JLR recently showed off their 360 Virtual Urban Windscreen pillar-projection system; a high-tech solution to the age-old problem of not being able to see through the A and B pillars. It uses cameras mounted on the pillars to feed images through 2 projectors located around the rear-view mirror, which are projected on to each pillar surface. I’ll probably get some flack for this, but…from a design perspective this is a classic case of using technology to plaster over the real issue. It’s a sticking plaster over the existing architecture of a car. The real innovation is to use advanced materials and clever design and engineering to build an A-pillar that the driver and passenger can see through. Like Kia’s Stinger concept.. Or Volvo’s SCC concept.. These weren’t simple solutions; each would require costly safety development and homologation, and perhaps there’s a user perception that being able to see through a pillar makes it somehow weaker than a ‘real’ metal pillar. But they were innovative; they moved the game on, they offered new design implications. It’s indicative of a trend that sees relatively low-cost technology over-riding real design solutions. Case in point; Tesla’s tablet-like interface on the Model S. Interior design has been nudged aside by the ‘innovation’ of having a large flat touch-screen. The thinking seems to be that the functions of the screen are so important that it should take priority over a well thought-out and intuitive interior HMI. I don’t belive that this will be how car interiors will develop; Design strategy will ensure that unique solutions will be required to keep each brands DNA intact. It’s the digital vs analogue argument; the digital solutions will be offered to us with huge advantages of personalisation, and cost-effectiveness. But maybe we need to pause and remember that physical, analogue design is tangible..and permanent.