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GUI Input Devices Transportation

A New Car UI 237

Posted by Soulskill
from the eyes-on-the-road dept.
An anonymous reader writes "As our cars have become more complex, so have the user interfaces with which we control them. Using the current crop of infotainment systems embedded in a car's dash is byzantine and frustrating. UI designer Matthaeus Krenn has put up a post demonstrating his efforts to reinvent in-car UIs in a way that doesn't force people to squint at tiny buttons, instead leaving more of their attention for the road. It's based on using a touch-screen display that realigns the interface to wherever you put your fingers down. It also reacts differently depending on how many fingers you use to touch the screen."

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A New Car UI

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  • UI Designers Suck (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anrego (830717) * on Tuesday February 18, 2014 @07:44PM (#46281041)

    Seriously, any time a "UI designer" sits down to re-invent something, the result is inevitably terrible. They focus on whatever new-age idea they have is, and often completely miss the core problem while coming up with some genius solution to a minor one.

    My uneducated and rather simple view of how to do it:
    - Physical buttons for the stuff you might/can safely touch while driving (basic stereo controls, temperature controls, wiper settings, etc)
    - Knobs with fixed ranges for things like temperature (so you can set them without looking). Stuff like volume can be infinite as adjustments are immediately noticeable while adjusting.
    - Displays that you can quickly glance at, preferably without having to look down too much (I’m a huge fan of the multi-level dash Honda put in their civic).
    - Stuff you will be adjusting while stopped or maybe at a red light can be whatever you want.. fancy touchscreen, display in a weird spot, who cares.

    Much as I don’t normally lean in the nancy-state direction, I actually wish these complex touchscreen interfaces were disabled while driving. It just seems like a ridiculous safety concern (and yes I know the passenger could adjust it while you safely drive). Honestly I don’t care if someone is playing with one and smashes themselves into a highway divider, but I don’t want someone smashing into _me_ because they are trying to figure out why their cloud streaming music feed dealie isn’t working.

  • Not a car UI (Score:5, Insightful)

    by sunderland56 (621843) on Tuesday February 18, 2014 @07:46PM (#46281045)

    This is not a car UI. It is a UI for the car's entertainment system.

    The car's UI is still a steering wheel and throttle/brake pedals.

  • Dumb (Score:4, Insightful)

    by AmiMoJo (196126) * <> on Tuesday February 18, 2014 @07:47PM (#46281069) Homepage

    The reason current car controls work so well is that you don't have to look at them. You build up muscle memory and can simply reach out and adjust the volume or switch to a different radio station. A touch screen you have to look at is a massive downgrade and far more dangerous.

  • Re:Not a car UI (Score:5, Insightful)

    by PPH (736903) on Tuesday February 18, 2014 @07:52PM (#46281105)

    Don't forget the clutch pedal.

  • Re:Not a car UI (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ackthpt (218170) on Tuesday February 18, 2014 @07:56PM (#46281139) Homepage Journal

    Gas Gauge
    Battery Gauge
    Engine RPM (Tachometer)
    Bulbs Out
    Low Oil
    Fuel Economy

  • Touch Screen (Score:5, Insightful)

    by GrahamCox (741991) on Tuesday February 18, 2014 @08:20PM (#46281377) Homepage
    Touch screens. There's your problem. They are a very poor choice for an interface in an environment where you can't devote 100% of your eyesight to it.

    Auto makers seem to make a virtue out of having touch screens for everything a the moment just for the sake of using a touch screen, whereas what they should be doing is using the most appropriate interface to promote safety and clarity. To my mind that's distinct, physical buttons without too much function overloading. In other words, exactly what we had until the 90s.
  • If it's no tactile (Score:5, Insightful)

    by geekoid (135745) <dadinportland AT yahoo DOT com> on Tuesday February 18, 2014 @08:50PM (#46281601) Homepage Journal

    people will have to look at it.
    Touch UI for cars is a bad idea. Dangerous, and will break cross model and manufacture consistency.

  • by fyngyrz (762201) on Tuesday February 18, 2014 @09:03PM (#46281687) Homepage Journal

    Cars and trucks and motorcycles bounce . Plus, we can't always be looking. See, so we can't always control where we're touching it; we can't even always control how many fingers we put down.

    We need to be able to talk to these systems. My Garmin GPS does this. I don't have to touch it. I say "voice command" and off we go. No touching. Bouncing doesn't matter. I don't have to look.

    Until you get to this level of interface, you're doing it wrong, and furthermore, as of this point in time, you're also behind the curve, because others are doing it right.

    Thanks for this, slashdot, just this morning I was cursing at a touch interface in my vehicle.

  • by roc97007 (608802) on Tuesday February 18, 2014 @10:38PM (#46282297) Journal

    Agreed. This is also why the controls on well designed vehicles are large enough to easily grasp when the vehicle is shifting, and have a distinctive shape to aid in recognizing them.

    Even my motorcycle follows this paradigm. It's a touring model with AM/FM/WB radio, CB, cruise control and other features, which makes the handlebars very crowded. Nevertheless, I can (after much practice) set the cruise, change the channel, signal a lane change and talk to that trucker I just passed without looking at my hands. And this is because the controls have a distinctive shape and position and are large enough to easily manipulate, even with gloves.

    It's somewhat of an embarrassment that my big expensive touch-screen stereo/navigator in the truck is such a distraction and so difficult to use while driving, when my daughter can easily change channels and modes with the el-cheapo stereo in her car without looking. Touch screens in cars aren't really a good idea.

    Parenthetically, (geek alert) the controls on TOS Enterprise, with their distinctive shapes, seemed a LOT more practical to me for an environment with lots of tipping and juddering in combat, as opposed to the all-touch-screen controls in later generations, which required that you keep your hands in contact with the control surface in a potentially hostile environment and watch your hands manipulate virtual buttons and switches, when you should probably be looking at something else.

  • by mjwx (966435) on Tuesday February 18, 2014 @11:03PM (#46282409)

    Physical buttons and knobs are controls you can use without looking at them. You only need to memorise their locations (should only take 5 or so minutes) and once you've done that you never need to look at them again.

    I'm also a big proponent of physical buttons, but this guy's idea might actually be better - you don't even need to know where the buttons are. The specifics need a little refinement IMO, but this is the first car touchscreen interface idea I've seen that is acceptable to me.

    OK, I just read the guy's website and he's got no clue.

    Multi-touch gestures to replace dials and buttons, context sensitive, requiring the driver to memorise the gestures. What is this guy thinking?

    This is a huge leap backwards for car stereo interfaces. The submitter and author clearly doesn't drive a car because making accurate gestures in the console from behind a wheel is not easy. In order to make any changes the driver will need to stop the car or the gestures will be all over the place as well as taking the drivers focus off of driving.

    What we need to do is get rid of the touchscren fad in cars, not to make it worse. The articles author complains about other touch screen interfaces whilst completely ignoring that his own has the same fundamental problems plus some that existing interfaces don't have.

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