After CES we showed a proposed self-driving car that had a dashboard that went fully from side to side, but we missed this one from Harman and Samsung that is for a car that humans, not robots drive: a Maserati GranCabrio. It's not a dashboard, it's a "digital cockpit." According to CNET:
Harman's Digital Cockpit takes advantage of OLED screens, which can fit over curved surfaces. An OLED down the center console doesn't even look like a screen, yet it shows touch controls that the driver can change, digging into deeper menus to customize the car's interface. Car designers should appreciate being able to place a curved screen on any surface around the dashboard to give the driver useful information or easily accessible controls.
Virtual assistants present a lot more flexibility and power than onboard voice recognition systems, letting users connect with the world at large, instead of just in-car systems.
According to Car Magazine, we're just getting started.
The Korean electronics giant Samsung, famed for its phones and TVs, bought high-end audio maker Harman for $8bn in 2016, to help access its car industry relationships and mine the connected car trend. The Maserati was enabled using Samsung technology – processors, screens, cameras – combined with a Harman/Kardon eight-speaker sound system and navigation. And it could be in a production car in two years.
We have noted before that studies show that Infotainment systems care serious distractions for drivers. The AAA found that the bigger displays distracted more, with the Tesla being one of the worst. They wrote:
Today’s new features make placing a phone call or changing the radio more complicated by requiring drivers to maneuver through complex menu systems using touch screens or voice commands rather than use of simple knobs or buttons. Many of the latest systems also now allow drivers to perform tasks unrelated to driving like surfing the web, checking social media or sending a text message- all things drivers have no business doing behind the wheel.
It's funny as I shift into curmudgeon mode because my first car, an old 1965 Volkswagen Beetle, didn't even have a gas gauge, just a lever for a reserve tank when you ran out. There was a speedometer, period. In my 1989 Miata, there is a tachometer and a speedometer and a gas gauge and that is it. Perhaps it is time to rethink how much crap we are putting into our cars and get rid of some of it. Especially if you are going to be in a Maserati you want to concentrate on the road. Too many distractions!