• Aug 29th 2008 at 10:32AM
  • 15
This is the kind of computerized world we can get behind -- not the kind that drives for you whether you like it or not, but the one that allows you to do your human thing even better. Futuremark has created a concept instrument and dash cluster for Audi that is rendered entirely in 3D graphics. In the Nissan GT-R, you can change the center console screen to show or highlight the gauges you want. With Futuremark's dashboard, you can create any kind of dashboard layout, color scheme, gauge look... you name it... that you want.

Using its Open GL ES engine (that's Open Graphics Library for Embedded Systems) for the API (that's Application Program Interface), Futuremark wants to show what's coming -- or at least, what's possible -- for in-car information and entertainment systems. We're not really worried about the acronyms; as far as we're concerned, we're talking about the tweakability of video games brought to life in hot cars. Amen to that. The system will be on display at the NVISION in San Jose. Follow the jump for the full press release, and a word for Audi: yes.

[Source: Crunchgear]


San Jose, California – Aug. 25th, 2008 – Futuremark, creators of the industry standard benchmarking software for graphics performance for OpenGL ES and DirectX APIs, has created a demonstration for Audi's In-Car Graphics System future concept to be shown for the first time at NVISION in San Jose. It delivers a fully rendered car dashboard and all instruments shown in a 3D view, including 3D navigation using stunning and realistic effects and viewsas well as a 3D car infotainment system with vehicle info and cool 3D environmental controls rendered in real-time for on-road Automotive usage.

"We are delighted to work with Audi due to their professional expertise in the car industry," said Petri Talala, Vice President and General Manager of the Handheld and Embedded Group at Futuremark Oy., "Audi is a leader in this field with sophisticated, real-time rendered and high quality content available for future infotainment systems, and being able to have our graphics engine experts and artists contribute to this effort is very special for Futuremark."

In-Car graphics systems are evolving rapidly with an increasing amount of digital instrumentation used inside of automotive designs. Khronos APIs such as OpenGL and OpenGL ES will be widely adopted for rendering backend of digital instrumentation. With this new automotive demo, Futuremark is showing the flexibility of both its OpenGL ES engines and its art pipelines that were used to deliver this project on an entirely new platform to Audi's delight. The Engines and Pipeline Tools used to create the demo are all available for licensing directly from Futuremark. Also offered are custom demo services for Automotive companies who want to show off tomorrows User Interface and Digital 3D designs for Automobiles today. Futuremark's has an upcoming automotive benchmark that is in development which will utilize real-world use cases such as car dashboard, info-system, and navigation workloads based on OpenGL ES 1.x and ES 2.0.

For more information on having Futuremark create your Automotive vision or for more information concerning Futuremark's Mobile and Embedded products, in Europe and Asia, contact Petri Talala. In North America contact Oliver Baltuch at the contact information below.

About Futuremark Corporation Futuremark Corporation serves the mobile industry with professional application performance analysis tools and workloads. Our world renowned product portfolio includes 3DMark®Mobile for OpenGL ES 1.x and OpenGL ES 2.0, VGMark™ for OpenVG 1.x, and SPMark™ for Symbian, Windows Mobile, Linux and mobile Java. In addition, we license digital content creation tool chain middleware to 3D application developers, chip vendors and handset manufacturers. For more information, please visit www.futuremark.com

© 2008 Futuremark® Corporation. 3DMark®, PCMark®, SPMark™, VGMark™ and YouGamers™ trademarks and logos, Futuremark® character names and distinctive likenesses, are the exclusive property of Futuremark Corporation.

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 7 Years Ago
      No, no, no this is all wrong!! Being of a generation accustomed to everything having digital displays cars are just the place for them. Having custom navigation or audio displays I'm all for, but leave the speedo- and tach in place. Audi is known for having the most stylish interiors in the class why mess with perfection, especially if customers are satisfied with your formula. I see this gimmick as a fun way to amuse those who are buying a VW but at the price point of an Audi I would have to pass on it everytime.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Customizable gauges aren't the issue; it's the same information that you'd get with a physical gauge, perhaps more accurately as there's no mechanical lag. This isn't 1980, and this ain't the C4 Vette.

