Tesla’s Model S Features Fully Digital Control Surfaces — 2013 Detroit Auto Show
Tesla Motors unveiled the first car to include a 17-inch touch screen control surface. The Model S uses touch screen technology to give you a functional display mounted in the dashboard. The screen can be used for simple functions like Google Maps, climate control functions, radio, etc. The touch display also can be used for tasks that requires an Internet connection (Tesla offers a year free of 3G connection through an unnamed service provider.)
The 3G connectivity lets you stream Internet radio, check weather conditions and surf the web. However, you cannot stream any videos on the display because of safety reasons. If you choose to cancel your 3G plan after the free trial runs out, you can just tether your phone and use the Internet connection that your phone provides. If you do not have a connection to the Internet, the display is basically a 17-inch display for your radio and climate control.
The ability of the car to "update" itself wirelessly gives the Model S unlimited possibilities for innovation. Not far down the road it wouldn't be surprising to see apps fully integrated into the control systems that allow you customize your control surface to your exact specifications. Wi-Fi could also be implemented in the car as free connections begin to become more common in larger cities.
In addition to the 17-inch control surface in the dash, the control gauges (speedometer, odometer, etc.) are also represented digitally above the steering wheel. The display can be customized to fit your specific needs and wants.
In terms of control surfaces and computer integration, the Model S is proving to be one of the most advanced cars at the Detroit International Auto Show.