Integration of Electronics Adds Value and Innovations In Concept Vehicles
10 January 2000
New technologies demonstrate the company's vision, enhance the 'ride' with safety, convenience and more DETROIT, Jan. 9 -- Everywhere you look -- from living rooms and offices to schools and homes -- electronics are enhancing peoples' lives. The electronics revolution brings great benefits to automotive consumers too, as reflected in Johnson Controls' exhibit at the 2000 North American International Auto Show (NAIAS). In a display which debuted today, the company is showcasing its advanced electronics products in a model-year 2000 Ford Expedition that has been transformed into a virtual "family room on wheels." The luxury sport-utility vehicle (SUV) features an integrated DVD video system, an electronic conversation mirror, a premium-quality sound system with eight speakers overhead, a rear-vision video system to make backing-up safer, a device to monitor tire pressure and more. "With electronic products and technologies, we can add new levels of convenience, fun, safety and comfort to the traveling experience," said Jim Geschke, Johnson Controls' vice president of electronics integration. "Electronics deliver features that delight consumers and enable automakers to differentiate their vehicles. We're bullish on electronics because of their great appeal and market impact, and because of Johnson Controls' outstanding capabilities in electronics technology and total interior integration." The electronics concept vehicle features advanced in-vehicle entertainment with Johnson Controls' next-generation AutoVision(R) system. It offers a 7- inch, active-matrix TFT (thin film transistor) display with an integrated DVD player. The device flips down from the headliner for easy video viewing by passengers in the rear of the vehicle. Inputs for video game systems and personal headphones are available. The ceiling-mounted unit can be removed for use as a portable DVD player. Audio entertainment is provided via Johnson Controls' Headline Audio(TM) system. Eight compact speakers integrated into the headliner -- and a total of 12 on-board speakers overall -- deliver high-quality sound throughout the vehicle interior. Headline Audio not only offers enhanced sound system performance, it simplifies interior packaging for automakers, with the placement of speakers overhead. Johnson Controls' all-new electronic conversation mirror debuts on the electronics concept vehicle as well. It relies on a small, ceiling-mounted video camera to transmit images of rear-seat passengers to a small display in the front overhead console. Used in conjunction with TravelCom(TM), it enables front-seat occupants to converse easily with those seated in the rear. Through microphones and the on-board audio system, TravelCom amplifies speech in the vehicle, so front-seat passengers don't have to turn around to carry on a conversation with rear-seat occupants. A new, rear-vision safety technology also debuts in the specially equipped luxury SUV. The rear-vision system offers the driver a "fish-eye view" of the area directly behind the vehicle, shown on a "reconfigurable" overhead display. A small video camera mounted in the center brake light (center high- mounted safety light or "CHMSL") captures the view at the rear of the vehicle. The system becomes operational automatically when the vehicle is shifted into reverse gear. "Our rear-vision technology is a great asset, especially on a sport- utility vehicle, van or minivan," said Geschke. "It provides an added measure of safety and eases the process of lining up the vehicle to hook up a trailer." Other electronic safety and convenience products featured in the concept SUV include PSI(TM) -- Pressure Safety Information system; TravelNote(R); a hands-free cellular phone; and the popular HomeLink(R) Universal Transceiver. With PSI, tire pressure in all four tires is monitored and the information is indicated on an overhead display. PSI relies on RF (radio frequency) technology to transmit "real-time" tire-pressure data and can be used with either conventional or "zero-pressure" tires. TravelNote -- which debuted on several model-year 1999 Ford vehicles -- is an on-board, digital recording/playback device for storing reminder messages. The HomeLink Universal Transceiver -- integrated into the overhead module -- enables the driver to remotely operate garage door openers, as well as home lighting, security and door-locking systems. HomeLink is one of Johnson Controls' most successful, brand-name electronic products, and is on the road as an installed featured in more than 6 million vehicles. Lighting in the electronics concept vehicle is designed to accommodate a wide range of on-board activities. The interior is generously appointed with more than a dozen strategically positioned lights, offering task, sconce and ambient lighting. At this year's NAIAS, the electronics concept vehicle is one of five major prototypes being exhibited by Johnson Controls. The other concepts focus on the company's capabilities in safety and comfort, flexible automotive interiors, acoustics technologies and vehicle personalization. The Plymouth, Michigan-based automotive business of Johnson Controls -- which employs more than 65,000 people at 275 facilities worldwide -- achieved US$12.1 billion in sales for the 1999 fiscal year. In model-year 2000, it will supply interior products for more than 22 million vehicles. Johnson Controls, Inc. is a global market leader in automotive systems and facility management and control. In the automotive market, it is a major supplier of seating and interior systems, and batteries. For non-residential facilities, Johnson Controls provides building control systems and services, energy management and integrated facility management. Johnson Controls, founded in 1885, has headquarters in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Its sales for 1999 totaled US$16.1 billion.