Autocar has teamed up with Jaguar to design the dashboard of the future. Making use of the new XJ’s TFT screen technology, the concepts reveal how the dashboard will evolve in the next decade. From retro plug-ins to track day specials, the display of information will be revolutionised.
The ‘black hole’ dashboard was one of the most striking features of the XJ when it was launched. Following Land Rover’s lead, Jag’s designers had ditched ‘real’ dials in favour of a virtual, computer screen display. The graphics it showed were relatively conventional, but it did get us thinking. Could we not reprogram the dash in the same way that we personalise our smart phones?
A trip to Jaguar’s design studio at Whitley revealed we were not alone with our thoughts. Mark Humphries is the Experience Design Manager and was responsible for developing the XJ’s dashboard technology. “The decision to create a virtual dashboard was taken very early in the development process,” he says. “We looked at lots of different influences. We’re all used to iPhone apps but we also spent a day with the Eurofighter team. Their ‘glass cockpit’ filters the information to reveal only what the pilot needs at that moment.”
This inspiration is reflected in all our concepts, which are clutter-free. Touring mode re-interprets a traditional analogue design theme with graphics that mimic authentic luxury materials. The ‘Jaguar butler’ facility uses artificial intelligence to combine data from the outside world, such as your diary entries, with the car’s key functions.
Track mode is inspired by the gaming world, and mixes circuit and vehicle data. There’s even an option to upload your lap straight to YouTube. Heritage mode mimics the Smiths Instruments’ dials found in the E-type. Even the toggle switches are animated, even though they’re controlled by a thoroughly modern touchscreen. The most futuristic of our designs is Stealth Mode, which apes the Eurofighter by providing only the information you need, when you need it.
“There are some legislative hurdles to be overcome,” says Humphries, “such as the need to show warning lights when you start the car. And the physicality of the viewing area hasn’t changed because it’s still defined by the steering wheel and the driver’s position, but beyond that there’s huge scope for invention.”
The current generation XJ does not allow software updates of this nature, but Humphries admits it would be “hard not to” imagine the technology being introduced in the next few years. With other manufacturers certain to follow Jaguar Land Rover’s lead, we could be about to witness a new explosion in the ‘app’ economy.