In the run-up to the Hungarian Grand Prix, the BMW Technology Office takes the wraps off an innovative Formula One product.
A miniature head-up display system in the size of 6x8 millimeters integrated in Ralf Schumacher's helmet will enable a wide range of information and messages to be relayed to the driver.
With this "visual information window" BMW is setting new standards for safety in Formula One. It means racing drivers can register visual information while still paying full attention to their driving.
Aided by this innovative technology, the driver can be alerted, for example, to an accident on a certain stretch of the track or a patch of oil in a particular turn.
"With this device, BMW has taken a further important step forward on the safety front," says Ralf Schumacher of the BMW WiliamsF1 Team. The display system was devised by the BMW Technology Office based in Silicon Valley's Palo Alto in collaboration with a local partner company specializing in electronics and with the German helmet manufacturer Schuberth.
Ralf will use the mini head-up display in his helmet starting with the forthcoming season.
This pioneering technology opens up an entirely new channel of communication between the pits and the driver. A module integrated in the helmet stores various messages and images in a data set, which can be called up from the pits and displayed to the driver.
The mini head-up display projects the relevant "transparent" image through the visor on a level with the front of the car. The driver registers the information without being distracted from what is happening on the track.
The BMW mini head-up display has a high-resolution true color display based on active matrix liquid crystal display (AMLCD) technology. The key function of the display is found in a unique lens element known as a free form prism (FFP). Thus the driver is able to see the picture pin sharp.
Formula One as an ideal application and test area:
The mini head-up display enables the projection of any number of optical messages into the driver's direct field of vision.
For Formula One testing, the miniature display was integrated into the chin cup of a modified Schuberth RF-1 racing helmet. Additional walls and padding were used in accordance with guidelines from the SNELL Foundation (the helmet safety organization).
The system is located in the peripheral vision field of the driver's dominant eye. Thanks to the unique design of the system, the information is projected into the driver's field of vision without his having to actually look at the display.