-up displays. We develop windshield head-up displays, combiner head-up displays and augmented reality head-up displays. One main focus of our strategy is an aim to provide head-up displays for all vehicles classes, from luxury cars to small vehicles. Consequently we were one of the first manufacturers to deliver mid range vehicle HUDs, for example for the BMW 3 Series.
The key to producing HUDs for smaller, less expensive vehicle classes as well, was to optimize costs, and also, more importantly, to reduce installation space. As a result, the second generation of Continental HUDs require just over half the space needed for the first generation of HUDs. Our combiner-HUD is the latest step on the path towards having a HUD in every car and therefore improved safety, regardless of the size or value of the car. The combiner-HUD further reduces installation space and is flatter than a windshield-HUD, something that is crucial for all vehicles types, where space in the cockpit is very limited. It is also very cost-effective as it only requires a small plastic or glass screen in order to fulfill the optical requirements for adequately reflecting the light as opposed to the windscreen itself.


In 2010 Continental began series production of the second-generation of head-up displays. This second-generation HUD from Continental has become an important part of the Human-Machine-Interface of the Audi A6/A7 and A8 Series, BMW 3 Series and Mercedes-Benz C-Class.

HUD Experience


We began producing color head-up displays in 2003 and Continental can draw on a wealth of more than a hundred years of experience when it comes to driver information systems. Aside from its own automotive history, Continental has also inherited the experience of automotive suppliers like VDO which have become a part of Continental. The history of Continental’s automotive business began in 1908, when the Parisian firm E . Seignol established a subsidiary in Frankfurt, called O.S. Autometerwerke E. Seignol, which was later known as OTA Apparate GmbH. The fusion of OTA with the speedometer division of Deuta Werke in Berlin lead to the foundation of VDO Tachometer AG – Vereinigte Deuta OTA in Frankfurt (1928), later becoming VDO Tachometer AG and after that, VDO Adolf Schindling GmbH (1951). Between 1991 and 1994, VDO, now VDO Adolf Schindling AG, was gradually integrated into Mannesmann AG (Mannesmann VDO AG). After merging with Siemens Automotive in 2001, VDO (Siemens VDO AG) was acquired by Continental in 2007.

These years of experience and know-how that have come as a result of our history continue to help us both in working together with customers, as well as in making head-up displays even more attractive to drivers.

Augmented Reality Head-up Display

AR-HUD Features

In the near future augmented reality head-up displays will help to make driving even more comfortable and safe. This generation of HUDs supplements the exterior view of the traffic conditions in front of the vehicle with virtual information (augmentations) for the driver. The augmented reality head-up display differs from a normal windshield-HUD since the reflected information appears to be part of the driving situation itself. When navigating, for example, a virtual symbol inserted precisely into the exterior view marks the route that the driver should follow on the road ahead. When distance controls (adaptive cruise control, ACC) are enabled, a marking in the AR-HUD visualizes which vehicle in front is detected by the assistance system.
In a world that is becoming increasingly complex, the AR-HUD relieves the burden on the driver because what the driver’s eyes see is directly connected with explanatory information.
This leads to a new quality of information that allows the driver to register the driving situation they are in even faster – essential for more safety and comfort.
Therefore the AR-HUD is an important step in the direction of holistic interaction concepts in vehicles for a more comfortable, more economic, and safer driving experience. Drivers receive all the important information before their eyes in an easily comprehensible way. This is an important next step against driver distraction and sensory overload in the future.

AR-HUD Technology

The AR-HUD moves virtual information directly into the driver’s line of sight. It inserts full-color graphics into the real road view in an approximately 130 cm-wide and over 60 cm-high section of the driver’s field of vision at a distance of 7.5 meters. The basis for this is provided by digital micro-mirror device (DMD) technology, which is also used in digital cinema projectors. Continental will bring this projection technology into series production as early as in 2016. Three possible applications are realized in connection with driver assistance systems in the Continental demo vehicle as an example: The AR-HUD supports the driver if the vehicle is in danger of unintentionally drifting out of a lane. The AR-HUD also supports the use of ACC (adaptive cruise control). When ACC is enabled, a crescent-shaped marking in the AR-HUD highlights the vehicle in front that is detected by the electronics. The AR-HUD also reflects navigation information in the real exterior view. This leads to the driver knowing which turning they have to take, without having to look back and forth between the navigation screen and the real world.

