High-resolution screens have changed how we interface with our vehicles. Take for instance the Perodua Ativa H and AV grades, many of the customisable features are selectable via the steering wheel switch and a menu within the instrument cluster featuring a 7-inch TFT screen.
While display screens in the infotainment system have been around for more than two decades, one of the first interiors to feature a fully digital dual-screen setup is the Mercedes-Benz E-Class W213 and its “Widescreen Cockpit” layout.
Recently, all-new Hyundai models have also moved towards a dual-screen setup, such as the latest Elantra, allowing the instrument cluster to project more information such as blind-spot monitoring. Their next innovation is supposedly placing a high-resolution display within the centre of the steering wheel!
According to an article by Drive.com.au, Hyundai has been seen filing a patent in Germany for a steering wheel-mounted display. The drawings laid out the basic setup, where a rectangular display fills the centre of a circular steering wheel, leaving two spokes on the left and right for grip.
The patent also describes how the effectiveness of the airbag is unimpeded by the display, able to fully inflate and protect the driver without damaging the proposed display.
While it is said that the design addresses visibility issues and obstruction due to the rim of the steering wheel covering the instrument cluster, isn’t the head-up display (HUD) that projects on the windscreen deliver an even better result plus doesn’t strain the eyes with multi-distance focusing?
Hyundai’s luxury vehicle brand, Genesis, did toy with the idea of a simplistic interior and dashboard, with all the information stuffed into a small display on a similarly small steering wheel in the 2019 Mint Concept car.
Bentley and Fanatec recently launched a dual-purpose motorsport steering wheel featuring a 3.4-inch coloured screen. It is designed to be used in their racing cars as well as on Fanatec sim racing steering bases. As you can see in the promotional video, not much information is displayed on the screen while one is driving as it is not conveniently located.
Do you think the idea is practical or just another gimmick to stand out from the crowd? Give it a thought, when was the last time you glanced at your steering wheel while you are driving? The centre of the steering wheel is far from an ideal placement for displaying information in a regular passenger car.