Posted on May 19, 2016 by Matt Pressman
Based on the current design of the Tesla Model 3 interior, it appears possible that Tesla Motors [NASDAQ: TSLA] is likely to implement a heads-up display (HUD) during Part 2 of the Model 3 reveal. After Model 3's initial launch event, CEO Elon Musk tweeted, "Thanks for tuning in to the Model 3 unveil Part 1! Part 2 is super next level, but that's for later…" And he followed up with another mysterious tweet: "Wait until you see the real steering controls and system for the 3. It feels like a spaceship." Some observers have put forth compelling theories revolving around a possible HUD in the Model 3. In addition, a Model 3 HUD implementation appears likely due to the prior work experience of some new hires at Tesla Motors.
Above: Digital Light Processing [DLP] - the same technology that projects digital movies in theaters - can also be used for automotive head up displays, and to implement interactive touch screens on inert surfaces. Tesla's unusual dashboard arrangement in Model 3 appears optimized to utilize DLP image projection technology (Source: Tesla Motors via Seeking Alpha*)
We concur with prescient analysis from Randy Carlson at Seeking Alpha* as he predicts: "By removing the conventional instruments, and even the air conditioning duct work from the dashboard, Tesla has created the room needed to install an exceptional heads-up display or HUD in Model 3. With a HUD, the driver essentially looks into the optical system and sees a virtual image focused in space several tens of feet ahead of the car. But the field of view of most HUD displays is limited. To achieve a wide field of view - a large, compelling image for the driver - a large aperture optical system is required. By removing everything else from the dash, Tesla has made room for very large HUD optics, enabling a compelling display."
Above: Driver's side view of Tesla Model 3's interior at the launch event had no instrumentation behind the steering wheel which could hint at a possible HUD [Source: BGR]
But wouldn't this be price prohibitive? It wouldn't be as, "it should be appreciated that the cost of the HUD is mostly in the display generating components - the DMD (Digital Micromirror Device), illumination source, drive electronics. The exit optics - that is the 'big' components - are just inexpensive, molded plastic mirrors. 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."
Above: Advantages of a heads-up display (Source: CNET)
And another thing to, "consider is Tesla's unique position vis a vis legacy competitors with regard to this display innovation. Making a really big HUD work requires getting all the 'stuff' out from behind the dashboard. It also means accepting the risk that some customers accustomed to old-style instruments won't like this solution. Legacy carmakers with entrenched suppliers, design teams and organizational 'silos' will have a harder time making room behind the dashboard for this type of innovation. And, carmakers with established market shares, customer bases and dealer networks will face considerable adoption risk issues should they pursue this approach."
Above: Passenger side view of Tesla Model 3's interior at the launch event; take note of the sparse use of any instrumentation except for the center touchscreen display (Source: Tesla Motors)
In contrast to the legacy carmakers, "Tesla has a particularly responsive engineering environment (Elon Musk gets what he wants...) and because Model 3 aims at a new market for Tesla, one populated with early adopters, alienation of the existing customer base and defense of market share issues are much less for Tesla than for their competitors. Here is an important innovation that simplifies design, reduces parts, eases manufacturing, probably reduces cost for Model 3, and takes the Tesla [Model 3] to a competitive advantage legacy carmakers will find difficult to emulate."
Above: Stepping inside the Tesla Model 3 (Source: macintoshx11/Reddit)
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. First, according to Electrek, Tesla hired, "Félix Godard [who] is a young car designer who has been working for Porsche for the last three years... [he] was credited as ‘lead designer’ on both the Mission E concept and its upcoming production version... [and] at Porsche, Godard is listed as an inventor on several patents for new instrument clusters and heads-up/holographic displays." Check out the interior tech in Porsche's Mission E concept car that Godard was responsible for...
Above: Porsche Misson E concept car interior; its designer is now working at Tesla on the Model 3 (Source: Gommeblog.it)
Next, it's also reported that Tesla recently hired, "Milan Kovac [who] was Principal Engineer at SKULLY, the maker of the first augmented reality motorcycle helmet equipped with a built-in HUD... [and] worked on the implementation of several augmented reality, 3D gesture-control and HUD technologies for different applications – some of which [were] for the automotive industry." Check out examples of Kovac's work on the SKULLY...
Above: HUD display embedded into motorcycle helmet; its designer is also now working on the Tesla Model 3 (Source: SKULLY)
In conclusion, if we look at Elon Musk's tweets which foreshadow some new features at a follow-up Model 3 reveal coupled with these new hires with such strong experience in HUD technology, it's reasonable to extrapolate great potential for something additional being revealed inside the Model 3. Furthermore, based on the unique interior design approach Tesla revealed at the Model 3 launch event, a HUD appears quite likely. We'll be sure to keep you posted on any other clues that surface about the Model 3.
*Source: Seeking Alpha