Originally published on CleanTechnica.
Editor’s Note: I absolutely loved the HUD in the BMW i8. If the Model 3 has a HUD even better than that, or even just as good as that, I’m sure customers will be happy.
One of the things that stood out the most about the Tesla Model 3 when it was first unveiled was the rather simple and uncluttered interior.
While some posited that the interior design was simply unfinished, others were quick to consider other possibilities — including the possible inclusion of a large HUD (heads-up display). That possibility would of course also explain why conventional air vents weren’t featured in the interior — the freed-up space allowing for a larger HUD.
A very interesting and in-depth article recently published by Randy Carlson on Seeking Alpha explored this line of thought, as well as others. Here are some choice excerpts from that article:
The largest barrier to putting a great HUD in cars is finding the volume within the dash for the necessary large optical components. Tesla appears to be taking the innovative approach of replacing the conventional instruments with the HUD, thus freeing up the necessary volume to make a great HUD display. At the same time, what is saved by eliminating conventional instruments will largely, if not entirely offset the cost of the HUD.
The same DLP technology used for the HUD can also be used to project images on to a ‘frosted’ screen from the back. In fact, the same optics used to display images can be used to detect operator gestures, allowing an interactive touch screen to be implemented on an inert piece of frosted glass without any wiring. In other words, the touch screen shown in the Model 3 at the unveiling could be implemented using the same imaging technology as the HUD with nothing more than a piece of frosted glass or plastic positioned in front of the dashboard.
…There are compelling advantages that make DLP displays preferable to LCD or OLED alternatives. The active elements of a DLP display are very small compared to an LCD display or conventional “instrument cluster”. The DMD image generator – the array of a couple million movable mirrors – is built on an IC chip, about the size of your thumbnail. DLP image projectors are also more power efficient than LCD displays, allowing brighter images and lower operating temperatures, both of which are important for automotive displays that must be visible in bright sunlight conditions.
Tesla is not bringing some new technology to automobiles by using a DLP head up display. The innovation is in removing the conventional instruments, controls and HVAC ducts from the dash, making room to implement a very compelling HUD that can then display all the information formerly presented by conventional instruments and displays. The display generating components are very small, only the optics (light, inexpensive, molded plastic mirrors) are large. This is an example of innovation that delivers simplicity, ease of manufacture and very possibly lower cost overall. This kind of innovative display solution for Model 3 is definitely the right kind of innovation. It’s not another Falcon Door.
Very interesting points. The issue of strong sunlight making LCD and OLED displays hard to see is a commonly discussed one. The potential solution discussed above would certainly be appreciated by many, especially considering the glass roof design of the Model 3 (the all-glass roof appears to simply be an option, not standard, it should be noted).
As we reported previously, Tesla recently hired Milan Kovac — the principal engineer behind the SKULLY HUD-featuring motorcycle helmet — seemingly adding weight to this speculation.
“And looking at recent hires at Tesla Motors, it’s clear that Tesla is emphasizing experience with HUD, gesture control, and other unique automotive interior tech implementations,” Evannex noted.
Tesla CEO Elon Musk’s own comments appear to corroborate at least some of this speculation. Here is a tweet he made on the matter:
@HBL_Cosmin Wait until you see the real steering controls and system for the 3. It feels like a spaceship.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) April 3, 2016
At any rate, I’m sure that we can expect the production interior of the Model 3 to be fairly different from what we have seen so far.