As New Driver-Assist Features Fight for Space on the Windscreen,
Gentex Carves a Niche by Providing Custom Sensor Clusters
ZEELAND, MI--(Marketwire - May 18, 2009) - Gentex Corporation
(NASDAQ: GNTX) -- Increased demand for new and emerging driver-assist
safety features is creating an engineering dilemma for automakers.
How do you effectively integrate these features into the vehicle when
collectively they require a myriad of sensors, imagers and vision
systems -- all of which need to be affixed on or near the windscreen?
Complicating this issue is the fact that for any given vehicle in
development there are multiple suppliers providing multiple sensors
that often need to meet multiple performance specifications. In
addition, all of these sensors need to fit on the same windscreen
without impeding driver vision.
This growing windscreen management challenge has been quite
beneficial for Gentex Corporation, the U.S.-based supplier of
automatic-dimming mirrors and advanced electronic products for the
worldwide auto industry.
Gentex knows windscreens. For over 25 years, nearly every product and
feature the Company has shipped has been affixed to the windscreen,
integrated into high-tech automatic-dimming rearview mirrors that
come packaged with technology like displays, hands-free microphones,
compass transducers, garage door openers, telematics components, rain
sensors -- even vision systems that control your headlamps.
Over the past few years, however, Gentex has found itself assisting
multiple automakers integrate various features into their vehicles
not only via the rearview mirror, but also by developing custom
sensor clusters that reside on or near the windscreen and are
typically affixed to the rearview mirror.
"It's not uncommon for a single Gentex-designed cluster to house
separate cameras for features like lane departure warning and/or
collision avoidance, as well as individual sensors that operate the
vehicle's headlamps, door locks, wipers, defroster, compass, interior
climate control and built-in garage door openers," said Enoch Jen,
Gentex's senior vice president.
Take the case of the XC60, a new crossover vehicle from Volvo. Gentex
helped Volvo Car Corporation engineer a custom windscreen- and
mirror-integrated sensor cluster that houses rain, infrared and
humidity sensors, a multipurpose camera, and components related to
Volvo's City Safety collision avoidance system. In addition, Gentex
supplies an interior auto-dimming mirror with compass and humidity
sensor features. The vehicle is available in Europe and the U.S.
All of these advanced components need to reside on or near the
windscreen so that they're protected from the elements yet have a
clear, unobstructed, wiper-swept view of the road and/or sky.
For another European automaker, Gentex help create a custom package
for integrating rain, light and humidity sensors with a multipurpose
camera, automatic-dimming mirror and Gentex's SmartBeamÂ® High-Beam
Assist, which uses a miniature camera and complex algorithms to
automate and optimize high-beam usage.
"It's a complex engineering task because each sensor cluster is
vehicle-specific and comprised of multiple brackets, covers, mounts
and wire harnesses," continued Jen. "Gentex also works to manage the
different suppliers of the various sensors and components to ensure
that the system not only functions properly but also meets relevant
legal, styling, ergonomic and manufacturing concerns."
Founded in 1974, Gentex Corporation (NASDAQ: GNTX) is an
international company that provides high-quality products to the
worldwide automotive industry and North American fire protection
market. Based in Zeeland, Michigan, the Company develops,
manufactures and markets interior and exterior automatic-dimming
automotive rearview mirrors that utilize proprietary electrochromic
technology to dim in proportion to the amount of headlight glare from
trailing vehicle headlamps. Many of the mirrors are sold with
advanced electronic features, and more than 96 percent of the
Company's revenues are derived from the sale of auto-dimming mirrors
to nearly every major automaker in the world.
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