This starts a new interaction between the vehicle and the driver. The vehicle shows the driver what the assistance systems can see and what they are doing. This creates trust and will therefore also help to create acceptance for current and future driving functions, as for example automated driving.

The development of an AR-HUD requires a lot of know-how in different automotive fields. You need experience with HUD technology, driver assistance systems and data handling in order to generate an augmentation in the AR-Creator which perfectly fits to the current driving situation. Based on camera and radar data from the vehicle sensors, taking into account the vehicle dynamics data from the vehicle, and helped by digital map data and GPS positioning, the control unit calculates a model of the real exterior view from the driver’s perspective and can thus generate the augmentations at the correct visual point.

HUD technology experience

Combiner-HUD Features

With the combiner-HUD Continental extends its range of scalable solutions for head-up displays (HUD). This compact example of the HUD principle is closely related to the windshield-HUD, but requires less installation space. A small, transparent plastic disc called the “combiner” is used as a mirror for the information shown, instead of the windshield itself. Now the ergonomic advantages of HUD technology can have the broadest possible use in the vehicle. The combiner-HUD can be easily integrated in whole vehicle families as well as in particularly sporty cars with limited space in the cockpit. Compared with the windshield-HUD the combiner-HUD requires only slightly more than half the installation space, depending on the application. This is possible because the windshield does not need to be integrated in the optical path here. Instead this path is positioned in the combiner, which is optimized for its optical properties. Under favorable conditions, a combiner-HUD even comes with just one single mirror in the interior. This makes the construction not only compact but also extremely flat, which also makes it easier to integrate in smaller or particularly sporty vehicles. The combiner provides almost the same ergonomic advantages: while reading selected information, drivers can constantly keep their eyes on the traffic. They no longer have to keep looking back and forth between the road and their display instrument.



Compared with the windshield-HUD, the distance to the visual display of the Combiner-HUD is marginally shorter, between 1.5 m and 2m, which means that the driver’s eyes have to adjust slightly more to the shorter distance compared with the windshield-HUD.

New Integrated Combiner Head-up Display

Continental has reduced the minimum volume space for head-up displays even further to only 0.85 l. This was possible by integrating a Combiner Head-up Display into the Instrument Cluster. HUD and Instrument Cluster now share a single 3.5” TFT with synchronized images.

The integrated Combiner HUD is the next step towards offering head-up displays for all vehicle classes. It is also a proof of Continentals competence in system integration, to develop cost sensitive solutions with less system complexity but all functions that drivers demand.


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News & Events

Integrated Combiner at Tokyo Motor Show

Continental has presented its new integrated Combiner HUD to the public at Tokyo Motorshow 2015.
Continental sees high sales potential for this product in the Asian markets, in particular Japan and China.

Robert Drury presents on the topic of Augmented Reality during the 2015 SAE International World Congress.

2015 SAE International World Congress

Continental was the Tier One Strategic Sponsor alongside Honda for the 2015 SAE International World Congress in Detroit, MI, held April 21-23, 2015. Throughout the week, Continental had a number of industry experts present on a variety of Automotive and Tire topics. One of these thought leaders was Mr. Robert (Bob) Drury, Director of Engineering, Instrumentation & Driver HMI, Continental North America. Mr. Drury presented in a Tech Hub session, which featured short, informational presentations in a TED-like talk format. His topic of discussion was Augmented Reality with a focus on Continental’s Augmented Reality Head-up Display (AR-HuD). Mr. Drury explained how the ability of the car can go far beyond the human scope with the use of such technology.

To supplement the presentation by Mr. Drury, Continental also had a Combiner HuD on display near the Tech Hub area.

