Half a croissant, on a plate, with a sign in front of it saying '50c'
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Dynamic Dashboard Display

Dashboard display reconfigures itself when it needs to
  (+34, -3)(+34, -3)(+34, -3)
(+34, -3)
  [vote for,
against]

I propose the standard collection of analog gauges in a car be replaced with a large high-resolution color LCD display -- the kind of high-quality display they use in modern aircraft that can self-adjust to be easily viewed in all lighting conditions. This display would not have to be in the boring rectangular shape typical of LCD displays. Instead, it would have the smooth shaped curves of a typical automotive gauge cluster.

By default, this "glass dashboard" would display a set of gauges that look just like the analog ones everyone is used to. At a quick glance under most circumstances, you wouldn’t even notice that it's an LCD display.

Then suppose your engine starts to overheat. The temperature gauge, which is normally one of many tiny gauges along the edges of the display, would slowly grow in size to indicate a growing cause for concern. Perhaps the background color of the gauge could slowly start to turn a shade of yellow or orange as well. The other gauges would become slightly smaller and be displaced to one side by the still-growing temperature gauge. Various other creative animations could be used to draw attention to the escalating situation as well.

The display could also be programmed to operate in different modes. In "normal" mode, the speedometer would be more prominent and the other parameters may be relegated down to idiot lights. Of course, these idiot lights would turn into growing gauges if a problem cropped up. You might also have a mileage display in "normal" mode. In "sport" mode, the speedometer would be smaller and the tachometer would be more prominent. The mileage display would be replaced by a G-meter. The car’s computer could also be programmed to automatically change the dashboard mode if it detects aggressive driving.

Putting the car in reverse would turn the entire display into a combination sonar display and rear-facing camera’s monitor. Activating a turn signal at highway speeds would turn the appropriate half of the display into a sonar display. The possibilities are limitless.

Lastly, this display would be user-programmable. The owner could use a commonly known programming language (Macromedia Flash, for example) to create his or her own dashboard behavior. You could download personalities or themes created by other people, too.

harebrained, Dec 08 2005

In the oven... http://www.st.com/s...4thedi00/chal06.htm
ACTIVE project (Arbitrarily Configurable Customer Tailored Instrument for Vehicle application) - even mentions the "dashboard theme". [lurch, Dec 11 2005]

Mostly baked by Mercedes Benz http://mediablog.ma...chive/2005/12/1786/
The new S-Class has such a dashboard - although not user-programmable in Flash, and it doesn't replace all the gauges. For normal driving, it shows a picture of a speedometer. Select reverse and it changes to the reversing camera screen. Oh - it also has night-vision. [FishFinger, Dec 06 2006]

[link]






       Too practical... this will undoubtedly be baked within the next 15 years. But pastry anyway.   

       Processing power is already cheap enough, and the LCD is getting there. This would likely be integrated with the entertainment / navigation / climate system as well, so that your control theme would be consistant on the center stack as well. Why not show the radio station / song playing on your dash and throw the voltmeter down near your ashtray? This would also make it easy to add the less common gauges people like me care about, but sensors probe, like intake air temperature, and manifold pressure. Why not offer visualization plugins for stoichiometry (air/fuel) gauge?   

       I believe the Chrysler Pacifica offers a small LCD under the traditonal speedo that offers optional rear camera when in reverse gear, and navigation in any other gear. Thats the closest example I can think of...an LCD right in the cluster. It will happen.   

       Consider expanding this idea with a touchscreen, and the possibilities are amazing.
ed, Dec 08 2005
  

       Liability will dictate how the display behaves and will likely preclude installing instrument schemes that haven't been designed and exhaustively tested by the auto manufacturer.
bristolz, Dec 08 2005
  

       This gets my vote. The customization would be a key element in being able to suit the needs of the driver. The system could also have a standard default mode for someone who is not familiar with the car or they may not want to be bothered with having to configure the console.   

       When driving the only thing I need to see is the speedometer and the fuel gague. Everything else could run in the background and appear when there is a problem. Another good feature would be to have some sort of speed warning. Say that the speed limit is 55 so you set the warning for 65. That way you dont find yourself doing 70+ MPH unknowingly only to be faced with a state trooper who will gladly make you aware of it.
Jscotty, Dec 09 2005
  

       From my experience with interface design, you're messing with something that needs to be constant under sometimes very stressful conditions.   

       If you don't know where to look for some vital gauge, you may well be too disoriented to deal with the tractor-trailer cutting in front of you or the sudden cross winds.   

       The dashboard is a secondary to driving - the most important information is outside the windscreen, where conditions are constantly changing - so you really don't want things changing on you inside.   

       Now, if the dashboard changed only *in response* to the driver (pressing a button, say), then it becomes predictable again. Of course, my car does that already (not the whole dashboard, but a display in the middle of the speedometer). So, a limited croissant based on that caveat.
DrCurry, Dec 09 2005
  

       //will absolutely preclude installing instrument schemes that haven't...// Indeed, but there’s plenty of room in aftermarketville for this. Like Dyno Chips, they will be installed regardless.
Shz, Dec 09 2005
  

       In the case of a dashboard display the manufacturer would have to make it third-party accessible (as chip sockets are accessible) and I seriously doubt that they will due to liability issues surrounding potential failures caused by a 3rd party display modification. Yeah, it's a naysayer attitude but one informed by personal experience. Car manufacturers will not release control of the instrument cluster to anyone. Period.
bristolz, Dec 09 2005
  

       [Ed]I never thought touchscreens in cars were a good idea because they have no tactile feedback. You have to take your eyes off the road for longer than a glance to operate them.   