      The problem is the centre stack and the lack of physical buttons. This is okay for an iPhone when 100% of your focus is on the device, but in a car you'll want feedback. The trend towards billions of indistinuishable buttons is bad enough; this does away with buttons entirely.

      Imagine using your iPhone while driving. See the problem?

      Your primary controls (climate, radio, lights) should be big knobs with obvious detents and easy placement; secondary controls (radio presets, track selection, ESC control) are smaller knobs or buttons (well spaced and distinct). Only tertiary controls (ACC preferences) can be stashed away. In all cases, the controls should be contextually placed.

      Take a look at, say, the Camry and Accord. The Camry does this right, even if the look is a little more cartoonish than the Accord: the knobs are big and arranged in context; the buttons are widely spaced and easy to hit, even with mitts. The Accord's controls aren't nearly so well-arranged or easy to pick out.
        • 7 Years Ago
        Agreed entirely.

        Controls are not to be completely un-haptic. This is what we discussed over in the Volt Dashboard thread. I have an iPhone, and use a bluetooth earpiece in the car, entirely hands free except one button by touch to pick up or end a call. The same is done in other cars with bluetooth speakerphone.

        But touch-screen for the driver is not fantastic, nor is non-descript buttons in a row.

        Display configurability and adaptability is great.

        Controls should be on the stalks, and on the steering wheel, and driver's reach on the center console, and all be REAL buttons.

        Displays are what should be variable, and just as well thought out.

        As for the "needles" vs. "no-needles" debate.

        With a display, you can have either one.

        But there is a symbolic representation of seeing a proportionial pointer, that you can instantly recognize, much more than an alphanumeric.

        Bar-chart progression is better than digit-based alphanumerics. Reading takes time and attention moreso than symbolic recognition. Circular needle gauges are more compact than a bar-progression chart.

        Anything alphanumeric that requires reading attention should be projected in the windshield. the eye can re-focus much easier without changing angle and ambient light differential (iris closure), as much to have it superimposed on the outside world, where driver's attention should be maintained.

        Think of how long it takes to look down and notice a needle at the 11-o-clock position, versus looking down and reading the difference between 55 MPH and 65 MPH in text.

        Was that a 5 or a 6? or even an 8?

        And with such a quick glance and positional reference, a well rendered gauge is not going to be any different than a backlit plastic face and needle, other than perhaps having even less glare and reflectivity on an LCD display

        When you look at how cool the gauges look, when they sweep or whatever, on startup, an LCD can look just as cool, or even do more tricks. It will still impress the passengers. At speed while driving, it will be just as recognizable, and possibly more information rich in less heads-down-time than what we have now.

        Was there this much dissent when cars started putting variable and computerized information panels in the dashboard, between or beside the plastic gauges?

        Aircraft are more and more "glass cockpit" with intelligently designed information system display, to make a lot of information easily accessible, and only the necessary information at the front. Automotive applications can be just as much improved for far more people to use. Far more people 'pilot' their cars through mazes of traffic than actual pilots cross the skies. Benefits are benefits, for the most part.

        good haptic control design, and excellent active software display could be fantastic in a car. I've been wanting something like this for quite some time. Put HUD in the mix, while we're at it.
      • 7 Years Ago
      The worst part of this is that I bet Microsoft is lurking somewhere in the background waiting to offer an extremely cheap version of Windows Automotive (aka WinCE) to run this great new dash. So when you start your car, it'll take 2-3 minutes for your dashboard to boot and be fully functional.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Have you guys taken a look at a computer lately?

      Have you seen the rendering capability of most desktop and laptop computers?

      Shadowing and fine gradients are rendered so well, that they could probably be extremely close to an actual gauge.

      And do you realize that your "real guage" is just a servo motor moving a needle based on a digital signal from the CAN bus? It is digital clothed in false analog duds. How is that really better than a high quality LCD displaying a graphic gauge representation? The LCD is probably lighter weight, and brighter, and has more contrast in variable light.

