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Audi previews future interior concepts at CES 2016

Two years ago, Audi rocked CES with the “virtual cockpit” display that eventually went into production, starting with the recently redesigned TT. “Virtual cockpit” replaces conventional gauges and infotainment screens with a single digital display that does both. Now, is considering taking things a step further.

“We are developing our successful Audi virtual cockpit into the Audi virtual dashboard,” Ricky Hudi, the carmaker’s electronics-development chief, said in a statement, adding that in the future, “the entire system will get to know the customer and their habits and preferences, then proactively support them.”

Audi displayed an interior model at CES to demonstrate how all of those capabilities could be incorporated into future car dashboards. It consists of large AMOLED (active-matrix organic LED) displays with haptic feedback. Audi says they recognize touch gestures like the ones typically used to control mobile devices, and that smartphones and smartwatches themselves can be “seamlessly connected.” The whole system is backed by am upgraded version of the modular infotainment platform used in current Audi vehicles.

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Expanding the “virtual-cockpit” concept beyond the gauge cluster could be a smart move for Audi, and not just because the conventional wisdom in the industry these days seems to be “more screens equals better.” The “virtual cockpit” helps streamline the flow of information to the driver and declutter interiors, but it’s also focused solely on the person behind the wheel. That may be acceptable in a sports car like the TT, but may not be ideal in other types of vehicles.

It’s also likely that some form of “virtual dashboard” will enter production soon. The e-tron quattro electric SUV concept that debuted at the 2015 Frankfurt Motor Show has an interior (pictured above) with a similar design, incorporating screens into both the gauge cluster and the center stack.

Also displayed at CES, the e-tron quattro previews an electric SUV Audi will put on sale in 2018. It features an all-wheel drive system incorporating three electric motors, and Audi hopes it will achieve around 300 miles of range per charge.