Sure, we may not see flying cars in our lifetime, but a mainstream digital dash is a definite possibility. The all-glass vehicle dashboard has been conceptualized by other manufacturers in the past, but this year it's Panasonic's turn to try its hand at building a multi-display system. The electronics maker brought its Cockpit prototype to the CEATEC floor, causing quite a stir among passersby. The dash itself was little more than a semi-functional mockup, presenting recorded rendered video on the main 20-inch LCD and dual 10.4-inch secondary displays. The main display's current objective appears to be improving safety, using a series of cameras to eliminate blind spots and alert drivers to other road hazards. Real-time driving stats are displayed atop a video feed, either from the rear camera (when in reverse), or one up front.

We spent a few minutes behind the wheel of Panasonic's mockup, which consisted only of a pair of (rather comfortable) leather seats, along with a trio of LCDs, which the company claims are currently based on panels used in other Panasonic products, but may eventually utilize custom displays. This wasn't an actual vehicle prototype -- only the "cockpit" was on hand. The main display will (hopefully) focus the driver's attention away from distractions on those two smaller screens -- the one in the center can be used to control standard vehicle settings like climate and entertainment, while a second display positioned directly in front of the passenger seat can play movies and other content.

Are we there yet? No, so you better get comfortable for the long drive ahead. Overall the setup looked like it could have potential, though Panasonic warned us not to expect anything final until the end of the decade (2018 at the earliest). Jump past the break for a Cockpit drive-by.

Panasonic Cockpit LCD Dash hands-on

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Panasonic Cockpit digital dash prototype hands-on (video)