At CES, Texas Instruments gave a glimpse into what sort of controls and displays might be in our cars within the next few years, as conventional knobs and dials continue to go the way of do-do bird and window cranks.
A prototype mockup at the show showed a smorgasbord of technologies, from customizable digital dashboards and center screen displays with tactile feedback, to augmented reality head up displays.
Texas Instruments says their displays are brighter and have better resolution than other systems currently available thanks to the use of Digital Light Processing (DLP) technology, which is widely used in smart phone and tablet displays.
The use of DLP will allow for wider heads-up displays in color to present more navigation and other information in the driver's line of sight. Safety warnings and augmented reality landmark navigation are intended to help keep the driver focused on the road ahead.
In the center dash display, Texas Instruments showed a dizzying array of entertainment and information options that frankly look like they could only increase distraction. But the technology company says they can control what options are available to the driver and allow access to other functions by only the front seat passenger.
An interesting touch is the use of virtual "knobs" built into the center screen that can be customized to perform different functions. These give drivers a firm target, rather than trying to hit a spot on the screen.
Texas Instruments says they are working with automakers now with the aim of introducing some of these technologies into new cars within the next couple of years. The challenge will be, as always, to deliver the information drivers want without increasing distraction.
See our complete CES 2013 coverage.