I've seen the future, and there are no analog gauges in cars. The future of automotive dashboards and displays is digital displays, fully configurable and programmable. I am not saying that capacitive touch controls will be the dominant human interface in cars, as that is far from certain at this point. But I am saying that the gauges and information will be rendered on digital displays.

I came to this realization after pondering the display in the C7 and new CTS. Just like the design of the cars themselves, the new digital displays make the 'old-fashioned' mechanical, analog gauges with physically moving needles and indicators seem so, well, old-fashioned. I am sure some will wax nostalgic over the loss of the mechanical sense that comes from a moving needle, and there will never be a need to tap a stuck dial. There is an argument to be made about the loss of information that occurs with a digital representation of an analog system, similar to CDs versus analog vinyls records, but in this application I see much more benefit from the customizable and reconfigurable digital displays and the unique information they can represent than any loss from the analog gauge.

For example, here are some shots of the reconfigurable display in the new CTS. The representation of analog gauges is very good, where after a little adjustment period I don't notice that they aren't mechanical. As the resolution of these displays increase the difference will become even less.


Notice the boost gauge inside the tach. The inside of the speedometer can be configured with a nav display or other screens.

This is the 'performance' screen. Notice the boost display in the center section. Other info can be displayed in the center of the speedo and in between the tach and speedo.

Here is a balanced view, where various screens and be selected in different areas. Navigation and infotainment data included.

I don't think we should lament the loss of analog, mechanical gauges. With proper design a digital display can convey the same information in a better way. The panel displays are a different and better approach than earlier attempts at digital displays. See the S2000 dash here, although very effective, it cannot be customized and changed in any way.

As I was looking through screen configuration options on the new CTS, I noticed a page labeled 'open source' which was the standard open source usage agreement. Hmm, that opens the door to lots of interesting ideas if the displays can be customized in the aftermarket.


What do you think? Are the new displays the work of the devil or are we moving toward a better way to display information?