Continental Automotive Systems is introducing an in-car infotainment system that allows the driver to view one image while a front-seat passenger sees another – simultaneously on the same screen without either person seeing what the other is viewing.

Continental, the only supplier making such a system, says it is due in a North American model in 2010. Meanwhile, an informed source within Chrysler LLC tells Ward’s the auto maker is considering something similar for its next-generation Chrysler 300 large sedan.

The screen, located on the center stack above a vehicle’s console, shows the different images based on the viewing angles of the two vehicle occupants, says Frank Homann, Continental vice president-North American interior electronics solution group.

“It’s a very cool system,” Homann says. “It allows the driver to get important driving information, while at the same time the passenger can enjoy a movie.”

The dual-mode display addresses driver-distraction safety issues and laws in eight states that prohibit driver-oriented video entertainment systems on the grounds that movie-watching motorists are accidents in the works.

The system currently is available on Toyota Motor Corp.’s Lexus LS 460 flagship sedan in Japan. Continental will introduce it in Europe next year.

“It will be in premium cars at first, then hopefully find its way into other cars in due time,” Homann says.

Continental is introducing the dual-mode display as part of a multi-media platform developed in conjunction with Microsoft Corp.

The system becomes more plausible in the future as Homann has forecast the imminent demise of CD players, which eat up valuable center stack space.

– with Christie Schweinsberg

sfinlay@wardsauto.com