What’s New in OEM Video Screen and Signal Integration
By Todd Ramsey
These days it’s not uncommon to have a factory installed screen in the dash or multiple screens serving rear seat entertainment duties. What used to be exclusive to the aftermarket is now part of the OEM vehicle entertainment and information system architecture and it’s only logical that removal is out of the question much of the time. Instead, you must integrate. Does anyone see a pattern here? Integration is simply how specialty installation shops can differentiate themselves from the pack of commodity selling retailers only moving boxes.
In The Dash
If you have worked on any new vehicles within the past few years, you most certainly have encountered makes and models with factory screens in the dash. While it used to be a foregone conclusion that an in-dash OEM video screen meant the car was already ‘loaded’ with factory navigation, rear view camera and any other item that required a screen on which to view the content, this is no longer the case. There are many vehicles in which the screen is simply delivering information and (if it’s a touch screen) control of certain vehicle, HVAC and entertainment functions in a logical, central location of the dashboard. When you have this screen in the dash, it’s such a no brainer to determine how an aftermarket device can integrate with it instead of going through the hassle of trying to figure out how to replace it (in some cases having to relocate certain parts to stay electrically connected). Yes, integration into that in-dash video screen is key.
There are a number of considerations for integration to that screen in the dash:
1) What is the video signal transfer format/method used to bring video signal information to the screen? Is it an analog format or a digital format?
2) Is the wiring to take control of the screen in that dash accessible to you (plugs that carry the signal at the screen itself or at another component that provides a signal, such as a navigation CPU)?
3) Is the screen only providing a video image, or is it a touchscreen that has control functions as well? How will this affect the aftermarket device(s) you are installing and how they will be controlled?
4) Perhaps the most important – do you have suppliers for solutions that create opportunities for you to accomplish the integration successfully?
The 8.4n Uconnect touch screen system in the 2011 Chrysler 300.
While many of the European vehicles such as BMW, Land Rover, Audi, Mercedes-Benz, and others have had in-dash video screens for years, it’s becoming more common in Asian mid-level luxury cars (Lexus, Hyundai, Toyota, Nissan, Infiniti) and even the domestic US vehicles are showing a strong coverage with Cadillac and Buick, Ford (SYNC) and Chrysler (Uconnect 8.4 and 8.4N models). In dash screens are literally everywhere – not just in the six figure luxury brands anymore.
While some installations may focus on getting a video signal into the OEM screen, others may add functionality to simply allow the video content to be viewed while the vehicle is in motion. This feature, commonly called ‘VIM’, may also enable destination entry of OEM navigation or dialing of the Bluetooth paired phone from the head unit’s menu screen while in motion where those vehicles are so equipped. In some cases, the emergency brake, VSS and/or GPS signals may need to be interrupted for VIM functions to be enabled.
Let’s come back to the in-dash screens in just a bit. First let’s switch gears to the other segment of OEM video screens, the ones for passengers.