The Korean brand's new patent appears needlessly complex.
It seems like a long time ago that Hyundai was a maker of reliable but boring, plasticky cars. This is now a company with exciting new vehicles like the Ioniq 5 EV and the new Santa Cruz pickup. It's also a business that isn't afraid to push the boundaries of technology, be it in its continued pursuit of hydrogen-powered vehicles or its development of advanced air conditioning systems.
A new patent for an advanced steering wheel module seemingly inspired by Formula One cars has now been filed by the Korean automaker in Germany and it once again demonstrates the company's willingness to try something new.
To put it simply, Hyundai's steering wheel design sees a display screen placed within the steering wheel ahead of the driver. This design addresses the issue that some drivers face whereby the steering wheel obstructs their view of the instrument cluster. With the most pertinent information displayed on the steering wheel itself, nothing obscures the driver's view.
In great detail, the patent goes on to explain how the driver's airbag, which is also contained within the steering wheel, can deploy without damaging the display itself. The display device and airbag device are spaced apart with separate mounts. Hyundai previously experimented with touchscreen controls for steering wheels, but this latest patent is more about keeping an eye on vital vehicle information than changing the radio station.
It seems like a particularly complex solution when you can merely move your head by an inch or two to see the fuel gauge, and we also wonder whether this steering display wouldn't require you to take your eyes off the road for too long. Our rendering provides some idea of what the display could look like and it certainly doesn't seem to solve the problem of distracted driving, an unintended effect of using autonomous driving technologies, and being surrounded by increasingly large touchscreens.
Hyundai's luxury arm, Genesis, previously revealed the Mint Concept which also had a large display on the steering wheel. Could we see a production Hyundai or Genesis with this feature soon? The patent filing doesn't necessarily mean this will be the case, but an N-badged Hyundai wouldn't be a bad place to start implementing it.