10/17/2008

Not your father's digital speedometer

Hey, remember those digital speedometers that some cars sported back in the 70s and 80s? You know, the ones that displayed your speed in huge flashing digits? The problem, of course, is that the display flickered at you every time you went faster or slower, which was practically all the time. Annoying as heck.

So when a colleague told me that QNX was working on a digital instrument cluster, my first reaction was "You've got to be kidding." But I spoke too soon; this thing is cool:



The cluster in this video was still being developed when the video was shot, so stay tuned: I hope to provide some updated videos or screenshots in the next few days. [Postscript: Since posting this entry, I've added some screenshots here and here.]

One thing I like about digital instrument clusters is that they're context sensitive: Put the car in drive, and you see a navigation display. Put it in reverse and you see a backup camera. And if they're done right, digital clusters can minimize driver distraction, since everything you need is right in front of you. No more looking over at a separate navigation screen or infotainment system -- everything is, quite literally, clustered in front of you.

And, besides, unlike your dad's digital speedometer, they're way cool.

BTW, QNX will be demoing this cluster -- along with some other very cool stuff -- at next week's Convergence 2008 automotive show, October 20 - 22. If you're in Detroit, check it out.

6 comments:

Andrew Poliak said...

Just to add to your blog: The first of these digital instrument clusters running QNX will be shipping in cars starting next year.

Anonymous coward said...

What sort of information is available to the driver? Is it just the usual suspects - speed, mileage, RPMs, and the like?

Bill said...

This *is* way cool. I really think this is they way to go for the kind of UIs customers will expect in their products. I did post previously about tools for this technology in my blog.

Paul N. Leroux said...

Dear anonymous: The idea is to combine speed, mileage, and other traditional cluster information with all the other information and content (nav, backup camera, iPod playback, etc.) that is finding its way into the car. Instead of having multiple displays, which can be annoying or distracting (or both), you can now have one. Personally, I'm hoping that automakers will allow car owners to have multiple settings: one cluster for mom, one for dad, etc.

Anonymous said...

Mercedes-Benz actually has an analog style speedometer using an LCD display in their S-Class. Very usefull...

CD track information, navigational information etc can be projected on the speedometer.

found some video's of it:

http://de.youtube.com/watch?v=scnN2tUI3Sg

http://de.youtube.com/watch?v=KHHCTIIWQVo

Enjoy, and keep up the good work. :-)

Paul N. Leroux said...

Thanks for the YouTube links, anonymous. These are cool examples of what is possible with digital instruments and clusters.