SAE World Congress website: http://www.sae.org/congress/

Auto Shanghai 2015

April 22 – 29, 2015
Media Day: April 20 + 21, 2015

At Auto Shanghai 2015 Continental will present its latest Combiner Head-up Display technology and the recent Windshield Head-up Display generation with digital micro-mirror device (DMD) technology.

Visit us in:
Hall 5.2
Booth No.: 5B / H311
Auto Shanghai website: www.autoshanghai.org/en/

Augmented Reality Head-up Display Media Event

Auburn Hills, USA, October 29, 2014

On October 29th, 2014, Continental showcased its latest AR-HUD  technology  on public roads in North America for the first time. The program allowed journalists to test drive a vehicle equipped with one of Continental’s current Head-up Displays already in production, as well as the Augmented Reality HUD demonstration vehicle. During the event, executives and technical experts from Continental presented an overview of Continental’s comprehensive product portfolio for Driver HMI technologies. They also gave an outlook on the strategy towards a Holistic Human Machine Interface (Holistic HMI) and Continental’s technical capabilities in the field of Human Machine Interface, e.g. the new AR-creator for Augmented Reality Head-up Displays.

Press Releases HUD
Continental AR-HUD Technology for a Dialog Without Word

AR-HUD – Technology for a Dialog Without Words

Babenhausen, Germany, July 2014. The international automotive supplier Continental is developing an Augmented Reality Head-up Display (AR-HUD) in order to facilitate a new form of dialog between the vehicle and the driver. The reality of the traffic conditions as seen by the driver is extended…

Read and download the press release

Head-up Displays Find Their Way into Drivers' Field of Vision

Head-up Displays Find Their Way into Drivers’ Field of Vision

Babenhausen, Germany, July 2014. Since it was launched on the market, the head-up display (HUD) has gone from being an innovation for luxury-class vehicles to a technology for the mass market. It is not least thanks to its visible usefulness and improved technology…

Read and download the press release

Continental First Look at Augmented Reality Head-Up Display for Improved Driver Information

First Look at Augmented Reality Head-Up Display for Improved Driver Information

Babenhausen, Germany, July 2014. The international automotive supplier Continental is presenting a new evolutionary stage of its head-up display (HUD). The Augmented Reality HUD supplements the exterior view of the traffic conditions in front of the vehicle with virtual…

Read and download the press release

Continental Presents Combiner Head-up Display

Continental Presents Combiner Head-up Display

Babenhausen/Germany, July 22, 2014. International automotive supplier Continental is systematically continuing to extend its range of scalable solutions for head-up displays (HUD) for the human machine interface (HMI) in cars. The company has developed a particularly compact…

Read and download the press release

Continental Further Than the Eye Can See

Further Than the Eye Can See

Babenhausen/Germany, July, 22, 2014. The “Augmented Reality Head-up Display” (AR-HUD) was recently presented by the international automotive supplier Continental in its demo vehicle. This new development has the ability to revolutionize…

Read and download the press release

HUD Media Coverage

New head-up displays could change views for drivers and the industry

Head-up displays with “augmented reality,” the technology that employs much of the windshield as a display area for data and images, is poised to significantly change how drivers see the road. Continental AG says it has lined up a production contract to supply its new HUD technology for an unnamed customer in 2017. Read the full article at autonews.com

Continental: The Technology behind the Augmented Reality Head-up Display

The international automotive supplier Continental is developing an Augmented Reality Head-up Display (AR-HUD) in order to facilitate a new form of dialog between the vehicle and the driver. Read the full article at automotiveworld.com

Eyes On With Heads-Up Display Car Tech

As more technology comes into the car—from connected services like local search that require accurate input to driver-assist systems that issue a barrage of warnings—drivers will have to process more visual and audible stimuli. Read the full article at PCMag

Continental Shows Its Augmented Reality Head-up Display for 2017

The international automotive supplier Continental is developing an Augmented Reality Head-up Display (AR-HUD) in order to facilitate a new form of dialog between the vehicle and the driver. Read the full article at autoevolution.com