In today’s vehicles, many manufacturers are eschewing the use of traditional buttons and switches in favor of touchscreen infotainment systems. This trend is likely to continue in the near future.
According to the results of the Swedish automotive magazine Vi Bilagare, there is now new information that demonstrates those touchscreens are significantly less safe and efficient than the alternative that was used in the past.
During the course of the summer, the publication carried out tests on a total of 12 different models of automobiles, eleven of which were contemporary and the remaining one, a Volvo from 2005 that featured physical controls.
Test drivers were given the opportunity to become familiar with all aspects of the cars. The tests themselves were straightforward. The participants were given directions to drive along an empty airstrip at a speed of 68 miles per hour and were timed as they completed four different infotainment tasks. These tasks ranged from fiddling with the radio to adjusting the temperature in the vehicle’s air conditioning system.
According to the findings of a Swedish magazine, the Volvo from 2005 performed far better than the newer automobiles that were equipped with an entertainment screen. A driver was able to complete all four duties in just ten seconds and travel 1,000 feet.
While all was going on, the best time for the newer cars was almost 14 seconds. However, even these rates were considered to be relative outliers due to the fact that the vast majority of automobiles equipped with entertainment systems required well over 20 seconds and at least 2,000 feet to complete the task.
Although it is not the most rigorous empirical study, and the sample size is quite small, the suggestions that it presents are thought-provoking.
There is little question about the potency of infotainment systems, which often include anything from advanced GPS navigation to cameras that capture a full 360 degrees of an environment. It starts to seem a little silly, though, when the interfaces are not user-friendly and they manage things like the wipers on the windshield or the temperature controls.
The traditional buttons, knobs, and switches all have a distinct texture, which makes it easier for drivers to feel for them and make adjustments to them without taking their eyes off the road. A touchscreen that is easy to slide around does not. In addition, analog controls are always in the same place, but using a touchscreen may require additional navigation in order to access some features.
Is the trend toward elegant minimalism as opposed to simplicity, as well as the mania for technology that mimics that of smartphones, responsible for the transformation of our automobiles into machines that needlessly distract us? There must be a balance that works for everyone.
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