Imagine alerts that appear to leap out of your screen at you.
You're out for a late-season ride, trying to get as much in as you can before winter hits. As you go up in altitude you can feel it getting colder. Before long, a blue snowflake appears to start hovering between you and your gauge cluster. This isn't some snowflake trapped between you and the windshield, but a 3-D image generated by your gauge cluster. The fact that it's just floating there catches your eye, and you reduce speed to avoid being caught out by ice on the road. A while later, an amber "low tire pressure" symbol appears not only hovering but bouncing up and down in the air in front of you. The cold temperatures have reduced your tire pressure, so you find a safe place to pull off the road and add a little more air.
This sounds like as much science fiction as Knight Rider's KITT turbo boosting over slow-moving traffic. (Wouldn't that be nice?) If Bosch has its way, though, 3-D gauges could very well become science fact. After all, Bosch was the first company to make digital gauges for the 1994 Audi Quattro, just 12 years after KITT's digital dashboard first appeared on television screens.
"Displays are increasingly becoming interactive systems that can better anticipate drivers’ individual needs," says Dr. Steffen Berns, president of Bosch Car Multimedia. "There is huge business potential for Bosch here."
In addition to floating warning symbols, 3-D displays can provide more depth perception than a flat screen, such as a backup camera. This function isn't as important on a motorcycle, where you can see in every direction around you. It could help with navigation systems, though, giving you an idea of just how close you're getting to your next turn better than a simple distance countdown as we have now.
While LCD screens are starting to replace physical gauges in cars, motorcycles are leaning more toward TFT technology, which is more visible and weatherproof when exposed to the elements. I was impressed with the systems I've recently used on various Indians as well as the Triumph Tiger 800. While some older designs and new retro bikes still use physical gauges that date back to a time when people still thought digital watches were a pretty neat idea, most bikes are slowly moving in the direction of digital instrumentation. Bosch's 3-D technology will likely appear in cars first, but like heads-up displays, they may well migrate to two wheels as well.