Will Touch Screens Replace Dashboards in Vehicles?

By: | April 10th, 2017

Flickr CC/Nicolas Nova

We’re all familiar with the makeup of a standard dashboard — you can get behind the wheel of any car and find the speedometer, the fuel gauge, and the temperature gauge without too much trouble. Of course, as technology changes, dashboards have started changing, too. Touch screens and interactive HUDs, or heads up displays, appear on more and more new car models.  Will these touch screens replace traditional dashboards?

Tesla Model 3’s Center Screen

Don’t expect to see a speedometer in Tesla’s new Model 3 when it finally hits the street — the new car is aiming toward a much heavier use of auto pilot with a single center screen instead of any of the accoutrements you’d expect to see on a dashboard.

This touch screen will have all of the information you would expect to see on the dashboard, as well as access to the entertainment system, all in one central location.

This is ideal for people who are going to rely heavily on the car’s autopilot option, but it isn’t winning over Tesla fans who would prefer their dash at least have a centralized speedometer.

Not Just for Cars Anymore

Touch screens are most often associated with phones and tablets, and now they are working their way into the automotive industry, but they’re not stopping there. Touch screens are making their way into the construction industry as well, providing a new level of safety and efficiency.

Newer CAT equipment, for example, comes equipped with touch screens that show everything from fuel level and coolant temperature to hydraulic pressure, speed, and even the feed from backup cameras. It can take a while to get used to the new screen because it does centralize all of the controls into one small screen, but once you get past the learning curve, it could potentially make your job easier and safer.

Keeping It Centered

Not everyone loves the new central touch screen idea — some Tesla drivers want a traditional speedometer behind the steering wheel because it keeps the driver’s eyes on the road if they’re not using the auto pilot.

Legislators are also concerned about the addition of touch screens to cars, calling them a dangerous distraction similar to cell phones or other smart devices. It’s already illegal in much of the country to text or use your phone while driving. Despite this, car manufacturers are adding new touch screens and technology to nearly every new car that rolls off the production line.

Centralized touch screens might make it easier for your passengers to change the radio station or decide what the air conditioner should be set at, but for the driver, a touch screen could be seen as a distraction because you have to take your eyes away from the road ahead of you to check your speed or your engine temperature.

Elon Musk is pretty good about responding to his fans, especially when they’ve got questions for him about the new Tesla models. If you’ve got your heart set on the new Model 3, though, don’t ask him about adding a speedometer to the dashboard.  He’s only got one thing to say to that request — a resounding NO.

Marshall Smith

Technology, engineering, and design enthusiast.

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