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Digital automotive instrument panels at CES 2011 (photos)

The days of the analog needle spinning around to show vehicle and engine speed are numbered, if these new digital instrument clusters shown at CES are any barometer of the future.

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Wayne Cunningham

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1 of 6 Wayne Cunningham/CNET

Nvidia 3D concept

Nvidia increased its presence in the automotive sector by inking deals to power Audi, BMW, and Tesla infotainment systems. But Nvidia also showed its work into digital instrument clusters at CES 2011. Although purely conceptual, Nvidia showed off this 3D instrument display, powered by its Tegra 2 processor.
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Nvidia 3D concept

In this version of Nvidia's demonstration, the cluster imitates the look of wood and real gauges. An automaker could merely place an LCD over the instrument cluster, and implement gauge design after the cars roll off the assembly line. Likewise, automakers could make their instrument clusters configurable.
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Visteon concept

Visteon uses Open GL for its 3D instrument clusters. This one is designed for high-end vehicles with full infotainment capabilities. In 1,600x600-pixel resolution, this display puts trip information on the left, entertainment information on right, and a consolidated speedo/tach in the middle.
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4 of 6 James Martin/CNET

Visteon concept

This one is another 3D concept by Visteon, showing an interface with more gauges.
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5 of 6 James Martin/CNET

Visteon concept

This display does not use 3D graphics, relying instead on films over the screen to give it a 3D look. The most interesting feature here is the menu concept, the rotating set of icons to the left of the gauge, which could show a wide variety of menus.
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QNX concept

QNX, maker of much of the software that sits in dashboards, came up with this 2D display. Although using conventional-looking gauges, it also reserves an area next to the speedo for weather, navigation, and a tachometer.

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