I had the opportunity to drive a BMW the other day with al all digital instrument display panel. Car manufacturers have something to learn about design. The display tried really hard to look like an analogue one, reflections, depth effects, glow edges, gradients. The whole thing feels very PowerPoint 2007 / Windows 7 / Nokia to me.

Also, a digital display opens up the possibility to re-arrange how the smaller data elements are displayed (kms, fuel tank, etc. etc.), but BMW did not (yet) do that.

Car instrument panels are up for a big shake up. I think the answer is not displays that mimic analog gear, plus eliminating buttons and replace them with touch screens and menu diving. Instead, I would opt for a beautiful, minimal display of essential information, and actually, very high quality, regular "analogue" buttons.

It affects not only the user/driver experience today, but also whether cars will eventually turn into a classic or not. To make the parallel with electronics, old gear from the 1960s / 1970s can still look/work beautiful, while designs from the 1980s and 1990s with low res/poor digital interfaces look cheap and ugly. Digital displays that look advanced today, will be totally obsolete in 5 years from now.

We will see what happens.

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