Apple’s New Dashboard for the Car

It appears that Apple is taking everything it used to succeed in the design of portable music players and tablet devices and are applying it to the dashboard of a car. In early July, Apple was awarded a patent from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. The company claims their new dashboard will be just as revolutionary for cars as there other products were for home and mobile entertainment.

Control Surface

The design consists of touch screens, cameras that will track the movement of the driver’s head and eyes and voice-controlled operations. Apple touts that the benefits of their dashboard will include a lower cost, a more aesthetically pleasing look and improved safety.

Recently, Forbes has come out with an article providing a few reasons as to why the new dashboard, despite Apple’s claims, will not be revolutionary. The first reason is the use of touch screens. How safe can the new dashboard be when drivers will have to take their eyes off the road every time they want to physically interact with it to adjust the music, lights and air.

It is much more practical to use buttons and knobs. Anyone with a current touchscreen dashboard system can testify to that. To combat the preceding issue, Apple claims that the touchscreen will be raised in areas where the driver should touch. This is a good idea, but it would still be better to use actual buttons.

Voice Control

Apple car dashboard
Apple car dashboard

The next piece of criticism regards the voice control aspect. As much progress as voice recognition has made in the last decade, it is still nowhere near to where it needs to be for it be acceptable. For example, Apple’s voice controlled Siri is fine, but it is still not as convenient as Apple would like you to believe.

Another issue with voice control occurs when there are other people besides the driver in the car. They will have to quiet down every time the driver wants to use the voice control. This is why Apple claims in the patent that voice control should only be used as backup. They know the technology has not been perfected yet.

Dashboard Design

Then, there comes the issue of car companies giving up control of the dashboard’s design. Each car company usually designs their own dashboards as part of the company’s brand. It’s not very likely that they’d give up that aspect. The patent claims the dashboard can be customized, but there are no details regarding how customizable. For example, it is obvious that no car company would be able to ask for buttons and knobs.

The final criticism is in regards to Apple in general. Particularly, the Apple brand is not as strong as it used to be. If that is true, it would be risky for any car company to invest in their new dashboard design.

As of right now, it is still unclear as to when or if Apple intends to start making dashboards. This could just be a patent that Apple happened to win, and maybe they have no plans for it right now. We should find out in a few short years though.

Tom Kendra writes about automobile insurance as well as tech topics that relate to the everyday consumer.