      How about a different or larger font for the indicators? How about correcting for color blindness? How about just changing based on preferences?

      A rendered gauge can look almost indistinguishable from "real gauge". And skin-able. If a new car comes out with "better looking" gauges... load a new theme, like Windows or Mac OS, and your car has the new gauges.

      This is the sort of thing I was talking about in the Volt white dashboard thread, about SOFTWARE, not ill-considered hardware.

      How about a tach that can truly, and very easily change the redline based on oil and water temperature, or even traction control inputs? How about a tach that turns completely red when you pass the redline and hit the rev limiter by mistake (or not by mistake... I dunno how other people drive...)

      I am not a fan of some big-brother-type tech on cars. That is privacy and ethical issue.

      But clinging to analog gauges (that aren't analog anyway) because they are made of plastic, not a video signal that can look just the same is a bit superficial.

      My only wish for this type of advancement, is that more of it gets projected on the windshield to keep driver's eyes up and out, and to lessen interior light pollution and driver's eye fatigue at night.

      Even at low backlight levels, unless the display is mostly black, which is just a matter of the interface design, LCDs can be quite bright in an otherwise dark car at night, and potentially harm the driver's night vision.
        • 7 Years Ago
        I agree. A CG version of a needle is going to be indistinguishable if done right.

        But even if you had to have a needle, you could still put the needle in front of a dot matrix display. Then you could still change the redline, flash the whole thing red, anything you want.

        But I say ditch the needles. Race cars don't have them, haven't for years. When volt-ohmmeters (VOMs) first went digital, people resisted, partly because they weren't done very well. Then Fluke added a big bar graph with the numbers and took some time optimizing the speed of the digital display updates (actually slowing the overall update rate) and the results were far superior to needles or digital alone. Cars will follow eventually.
        • 7 Years Ago
        Its called the uncanny valley. The closer something gets to imitating the real thing, the harder it is for the human brain to accept it. Digital displays mimicking an anolg display is an awful idea.

        • 7 Years Ago
        Digital readouts, computerized displays and information projected on the windshield is very cool and some of the best interior designs for cars I've seen have all that. What they don't do though is try to be something they aren't by faking out an analog guage, what's the point of all that technology just to copy something so simple?

        What makes the computerized displays so cool is that they deliver the information in a totally new way that reinvents the way we think about automotive interiors. And what makes analog gauges like the IS300's so cool is that someone actually took the time to figure out all the mechanics of it and then built it. Once you combine the two you loose everything that's cool about computerized displays and everything that's great about analog gauges. Its no longer a forward thinking design because you are just copying something that already exists and yet it doesn't have the charm that comes from the craft of actually building something intricate like the dials on the IS300 because its just a computer image. In the end all you are left with is a knock off.

      • 7 Years Ago
      I like the Chevy bowtie nav screen next to the Audi sterring wheel.

      LExus IS300 had the best gauge cluster in a sub 75K automobile, bar none. sweet design and execution. you cant duplicate that kind of love with a digital screen.
        • 7 Years Ago
        Are you kidding?

        Not that the gauge cluster wasn't cool, it was.

        It would be EASIER to display that as well designed software than executing that watch chronograph gauge cluster mechanically. It would probably be less expensive as software/LCD screen, and more information rich, too.

        And any car could have it, if that sort of thing became somewhat industry standard, and skin-able, as it should.
        • 7 Years Ago
        Glad I'm not the only one who noticed the Chevy logo in Audi's new digi-dash.
      • 7 Years Ago
      There a reason why the nav unit looks like a Chevy Bowtie? LOL
      • 7 Years Ago
      I love the gauge section but I'm not feeling the chevy bowtie nav screen.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Digital displays give me nightmares of the my mom's old Mercury Cougar. That dash never had an accurate display in its entire life. Plus i'm a purist, i like analog gauges.
      • 7 Years Ago
      I don't need skins on my dash. This isn't winamp. What I need is one well designed UI.

      I do believe this is the future though. Even instrument clusters will go to pixel matrix displays, once they figure out one that will keep working in the heat of a car dashboard and can be read day and night.
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