Posted tagged ‘Detroit auto show’

Detroit rocks and shocks

January 24, 2015

The dashboard of a car is rapidly becoming an aircraft cockpit of numbers, icons, guages, indicator lights, speedometers and miles from the dark side of the moon reading. Before long the yaw, pitch and roll will be in there somewhere. In some vehicles the display built into the centre console is bigger than a widescreen television.

It’s still not enough for motorists.

Information demand for drivers isn’t sinkholing or subsiding, it’s gaining traction. Therefore, the dashboard console will soon have a sister competing for the driver’s attention: the windshield.

At the current Detroit auto show you’ll find demonstrations of cars with built-in projectors displaying speed, range, turn-by-turn directions, and other crucial data along the bottom of the windshield. You will think you’ve wandered onto an Iron Man film.  All this information overload reminds me of a “Future Shocks” short story I read in the 2000AD comic in 1980AD.

The protagonist undergoes a series of lessons where knowledge is fired into his brain; he becomes super-brainy. Teeming with facts he is revving with confidence. As he walks to his last session a motor accident takes place in front of him. A car is hurtling out of control into pedestrians. The brainy guy sizes up all the angles-speed, distance etc, first year physics was part of the programme- figuring he is so smart he will avert danger. He jumps in front of the vehicle with the intention of redirecting it to safety. Unfortunately, he is ran over and killed. In the laboratory the scientist wonders about his pupil’s absence. He has missed the last lesson: how to make decisions fast.

Head-up displays are going overboard on motor vehicles. (There’s a mixed-up metaphor for you). But HUD technology from automakers, the clutterati, is here to stay and get bigger. Warnings and statistics will be displayed for the horse power loving driver to peruse at leisure, while concentrating on the road, of course, of course. The only statistic I want to know is how many wickets Alfred Shaw took on the deck of the Lusitania in 1894AD. I don’t think the windscreen HUD (or google, blast you) can help me on that one.

Heated seat buttons and hydraulic boot lifters mean nothing to me. The future shocks dash might be able to tell me the amount of pebbles in the road ahead, the ethnicity of the woman at the zebra crossing and the predicted number one for Christmas 2015AD. It interests me not a torque. The onboard computer is like raspberry juice on an ice-cream. Nice but not needed. As long as my car moves and is not the colour green, to quote the aerodynamically shaped Cheryl Fernandez-Versini “I don’t care”.