Digital Display Design

Search “display design” images on the web and the results are almost exclusively non-digital. But a quick look at the news and designs like the latest EV dashboard will likely show up. The point is that as displays become ever more ubiquitous and the technology is enabling greater creativity the design aspects of digital displays is a topic that merits more attention.

Displays are now foldable, transparent, circular, bright, reflective, wide color gamut, high resolution, very small to very large – and while not all of those things at the same time there is enough for creative expression, not just in the content but also in the implementation.

Displays in EVs

Back to EV dashboards as this is a rapidly developing market for the use of digital displays. As shown below, Tesla started by integrating the display in the dashboard with the models S and X. They then put a tablet style display in the middle of the dashboard with the models 3 and Y, an interesting minimalist design. Now the latest versions of the models S and X have both an integrated display in front of the driver and an electrically adjustable center display, it can tilt from driver to passenger, this can be seen here https://www.tesla.com/models. Also of note is that there are very few physical buttons, the displays are also the interface to nearly all the vehicle functions.

The new Mercedes EQ series takes the full design integration approach as visitors to SID’s Display Week will have seen as there was a model on show there. The dashboard is shown on their website here https://www.mbusa.com/en/vehicles/class/eqs/sedan. However, Mercedes has taken a different design direction with the EQB models with the panel on the dashboard approach, see https://www.mbusa.com/en/future-vehicles/2022-eqb-suv. In both models, there are still many physical controls.

BMW takes a blatant panel on the dashboard approach with a reduction in physical buttons as shown here https://www.bmwusa.com/vehicles/all-electric/ix/sports-activity-vehicle/overview.html#!#design.

I could go on but clearly, screen real estate is growing in the new generations of vehicles, and it is being used both as a visual as well as the physical interface. The idea of sweeping designs where the screen spans the dashboard or discrete displays is clearly being explored and is a good example of competing design ideas.

TVs in the Home

TVs have had little design flexibility for many years, the design expression with LCD based TVs was limited to narrow bezels and maybe a speaker bar. However, in recent years we have seen Samsung’s Frame https://www.samsung.com/us/tvs/the-frame/highlights/, which as they put it “TV when it’s on. Art when it’s off”.

More recently LG has been demonstrating the possibilities with roll-up displays, the idea is not so much to design the TV enclosure as to easily hide the screen when not in use. See https://www.lg.com/global/lg-signature/rollable-oled-tv-r.

Bang & Olufsen take the design approach of making the TV attractive as a TV, see https://www.bang-olufsen.com/en/us/televisions.

And an honorable mention should go the Philco Predicta.

Philco Predicta, 1958 (in The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis)

Next…

Indeed, what is next. I am confident that as displays continue to increase in variety we will see more creative designs. One of the challenges is communicating how the technical capabilities can be used so designers can explore the range of possibilities.