Guest post: The place of capacitive touch screens in the car

Today’s guest post comes from Daniel Dur. Edited only for formatting.

The place of capacitive touch screens in the car

I’ll start by saying that I have some years of experience testing car multimedia systems, both operated by resistive touch and physical buttons, combined with some more years of smartphones use in the car….and continue with the TL;DR version of this article: capacitive touch screens, and to some extend, capacitive controls, have no place in a vehicle, as they put the driver, the passengers and people around in danger.

Let’s do the following experiment: Sit at a desk or table with your phone around. Open your phone’s app drawer (or any screen where you have a grid of apps) and put it half a meter away from you (a little further than where your mouse would be). Now, while looking straight ahead, try to start a certain application on your phone, preferably not one that’s on the edge or right in the middle of the screen. Do the same while your arm is hanging in the air and your hand is not touching the phone or the table first.

Let’s take this experiment one step further and do as a passenger of a moving car.

Do you get my point now?

For the last half a century, consumer electronics have got us used with physical buttons. Knobs, switches, push-buttons, flip-buttons, anything that would take some mechanical force to actuate and would give some sort of feedback (a click, some mechanical resistance, etc.). But since a decade or so, smartphones have pushed the touch screen based interaction to the point where there are capacitive touch only devices (usually phones still have 3-4 buttons left).

On another hand, the automotive GPS devices are traditionally used via resistive touch screens, a trend that very few models have broken in the last few years.

Now, because everything touch operated is cool, and because the smartphones with resistive touch screens have died out almost a decade ago (I still remember the last Symbian powered Nokia phones with resistive touch screen), for obvious and valid reasons, everything operated via capacitive touch controls gets this cool factor.

This little article is an (slightly frustrated) answer to the (obviously) touch oriented interfaces that both Android Auto and Car Play display on a car’s head unit, even if the car has no touch screen.

PS: Imagine using your computer’s keyboard, your TV’s remote and your car key as capacitive touch devices… just because it is cool…

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Paul E King

Paul King started with GoodAndEVO in 2011, which merged with Pocketables, and as of 2018 he's evidently the owner. He lives in Nashville, works at a film production company, is married with two kids. Facebook | Twitter | Donate | More posts by Paul | Subscribe to Paul's posts

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