Digital dials are great and all, but why not turn things up a notch? That's exactly what Acura is doing with its Precision Cockpit, unveiled at the LA Auto Show today. More than just an in-car infotainment system, the concept includes cabin elements borrowed from the NSX (such as the seats and the steering wheel), which show us just how future Acura motors will look and feel inside, along with how we'll interact with them. Acura's calling it a "choreographed in-car experience" (of course) and it appears that experience includes some clever technology.
The centerpiece of the cockpit, for gadget fans, are the two 12.3-inch display panels. One squarely in your line of view where your dials would go, and the other located right above the central stack. The line-of-sight display is where you'll find your virtual dials of course, but there's so much more going on.
One of the most impressive features is the built-in 3D engine, that serves up images of adjacent cars, pedestrians and cyclists, even those obscured from view claims Acura, in real time. But why not just look out the window? Well the Precision Cockpit leverages a slew of onboard sensors and artificial intelligence to point out the projected path or paths of other road users, so you can get a heads up on if that cyclist coming from your right is about to cross your path. There's not a lot of information on how accurate it is, or how it's figuring it out, but if there's a chance of it improving the safety of everyone, we're all for it.
The central display is where you'll find your more regular collection of infotainment options, similar to the panels you might find in other high end cars, such as the Mercedes S-Class (S65 etc.). That doesn't mean there's nothing new going on here, but Acura was most keen to talk about how you interact with it. This is where the "precision" in Precision Cockpit comes in.
In the central stack, right where you might expect to find a physical remote or a jog dial like you get in most premium vehicles, you'll find a curved touchpad -- a bit like on a laptop. The curved design gives your digits some form of "center" without looking, and the actual touchpad is mapped pixel to pixel with the central display. And, as everything has to have a fancy name, Acura is calling this "absolute positioning." But in short, it just means top right on the touchpad is top right on the screen. Which is mostly what you'd hope for anyway?
It's interesting to see a company plan ahead, not just for how it's in-car interface, but also how it will interact with the other emerging technologies. Acura's AcuraWatch suite of safety systems is already in many cars (70,000 according to the company), so it's not hard to imagine how the Precision Cockpit's use of artificial intelligence will bring a whole new layer to what's possible. There are also hints at integrating autonomous, and semi-autonomous features with the user controls. But for now, we're mostly left to do just that, as the Precision Cockpit isn't likely to land in a car any time soon, with the company hedging it's bets on a delivery date as "Starting in the next few years."