Here’s taking a look back at how screen technology has evolved over the past decade and what to expect in the futureby Khris Bharath, on LISTEN 04:16
Earlier this week, BMW and Audi unveiled a couple of cars. While BMW unveiled a full-fledged production car; the all-new 2023 7 Series, Audi debuted the last in the trio of its ’Sphere concepts’ the Urbansphere. concept. Both Bavarian brands have some pretty cutting-edge tech on their top drawer models. But, what I want to draw your attention to is the rear screen situation.
One thing that both cars have in common is the rear-seat entertainment situation and they give us some idea of what to expect in the near future. These cars give you a sense of what backseat passengers will experience in luxury cars moving forward.
Tesla was one of the first ones to plonk a giant screen in its cabin nearly a decade ago
I want to briefly touch upon the evolution of screens in cars over the past decade. Ever since smartphones came along and touchscreens went mainstream back in the late 2000s, I always kind of wished that the same level of feedback and touch response made it to the infotainment screen on cars as well.
Tesla was one of the first automakers to plonk a giant screen in its very first mainstream automobile, the Model S all the way back in 2012. A couple of years later, I was excited when I first saw Audi’s virtual cockpit. The graphics were truly amazing for the time and the industry as a whole has since played catch up finally, and now we are at a stage where all other manufacturers have pretty decent screens today.
Well, that is the front screen situation, let’s turn our attention to rear-seat passengers. Now big screens in the rear isn’t necessarily a new thing. However, they were custom jobs and not out-of-the-box offerings from a mainstream automaker.
Hire any stretch limo today, and you’ll probably find TV screens in the back.
Up until now, rear-seat passengers either had small tiny screens that would deploy from the roof or you had screens that would sit either on the back of the front seatbacks or headrest, or in some cases, an automaker would just throw in an iPad, or even worse, a mount for some sort of screen. Some long wheelbase limos had a screen that would pop up as a partition between the driver and the passenger cell.
Eventhough, we’re beginning to see the next big thing in terms of tech and entertainment for rear screen entertainment. Take the new 7 Series for instance that can be had with an optional ($4,750) giant 31-inch 8k display that can stream super high-res content on the fly, thanks to a built-in amazon fire TV and 5G connectivity.
To top it all off, this widescreen is a touchscreen. While that may seem cool, BMW realizes that it won’t be the most elegant solution to operate such a massive touchscreen, and thankfully, it has thrown in a bunch of additional touch screens in the doors. The 32-speaker Bowers and Wilkins sound system along with the blinds should make for an immersive cinema experience on wheels. The screen neatly stows away onto the roof when not in use.
As for the Audi, the Urbansphere may still be a concept, but the level of tech that it has is truly the next level. It packs a transparent OLED screen that pivots out from the glass roof. It can double up as a split-screen, There are sensors that can determine your mood and provide you with a more personalized experience.
This truly is a lounge on wheels. Now, I’m no tech guru, but I am aware that there is there are foldable or rollable screens already in existence. All those flip phones that we see today have incredibly thin screens. So the next question I’m asking myself is we’ll see rollable screens deploy from the roof? Time will tell.
This 48-inch screen in the Byton concept should give you some sense of where the industry is headed
Screens are everywhere in modern cars today, be it for the driver’s instrument panel, or the infotainment system. They also double up as mirrors and 360 surround view systems paired with cameras and help us see much more than we ever can. Our reliance on them will only increase with future gen cars. Watch this space.