The Next Generation of Touch-Based Car Controls
The future of in-car controls forgoes physical buttons and knobs but adds frustration.
Touch-based interfaces rule in the smartphone market, but have proven to be pretty much a failure in cars. Frustrations over MyFord Touch and the touch-sensitive buttons in the Chevy Volt’s center stack are two prominent examples. And now, Cadillac is pouring tons of dealer-training and consumer-education resources into its upcoming Cue system for the XTS, which is largely touch-based.
Let’s face it: Touch-screens are easy to use when you’re staring at them, but traditional knobs and buttons work better when you’re not -- such as while driving with your eyes on the road. But that isn’t stopping automotive supplier Magna from developing several high-tech touch-based technologies for automotive interiors.
Magna is working with several partners to eliminate traditional physical knobs and buttons, and instead integrate controls directly into a car’s interior panels. A prototype glossy center console made out of a material called Clearmelt from Engel Technologies repairs itself after being scratched or nicked. At the rear of the center console is a haptic interface hump that includes a technology called Touchskin that’s used to control various systems in the car just with fingertip gestures.
Drivers would also be able to place their phone on either side of the gear shift on the concept center console and have it charged through what’s known as Qi transmitters, which are expected to become common in phones. But we’d suggest that automakers create some type of cavity so that the phone doesn’t fall between the front seats and the console after the first hard turn.
Check out the knob-free and buttonless future of in-car controls in the slick demonstration video below -- although if you’re not into new-age techno you may want to mute your speakers first.
I believe car companies are going to have to rethink what technology they're using and how. If it doesn't function well and improve the driver experience, then learn from the mistake, drop it from you equipment list, and move on to something else.
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