In every car you will find some type of instrument located on the dash. This is commonly known as the instrument cluster. Some instrument clusters have a speedometer that is displayed digitally instead of a traditional mechanical gauge.
Instrument clusters are the control system behind the dash of a vehicle. All power and signals from the rest of the dash go through the instrument cluster first. The instrument cluster has the primary function of being the central control for all output devices and data sources. With the advancement of technology and the number of data sources, the control system in a cluster of instruments has a specific purpose.
Digital instrument clusters really started to emerge in the 1980s and 1990s. They were found in many automobiles, including some of the best models, such as the Lincoln and Cadillac. It’s offered a lot in digital instrument clusters, including a speedometer, trip displays, temperature, directions, and fuel rates. Nowadays, some vehicles offer a traditional mechanical speedometer and a digital one.
Dashboards in the past were much simpler and only contained a speedometer. As time went on, more and more elements were added to the part of the dash that we now call the instrument cluster. Some of the things we’ve added to that group include heating controls, vents, lighting controls, and audio accessories.
Today it is more common to also find a navigation system that uses GPS and is integrated into the dash. There is a constant give and take between panel designers and tech people creating things to put on those panels. The two should be combined to create easy to understand and use displays. This could easily cost a lot of extra money, but for consumers to buy, they must remain profitable.
Instrument cluster layouts are important because a vehicle driver needs to be able to read the cluster quickly in order to concentrate on the road. They have continued to improve over time and are improving on the packaging of all the technology without it becoming too complex for the driver to understand at a glance.
Another hurdle car companies must now overcome is the ergonomics of the instrument cluster design. More people are demanding that this be accounted for in dashboard design and consumers are getting it.
There are some meters that have been left behind in the age of digital displays. As they creak to include everything in the instrument clusters in a way that makes the best use of space and meets all the criteria of the most discriminating consumers, the designers have decided that gauges like oil pressure are rarely used. look and could be abandoned, thereby freeing up valuable cluster screen real estate.