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Hyundai's cockpit of the future involves massive steering wheel screens

Roadshow logo Roadshow 4/2/2019 Andrew Krok
a close up of a car: Somehow, there's still room for an airbag in there.© CNET

Somehow, there's still room for an airbag in there.

If you've been in any number of new cars in the past year or so, you might marvel at how many screens automakers have been able to jam into 'em. Now, Hyundai's looking at a place for additional screens that, until now, has been relegated to the realm of concept cars.

Hyundai on Tuesday unveiled its latest study on the future of the cockpit. In addition to more clever layouts for screens in traditional locations, like the gauge cluster and dashboard center stack, the automaker has also added two large touchscreens to either side of a steering wheel. It's presenting the concept in a Euro-spec Hyundai i30 hatchback.

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Most steering wheels have buttons that let you control features such as the radio volume or which screen is displayed on the gauge cluster. But Hyundai's steering wheel screens remove those static buttons in favor of something more dynamic, allowing the owner to select what functions will appear on the steering wheel. The screens are loaded with haptic feedback to ensure button presses are accurate without too much distraction.

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That's not the only clever bit of tech Hyundai has in its study. It also has what it calls a Multi-Layer Display in the gauge cluster. While some screens convey depth using visual tricks, Hyundai's gauge cluster comprises two separate screens that are placed 6 millimeters apart from each other. It gives the gauge cluster more visual depth, and according to Hyundai, it reduces distraction by placing the most important information on the foremost screen.

Customization like this has grown in importance over the last few years. As AI voice assistants and app integration grow in prevalence, there's been an increased focus on being able to customize a telematics layout to give the driver exactly what they want and nothing that they don't. These screens could theoretically be linked to a user profile, so each time a different driver enters the vehicle, everything is laid out to their personal specifications.

Of course, being a concept, Hyundai hasn't said if or when this type of cockpit will make it to production. But it's all part of a larger in-depth study of new-car interiors and how automakers can reduce distraction while boosting the technology behind the scenes.

This was originally published on Roadshow.

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