Nobody is exactly sure what the automobile interior of the future is going to look like, but CES 2017 gave us some clues. At the Volkswagen booth, a high-tech interior concept with a three-dimensional dashboard, negt-gen head-up display, and eye tracking gave us a glimpse of how automakers may combine sweet graphics with technology designed to minimize distraction. Check out the video above to see how the Volkswagen Interactive Experience is supposed to work, then come back for some thoughts on what didn't. Spoiler alert: this future stuff is hard.

The coolest bit of tech in VW's interior concept is the three-dimensional gauge cluster. There are two LCD screens, one in front of the other. The top layer is usually transparent, meaning you can see the screen behind it pretty much all the time. When that front screen is lit and you can see both screens, the result is a cool 3D effect that requires no special glasses and looks way more realistic than anything achievable with a single panel.

A more traditional touch-sensitive LCD serves as the infotainment screen. The content is tailored specifically for the driver through the use of an individual Volkswagen User ID. That means any VW vehicle, even a rental, that a driver uses will know his or her preferred settings. Finally, the AR Head-Up Display projects information directly onto the windshield like all HUDs do. Instead of a small window out of the driver's direct field of view, though, this augmented reality system can cast useful info over a much larger area, right where it's most applicable. Think virtual speed limit signs or overlaid street names.

Heading to CES, the tech I was most intrigued by was eye-tracking technology. Unfortunately, no matter how long I stared at a tiny little dot in VW's conceptual dash while the cameras tried to locate my eyes, the system failed. Undeterred, I tried again at the Bosch booth, which was demonstrating similar eye-tracking technology. And again, the system failed.

An engineer from VW thought the problem may have something to do with the lenses of my glasses. Apparently, there was an issue getting the cameras to see through polarized lenses, but that was resolved. My lenses, though, block over 90-percent of blue-spectrum light. That's supposed to help reduce eye strain for people who stare at computer screens all day. It may also have the side effect of breaking eye-tracking technology, at least at this early stage. I'll just have to try again next year.

Volkswagen Information


Share This Photo X