       [Bris] Auto manufacturers don't appear to worry much about their liability with third-party aftermarket modifications. If they did, they would make braking and steering systems a lot harder to modify. Petrolheads today love swapping out their factory gauges for aftermarket ones, and auto makers today don't make that terribly difficult to do.   

       [Curry] I believe your concerns can be addressed through intelligent interface design. One would not create "normal" and "sport" modes that are significantly different. Nor would an oversized temperature gauge significantly disrupt the layout of the display.   

       Your point, however, is well taken. It is probably not a good idea for the turn signals to significantly change the display layout as I proposed. It's pretty easy to accidentally hit the turn-signal stalk during an accident-avoidance maneuver. A sudden and drastic change of dashboard layout might be distracting at that kind of critical moment.   

       Any significant change of interface layout, design or behavior would require a change in theme or personality, which would only be done intentionally by the user. Maybe the user would have to agree to (*cringe*) an EULA when switching from the default display scheme.
harebrained, Dec 09 2005
  

       [hare] Good point. The touchscreen would need to provide feedback without requiring to look at it. It would have to offer different textures easily felt by a wandering finger. I think this could spawn a new idea...
ed, Dec 10 2005
  

       + AutoSoft.com
fh, Dec 10 2005
  

       I've been considering this (even before reading this) and found some problems, most of them with the display itself.   

       -Glare/readability: Sunlight or just a bright day could make an LCD difficult to read. Cold temperatures slow down LCDs, so it has to be kept warm or everything on it will just sort of smear. My regular analog dash worked great even at -40. Once Field Emissive Displays hit the market this idea becomes more viable. You'd also need a light sensor or something to automatically dim and brighten the display.   

       +Customization: Especially good for those who modify their car. Add pressure monitors for peace of mind. Add an IR camera and use the display as a night driving aid.   

       I'd use something like a chopped-up game controller at the edge of the screen to change modes. Display would only change without prompting if there was a serious (pull over!) fault, like no oil pressure. You could make automatic display changes less attention-grabbing by making them gradual- gauges grow/shrink slowly.
Souse Mouse, Dec 10 2005
  

       The flat screen could flip down to uncover a basics-only mechanical instrument set.   

       I have a nagging doubt about manufacturers' liability concerns. Take my current vehicle, for instance. It has a number of indicators whose purpose is utterly unfathomable without recourse to the owner's manual. However, said manual describes 11 different instrument panel layouts, none of which match my vehicle, or even show the existance of the indicators in question. Does Ford care? Sure, they told me that the problem had been fixed with the next year's model and I should just trade in the old car.   

       I think that if the manufacturer is reluctant to allow others to muck around with the dashboard, it's aesthetics, not liability. As the driver, your "experience" of their product is all by feel - something that manufacturers pay a lot of attention to - and sound - another point of key interest. The only part of the car you see while driving is the dashboard. If, when you glance down, you're seeing something that is not the manufacturer's product, but a third party's, they have lost a critical part of the customer linkage.   

       I mean, be honest - if failure were a critical issue, wouldn't instrument clusters be lit with LEDs instead of incandescent bulbs?
lurch, Dec 10 2005
  

       I've had the opportunity to work directly with a few auto manufacturers on AutoPC and other device integration projects and I can only report what my experiences have been. They steadfastly refuse--all of them--to cede any control of the operational instrument cluster to any third party modification, whether permanent or temporary. This includes things like having your cell phone "merge" with nav systems or adding functionality by association with portable or installed devices.   

       By this, I mean they won't roll new cars out of dealerships with such capabilities in place.   

       Perhaps were there an agreed-upon standard-- and the attendant factory provisions--for third party devices to alter or override normal instrumentation would I agree that this idea is plausible and realistic. As it stands now, I don't think auto manufacturers will abet such actions simply because they won't want to indemnify third parties against liability for failures that lead to injury or loss of life.   

       At least in aviation there is the TSO standard for avionics, including glass cockpit systems.
bristolz, Dec 10 2005
  

       Thanks for the info [bris]. They weren't so locked down when I was modifying my cars, but that was twen- <ahem> a while ago.
Shz, Dec 10 2005
  

       A very good idea, [ed] was right - I can see this being available within years. Bun [+]
Mr Phase, Dec 11 2005
  

       [+] for the ability to change the scale of the spedometer. Why does it go up to 200MPH when the speed limit is 70, and the car is barely capable of anything over 100?
Aq_Bi, Dec 11 2005
  

       I think Lexus had something like this. Or maybe it was Mercedes. But anyway, I don't think it would change the gauges, just fit more information into the display.
discontinuuity, Dec 11 2005
  

       The aircraft world has already got this far. I remember going into the flightdeck of Tristars and 747s when I was little and marvelling at the gauges and switches. Then when I was a little older I had a look at the flightdeck of an A320 and marvelled at the two LCD screens and two joysticks that resembled what I used to shoot space invaders with.   

       Then some eejits crashed planes into the US and now my son isn't allowed to see all the good stuff on flights.
wagster, Dec 11 2005
  

       //Liability will dictate how the display behaves and will likely preclude installing instrument schemes that haven't been designed and exhaustively tested by the auto manufacturer//   

       Maybe, unfortunately, in countries where litigation frenzy has gone mad but I can't see an issue under UK law. You don't even have to have a speedometer etc in the UK.   

       //When driving the only thing I need to see is the speedometer and the fuel gague.//   

       [js] do you not look at the tach, engine temp, fuel efficiency, clock etc?
webfishrune, Dec 06 2006
  

       [+] Bun, though I think that an LED display might be better than an LCD display. Or for more energy efficiency, an electronic paper display.
goldbb, May 22 2009
  
      
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