January 14, 2019

Supersizing Automobile Dashboards with Screens


There are some pretty troublesome trends that are in a parallel universe to the direction that cities are heading. While towns and places are encouraging walking and cycling to enhance retail bottom line and to make citizens healthier and more connected, the automotive industry is involved in their last private ownership/carbon gasp. That involves trucks and SUV’s, colossal rolling living rooms insulating occupants from the surrounding landscape, and splashy new items just unveiled in Las Vegas.

Reuters.com reports on the trend of  vehicles becoming “a display centred world”. Part of that trend shows screens  expanding on car dashboards including one that is 48 inches (1.22m) long in the Byton M-Byte car.

“Besides the center console, instrument clusters, which house driving controls, and rear-seat entertainment displays are both growing in size. Automakers like Audi (VOWG_p.DE) that combine the center console and instrument cluster often refer to a “cockpit,” necessitating a wide, sweeping screen, like Byton’s, and more consolidated computing power.”

These new dashboard screens mimic the Apple experience, and have touch features like an Ipad. There’s some tension in installing these wide screens as automakers have to work with outside tech industries to provide what they believe the market wants. While the automobile makers say that bigger screens will simplify functions and mean that the driver does not need to go through different applications to get to a wanted item on a screen- this may simply be a trend with no benefit.

How do you design a screen interface that is comfortable for a consumer to use, but does not distract with too much available applications or data? The Globe and Mail  questioned the safety of these large screens, noting that if it is illegal  for a driver to hold an iPad because it is too distracting, a huge dash mounted screen would also provide challenges. There is also no regulation or safety standard for the size of these screens or their content. “A 2017 study by the University of Utah for the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found that “In-Vehicle Information Systems take drivers’ attention off the road for too long to be safe.”

But don’t worry~A representative of the Ford Company has indicated that some screens would lock out when people drive, encouraging voice commands. But without universal regulation in an increasing digital world, there is no established test of how much is too much media as vehicle dashboards  become more information and media focused.


Image: Younginfotech.com


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      1. All of our touring trips on bike have used Garmin GPS devices mounted on the handlebars, with route instructions, logging of time/distance/elevation, etc. We had a week of turn by turn directions stored. That is the direct (bike) equivalent of these screens.

        Mechanically, advancements include aluminum (for those that want it), titanium (for those that want it), carbon fibre (for those that want it), sealed bearings, sealed chains, Gates belt drive (for those that want it), ceramic bearings, disk brakes, onboard power measurement, cadence monitors, tubeless tires, Kevlar reinforced tires, powder coating for corrosion resistance, multi speed (11 speed cassette for those that want it), electronic shifting with automatic trim, e-bikes (for those that want them)….the list goes on.

        1. Aluminum is inferior to steel. Titanium is too expensive. Carbon fibre is too fragile. Sealed bearings are good. Disc brakes are a silly on a city bike, and you have to be sure your spokes are strong to withstand the torsional forces. Hydraulically operated discs are even sillier. Tough tires are awesome. Improved cassettes are nice.
          The worst “improvement” since about 1985 are suspensions. Makes sense if your thing is racing down mountains, but energy-sucking ( the Deadly Bob) for commuting; and they make fitting fenders, rack, and panniers problematic.

          1. Cro-moly frames for the city bikes. Roller brakes there, low maintenance and good in the wet. Cro-moly with a carbon fork for the touring bike, with hydraulic disks. That fork is not at all fragile, it is designed and built for front panniers and rack, and the disk brake. Puncture resistant tires on the city bike, but not on the others, as they give up road feel. Carbon frame, fork, and components for the sport bike. Never had a problem with the strength of it, but it isn’t designed for touring loads. Lots of aluminum on all three bikes, just not the frames or forks. Suspensions are better suited to pogo sticks than road bikes. Mountain bikers will differ.

            Different bikes for different uses, if one has space to store them. And a Mobi membership as well.

      2. Oh, I meant as far as more distractions for drivers and therefore more crashes with people and things outside vehicles.
        Being entertained inside is fine for the passengers but the driver should be paying attention.

        We really just need to limit the amount of motor vehicles in places where people are.

  1. Call me an old fart, but I look back fondly on radios that had two knobs and five pushbuttons (six if it was AM/FM). Every time I go from my 2008 Ford Ranger pick-up to our 2016 Fiat 500 it takes far too long to remember where the controls for lights and windshield washers are located, much less just how they work. And don’t get me started on the time and multiple button pushes needed to connect my phone via bluetooth.

    In an auto the ideal interface is one that uses one hand, and which doesn’t force you to take your eyes off the road. That means tactile, mechanical switches, not yelling “OK Google” at the dashboard.

    That involves trucks and SUV’s, colossal rolling living rooms

    Can we make a distinction between actually sensible sized trucks that have a valid use case, and the SUVs and monster F-350s that have utterly no practical function in a city. There’s a reason why there are so many ten and fifteen year old Ford Rangers on the roads – including in municipal fleets: they’re so perfect for hauling stuff in an urban environment.

  2. It’s called competition. Good on car makers to try to improve the car driving experience. Transit providers need to do the same. After years of riding on dirty crowed busses with smelly and obnoxious people – I was so happy to get a car. Today I’d prefer to walk or drive and avoid transit, especially busses, like the plague. Even if it takes longer.

    That is – until I rode in the first class car on the Dubai Metro. Twice the fare but; individual club style leather seats, tray tables, freshened air con, news/info screens, and attendants to keep the riff-raff out.. Wow.

    Now, if Translink had that offer I’d pay double or even triple to ride in style. Special first class entries/exits to get thru the mobs at stations would help too.

    Transit providers need to think like car makers, or more appropriately, like airlines.

  3. Drive one of these vehicles and expect to be pulled over for distracted driving, big fines, and impounded vehicles, unfit for safe operation. Big, big problems coming down the road.

  4. This is smoke and mirrors for an industry almost as vile as tobacco.
    Like most idiot males, I had an unhealthy relationship with motor vehicles.
    But for the last 30 years I’ve been reading Phil Edmonston’s yearly Lemon-Aid books. If you don’t, that would explain why people buy such garbage vehicles; why so many are under water.
    Would also recommend Remar Sutton’s book: Don’t Get Taken Every Time. It’s written from the perspective of ace car salesman “Killer Monsoon”; funny and informative.
    “Drive it Forever” by Sikorsky is also useful, but it’s easier to just log on to Scotty Kilmer – a mechanic for over 50 years, whose father was a mechanic.” He’ll set you straight.
    Why are vehicles so expensive? Because you are getting hosed left right and centre.
    This is a commodity business, masquerading as something else. There are enough vehicles in North America to last us a hundred years.
    It’s a bit like expensive watches. Why does anyone have a watch?

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