ROYAL OAK, MI – Mitsubishi Electric showcases publicly for the first time its latest iteration of in-vehicle infotainment and active noise-cancellation technologies, called FLEXConnect.IVI and FLEXConnect.ANC, expecting to take orders for production programs beginning in 2017.

The latest-generation FLEXConnect.IVI system combines swipe and touchscreen technologies and unites longtime-separately functioning instrument-panel, head-up display and center-stack screens into a single processor, for what the global supplier considers an easier, safer and more satisfying environment.

“We’re improving the user experience,” says Gareth Williams, manager-Strategic Technologies, Audio, Video & Communications at Mitsubishi Electric.

The Android-based system marks a new turn in the instrument-panel and HMI space, because it combines three screens, including a massive, 12.1-in. (31-cm) center-stack Mitsubishi touchscreen on a proof-of-concept displayed here, into a single Texas Instruments automotive processor.

“We see the cluster becoming one big display,” says Doug Ray, director-Sales, Quality and Engineering, Audio Video & Communications at Mitsubishi Electric. “You can put anything on it and change it dynamically.”

Uniting the three screens means that, for the first time, users can swipe information, such as audio, climate and vehicle-gauge readings, from the center stack to the instrument cluster or HUD. Information also can be swiped to a hand-held device.

In a nifty bit of brand-oriented animation, experts here show how a logo can appear on the HUD when the car is started and then spill into the instrument cluster and over to the center stack touchscreen.

“That is something we could not do with the old architecture,” Williams says.

The branding can accommodate third parties, too, if an automaker chooses to include the logo of the software provider of certain technologies or applications.

Three screens controlled by one processor also means an automaker can shift to a single-source supplier, instead of one for each unit. That should trim purchasing costs.

The Mitsubishi touchscreen for the center stack features capacitive-touch technology and a resolution of 1280 x 800 pixels. The IP cluster measures 12.3 ins. (31 cm) with a resolution of 1960 x 720 pixels and no capacitive-touch ability. The HUD resolution is 480 x 240 pixels without capacitive touch functions.

Ray says the size of the proof-of-concept display screens on a Cadillac CTS here reflects the growing size of the units across the industry. He says 15-in. (38-cm) screens are on the horizon, quite a leap from the standard 8- and 9-in. (20-23 cm) units in most vehicles today.

“But making a screen big isn’t just enough,” he warns. “They must also have the resolution.”

Ray says HUD units also are growing in size, color and resolution, with greater capability to project a wider variety of information on the windshield. But packaging still can be a challenge.

“The projector is not that small,” he says. “So it needs to be designed in early. You can’t wait two years into (product) development. Then it gets really hard.”

Ray also says DVD entertainment screens are witnessing an evolution, and he discounts the threat of buyers migrating exclusively to devices as wireless Internet connectivity bleeds into vehicles. He thinks people still like the flexibility of having a disc player, because a single DVD can cost less than a Wi-Fi download and be used in multiple formats in and out of the vehicle.

DVD entertainment screens soon will be capable of sharing content, too, where much like the latest FLEXConnect.IVI technology users can share media by swiping it from one screen to another. Future systems will have the additional capability for a front-seat passenger to monitor the viewing choices of second- and third-row occupants.

Mitsubishi Electric uses the event to show its latest active noise-cancellation technology as well.

FLEXConnect.ANC now cancels less predictable and harmonically unrelated road sounds and engine noise for a quieter, more comfortable cabin environment, the experts say. It leverages XSe ANC technology from Mentor Graphics to reduce the cost of adding sound-damping hardware to a vehicle.

Cancelling noises electronically also saves weight, a key fuel-economy consideration.

“It is a dramatic difference,” Ray says of the generational update.

FLEXConnect.ANC represents a new approach to noise-cancellation technology, because inputs are no longer limited to microphones and engine speeds. The technology now additionally leverages accelerometers for engine order and road-noise cancellation.

The underlying algorithm is real-time tunable, too, experts say, so the system can be updated dynamically as the car ages and new noises emerge.

jamend@wardsauto.com