Screen Wars — Coming Soon To A Car Dealer Near You!

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Like so many things in the EV revolution, Tesla started it all when it plunked an enormous touchscreen smack in the middle of the first Model S. That screen made it clear the tech world had taken over the automotive industry and ushered in the “car as computer” era. As with all things, size matters and now nearly a decade later, the rest of the auto industry is jumping into the touchscreen era. Judging by recent announcements from Mercedes and Cadillac, the days of “mine’s bigger than yours” — a least when it comes to dashboards — is officially here.

Mercedes EQS Hyperscreen

Mercedes EQS Hyperscreen
Courtesy of Mercedes-Benz

Mercedes kicked things off by unveiling the Hyperscreen that will adorn its soon to be introduced EQS battery electric sedan, the car that will be the top of the line electric car for Mercedes the way the S Class is the top of the line for the company’s conventional cars. The only way the Hyperscreen could be any bigger is if Mercedes made the car wider. The new screen spans the entire dashboard from A pillar to A pillar, presenting the driver and front seat passenger with an array of information and entertainment options unmatched in the known world.

Mercedes EQS Hyperscreen
Courtesy of Mercedes-Benz

Mercedes is pretty darn pleased with this new technology, judging by its recent press release:

“Visually impressive, radically easy to operate and extremely eager to learn: the MBUX Hyperscreen is one of the major highlights for the EQS. The Hyperscreen represents the emotional intelligence of the all-electric flagship model: The large, curved screen panel extends almost the entire width of the interior, from the left to the right A-pillar. In addition to its sheer size, the high-quality, detailed design aesthetic guarantees a “wow” effect. This high-tech aesthetic represents the emotionally appealing dimension of the MBUX Hyperscreen.

“Furthermore, artificial intelligence (AI) and learn-capable software, enables the control and display concept to adapt to its user and make personalized suggestions for a variety of functions from infotainment, to comfort and even vehicle functions. With the new zero-layer feature, the user no longer has to scroll through sub-menus or give voice commands, as the most important applications are always available in a situational and contextual way at the top of the driver’s field of vision. This alleviates the driver from needing to make numerous operating steps. The MBUX Hyperscreen not only benefits the driver as it is also an attentive assistant for the front passenger, who has their own display and operating area.”

According to Autoblog, the Hyperscreen is comprised of three individual displays under one curved panel measuring 56 inches wide and powered by an eight-core CPU with 24 gigabytes of RAM. The screens themselves are OLED units like those found in the Cadillac Escalade and feature haptic feedback actuators. The display in front of the passenger can either be a design accent or offer an array of entertainment choices.

Courtesy of Mercedes-Benz

The AI built into the Hyperscreen will learn the most frequently used functions and applications as well as when and how you use them. If you usually call someone at a particular time of day, the system will ask you if that’s what you want to do when that moment arrives the next day. If you activate certain climate and seat heating settings on cold days, it will remember them and recommend them to you the next time the thermometer dips in your area.

The Hyperscreen will apparently be an option. Those who can make do without all that electronic hand holding will be able to choose a more traditional dashboard, but given how much an EQS is likely to cost, who wouldn’t want the latest and greatest virtual dashboard the world has ever known? If you don’t want the Hyperscreen, maybr you should consider buying an EQE or EQC instead.

Cadillac Lyriq Infotainment Screen

At “only” 33 inches in width, the infotainment screen for the upcoming Cadillac Lyriq battery electric SUV, which will be built at then former Saturn factory in Spring Hill, Tennessee, is much smaller than the Mercedes Hyperscreen. But GM thinks it will offer superior functionality as a user interface thanks to the input by two video and tech companies that helped design it. According to Autoblog, Territory Studios is a British creative agency known for its expertise in user interface design and video games and Rightpoint is a digital consultancy company that does, well, a whole lot of really techy stuff.

Cadillac Lyriq touchscreen
Courtesy of Cadillac

In a press release, Bill Thompson, senior manager of user interface design at GM says, “In designing the user interface for Cadillac, we started with a vision but recognized that we were going to need a fresh perspective and new ways of thinking to turn it into a reality. That’s where Rightpoint and Territory Studio came into the picture. Both teams are incredibly talented and brought a new perspective that enabled us to design a personalized and elegant user-focused experience.”

Marti Romances, co-founder and creative director of Territory Studio adds, “We are excited to be working with the visionary team at GM as technology and innovation bring disruptive changes to the automobile industry. As creative specialists, we thrive on future vision challenges, crafting experiences that help people access, understand and benefit from digital technology through intuitive design. Our deep expertise in 2D and 3D real-time graphics allows seamless access to all on-board technologies in safe and precise ways, transforming the in-car experience as connectivity becomes a central part of the experience.”

Gabriel Bridger, executive creative director at Rightpoint claims, “It started with a simple question: Why can’t things work better? With that as our mantra, we created an experience that at once feels intuitive, as well as entirely fresh. The finished product could only exist with tight collaboration with the Cadillac team and a willingness to challenge the expected.”

GM says the new screen will offer a “customizable user interface designed to deliver a flexible, high-end user experience with display themes to fit the driver’s mood and personality. The large screen wraps toward the driver and information is intuitively displayed where it’s needed most.” The GM press release also has a link that will go live on January 12 where people can learn more about Cadillac’s next generation in-car displays.

There are no images in the Cadillac press release and the short video it contains is dark and drab. Presumably the link that gets activated on January 12 will tell us much more. In the meantime, here’s a video from REC Everything that may be more useful.

The Takeaway

Will these super awesome touchscreens from Mercedes and Cadillac keep any carbon emissions out of the atmosphere, improve range, or make the cars they are fitted to charge faster? No, of course not. But if they offer enough geewizardry to entice people to buy an electric car instead of a conventional car equipped with an infernal combustion engine, that’s a very good thing. Let the Screen Wars begin!

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Steve Hanley

Steve writes about the interface between technology and sustainability from his home in Florida or anywhere else The Force may lead him. He is proud to be "woke" and doesn't really give a damn why the glass broke. He believes passionately in what Socrates said 3000 years ago: "The secret to change is to focus all of your energy not on fighting the old but on building the new."

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