Dashboard touchscreens are becoming standard for new cars. Applications to control the radio, heating and air conditioning, in-car calls and GPS are just a fraction of features housed on these sleek displays. While voice recognition and steering wheel toggles can reduce driver distraction, there’s still concern that motorists are frequently taking their eyes off road to fiddle with these buttonless interfaces.
Designer Matthaeus Krenn wants to simplify things. He’s created a minimal, multi-touch interface that does away with the cluttered grid of options. And the best part? The driver doesn’t even need to look at the interface while using it. The entire screen becomes one big control.
The key to Krenn’s design is a touchscreen’s ability to recognize multiple fingers at once and assign tasks to those movements. Putting two fingers anywhere on the screen brings up the interface directly under the fingers. Where ever the fingers are placed, that becomes the point of reference. To adjust a setting — say, the radio volume — just drag up or down.
“You can do that really fast, too, without having to be really accurate,” Kreen said in this video. “The reason why that works is because the interface is designed to be as forgiving as possible. Accidental sideways movements are ignored and even moving your fingers at different speeds barely effects the outcome.”
But how do drivers control multiple features without multiple buttons and sliders on the screen? Because it’s a multi-touch display, drivers can invoke different controls by using a certain number of fingers.
“With two fingers you can control the volume,” Krenn said. “With three fingers you control the music source. Four fingers control temperature. And five fingers control air flow.”
Obviously, only four controls isn’t enough for a car’s range of dashboard options. So Krenn designed the interface to react also to how far apart fingers are spread, giving a whole new range of controls.
“All in all, this interface gives you control over eight different settings,” Krenn added. “And it does that without you having to take your eyes off the road because you’re trying to hit that one small button on the screen.”
Want to take the interface for a test drive? You can, if you have an tablet. Just log on to Krenn’s website and start your pretend engine.
Credit: Matthaeus Krenn