Doosan Bobcat, in partnership with LG Electronics, is working on the development of a transparent Organic Light Emitting Diode (OLED) touch display that will appear directly on a machine's window.
The prototype provides a transparent, engaging touch display embedded within the glass structure of the operator’s cab. The display, which operators can see through to also view the jobsite, can be positioned on the front windshield or a side window.
The key is that it is not only a screen, but it's a window. This allows operators to seamlessly view both the jobsite around them while using the front windshield or side window as a large customizable touchscreen. Currently, the transparent OLDE can be attached to the window, but in the future, the screen will be embedded into the window itself, so it is the window.
“Instead of working off a 5- or 7-inch monitor, it's your whole window,” said Brody Rohlfs, Bobcat innovation concept and insights specialist. “The intent is to better link the operator to the jobsite with as much information as possible at their fingertips.”
The transparent OLED displays are still in the development stage at this point, having been featured at large industry events including ConExpo 2023. Before release, the company will get feedback from operators.
“We're going to give the ability for the operators to see things they want, when they want to see it and when they need it and make it as customizable as possible,” Rohlfs said.
The transparent OLED can be installed as the front windshield or side window of the cab or cabin on a range of Bobcat machines, including compact excavators, telehandlers, and loaders. Like a smartphone, Bobcat says, the display can be customized with smart widgets and interactive applications to integrate data relevant to the jobsite or daily activities.
Several functions including machine gauges, operator assist functions, camera views, jobsite overlays or maps, and more can be displayed.
“We can put anything you have in the current controller, but we can also put different camera views and any sort of information that that operator might want or need,” Rohlfs said. “What we want to enhance is being able to deliver information to the operator when and where they would like it.”
Also like a phone or computer, the widgets or apps can be moved around or cleared off the screen easily with a drag-and-drop function. In addition, images can be enlarged as needed.
As one example of how it is being tested, Bobcat has even mounted one of the screens on the right-side window of a telehandler to address the blind spot created when the boom is raised.
Using the transparent OLED, a camera can be attached to the boom, and the view displayed on the window the operator would normally look out of in that direction.
Talking of more futuristic applications, Rohlfs noted that an operator can operate multiple machines from within one cab using the touchscreen via the Bobcat MaxControl system.
Using the transparent OLED gives an operator the potential to link that MaxControl concept into individual machine systems. If the excavator needs to move back a little to allow the loader to complete its task, the operator could press a button and not only gain control of the excavator but also have the camera views available from that machine.
“That's kind of the goal,” Rohlfs said. “We’re trying to give as many features to our customers as possible and differentiate ourselves from other manufacturers.”
No specific date has been set for the release of the transparent OLED, although the indication was more news would be forthcoming in the next couple of years.
When asked what it might look like by ConExpo 2026, Rohlfs indicated that a further evolution of the concept would certainly be seen but whether it would be available as an actual option at that point is uncertain.