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Configurable Automotive Displays Are Popular With Engineers As Well As Drivers


NEW YORK - The availability of more applications for drivers has led to a shortage of dashboard space for information. Warning lights are multiplying and status information such as navigation instructions and entertainment details are competing for the driver’s attention. According to a new study from ABI Research, an emerging solution is a configurable screen that can handle multiple tasks.

“Driver information screens have begun to grow in popularity, and some of the main proponents are the product development departments within the automakers,” said David Alexander, principal analyst at ABI Research. “The product teams responsible for individual systems are realizing that the ability to communicate with the driver can have positive benefits both for their components and for the image of the vehicle overall. In many cases the information is already available, and can easily be sent as a simple message to the driver.”

The appearance of driver information screens – initially offered only in high-end vehicles – was not proclaimed with wild enthusiasm by marketing departments announcing the end of conventional instrumentation as we know it. It was ushered in quietly as an additional benefit. And with hindsight, says Alexander, that was the correct approach, as developers of the first all-digital instrument clusters have now concluded.

The world market for configurable driver instrument displays is expected to grow to about $1.75 billion by 2012. Tier One suppliers such as Denso, Siemens VDO, and Visteon will capitalize on this market if they can develop attractive, configurable solutions for their OEM customers without needing a cost increase.

Configurable displays offer a big benefit for today’s multinational automakers: messages can be stored in many different languages, which the driver can select. The need to avoid using words (which required a different instrument panel for each country) led to the development of the universal symbol library for lights and switches, but not all of these are instantly recognized by everyone. With its choice of languages, the configurable instrument panel has the ability to simplify the driver’s life after many years of steadily increasing complexity.


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