Information Displays and Message Centers

Below are examples of Information Displays and Message Centers. These are the latest trend on electronic instrument panels. They will be for the most part shades of black and white, although some manufacturers are choosing a blue background. Full color displays are slowly coming into use as the cost of led displays fall.

These displays are also wider and a bit taller than traditional symbols and indicators. In older models, these will not be red or orange or yellow/amber, which are reserved for malfunction or trouble indicators and symbols.


Lane Keeping Assistance Maintenance Reminder Example Miles per Gallon Image Hybrid Operation Image

The bottom line is this: if something appears unexpectedly, there will be a red, orange or yellow symbol visible on the instrument panel in addition to the display.

If there isn’t, there is nothing wrong and a display key on the steering wheel or one of the control stalks has likely been touched accidentally. Consult your manual for options to restore the display to its original view.

However, the evolution of these displays includes the introduction of full color, GPS mapping and individual symbols. In addition, drivers are being given a choice of display style and layout in the more flexible message centers.

The displays allow for larger, more complicated Driver Assist symbols, as well as what are essentially computer controls.

Settings IndicatorFor instance, this is the Settings Indicator symbol. It is nearly identical to the bumpy circle used when referring to the transmission, but lacks any addition in the center and is shown in gray scale – for now. The settings indicator is the what we have become used to seeing on our phones and computers and in fact leads to the customization of the display.

Adaptive Cruise ControlOblect Detected IndicatorMaddeningly, there appear to be no constraints assigned here, and we have seen the potential for dozens of variations. The image at left is a variation of an Adaptive or Active Cruise Control Indicator switched on and functioning. At right, the system has detected a vehicle ahead and the symbol is larger than typical with the added image of a car in the distance. Note as well that these symbols will go from Green to Amber to Red depending on speed and distance.

Adaptive plus Curve IndicatorThe symbol shown may grow wider as well, as seen here. In this situation, another version of the Adaptive Cruise Control symbol has been combined with a lane symbol indicating a curve in the road the vehicle will adjust to. Again the color may vary depending on conditions.

All of which leaves drivers with a bewildering array of notices, symbols, messages and color changes that at best are distracting while behind the wheel and at worst simply impossible to fully understand. To us here at, auto manufacturers are given far too much leeway in deciding how to present information to drivers — while they are driving!



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