Forget analog gauges; the instrument cluster of the future will be a 3D dynamic display configurable by the user. Computer graphics company Nvidia is has developed a chip designed specifically for the automotive market. This chip holds system software and graphics processing capabilities to show 3D instruments on an LCD. Partner Iconmobile, which did earlier work on Audi's A1 concept car, designed an interface for the chip that combines car information with navigation and entertainment. The Iconmobile interface serves as a demonstration and is not slated for a production car.
With the Fusion Hybrid, Ford is showing off the flexibility of a digital instrument cluster. NVidia's chip would bring 3D to the equation, potentially allowing for more useful navigation guidance or information structures.
Digital instrument clusters could save automakers money by letting them use a common hardware platform across models, and programming a different look and feel into the instruments to distinguish cars. Likewise, drivers could reconfigure the instrument cluster by personal preference or for different driving conditions. For example, a larger tachometer could used for sport driving, then minimized for the daily commute.