Tesla has always been looking to change the status quo of how humans interact with cars. In favor of dials, it chose touchscreens; with any luck, it will soon be replacing steering wheels and pedals with a computer that does most of the driving for you.
But a series of new hires also hints at an upcoming replacement for the dashboard, removing the physical dials or even a screen, and replacing it with some kind of augmented reality.
A change in a LinkedIn profile, spotted by Slashgear, shows that one of the key designers from the Microsoft HoloLens has jumped ship to Tesla. Andrew Kim, the former Senior Designer for HoloLens & New Devices at Microsoft, changed his LinkedIn profile to reflect his new job as ‘Lead Designer’ at Tesla’s Design Studio.
This marks the second employee that Tesla has poached from Microsoft’s HoloLens team in recent memory. That, paired with Elon Musk’s fondness for changing the traditional car cabin, has rumor running rampant that Tesla is working on some kind of AR product for drivers. The most obvious product would be an AR windshield or heads-up display, which could replace the dashboard, make the steering wheel more minimalist (in preparation for it vanishing altogether), and improve safety by keeping eyes on the road.
It’s also possible that Tesla could be working on an AR headset much like the HoloLens. That kind of setup has been trialled by other companies in the past, and it shows real promise for giving drivers x-ray vision to see through their own car and eliminate blind spots.
Of course, it’s equally possible that the HoloLens hires are working on something unrelated to AR. Tesla has plenty of need for designers and engineers versed in computer vision, as it moves forwards with its driverless car program.
One thing is certain, though: given the speed Musk likes to make new things, we won’t have to wait long to find out.