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View Poll Results: Your preference?
Touchscreen 42 16.67%
Buttons, knobs & switches 210 83.33%
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Old 26th August 2015, 17:58   #1
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Default Touchscreen / Feather Touch Controls: Boon or Bane?

What does one do when he/she has to change the temperature setting of the ACC (Automatic Climate Control) when driving? While driving when I feel the need to play with the AC, I gently place my wrist on the gear lever, extend my fingers to the control panel, I follow the creases between the MECHANICAL switches and reach the temperature knob. The knob is again a PHYSICAL knob which rotates with a CLICK action, one click for 0.5 degree change in the thermal settings. Everything is done without lifting my eyes off the road.

I was wondering what one has to do to change the settings of ACC if the control panel is a Touchscreen or Feather Touch Controls? Where are the creases between switches that one can follow so as to not lift the eyes off the road? Where is the mechanical feedback of a button push or turning of a knob to give the driver a confidence that the desired action has been performed again WITHOUT LIFTING EYES OFF THE ROADS? In my opinion, operating these NEW AGE controls without looking at them is like trying to use a Smart Phone with eyes shut. One has to remember the co-ordinates (x and y co-ordinates) of the Virtual Buttons to operate these Electronic Witchcraft without diverting attention from the primary task of driving. It’s quite logical for ICE to have touchscreen controls. The touch panel saves precious real estate on the dashboard by displaying options in multiple pages. Cars with touchscreen ICE has steering mounted mechanical buttons for basic functionalities like volume, call related controls, track/station change etc. But in my opinion, providing touchsceen / feather touch controls for climate control is not at all required. The trouble of using these is accentuated when there is glare or even during day time operation. It not only gets difficult to see the screen but also quite cumbersome to operate. And trying to do this when driving is quite UNSAFE.

These touchscreens are being advertised by manufacturers as an up-market offering. But some manufacturers are planning to fit these in their entry level models (Ex- Renault Kwid). So where is the exclusivity now? What I wanted to understand from fellow BHPians is how utilitarian are these as compared to their Mechanical counterpart?

This is good from 'usability while driving' point of view?



OR THESE


Last edited by GTO : 27th August 2015 at 12:15. Reason: Correcting image size :)
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Old 26th August 2015, 20:44   #2
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Default re: Touchscreen / Feather Touch Controls: Boon or Bane?

I would take 'tactile' controls over touchscreen stuff ANY DAY, esp. in applications like in-car controls where it's paramount for me as the driver not to be distracted from my primary action (driving) but still be able to use in-cabin features comfortably without needing to fiddle or take my eyes off the road.

The bling is all well and good for car-makers to peddle as 'features', but would I prefer it at possible risk to myself and others around me? No thanks! I can barely manage using my touchscreen phone to type emails without smashing it in frustration! YMMV.

Last edited by Chetan_Rao : 26th August 2015 at 20:46.
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Old 26th August 2015, 21:03   #3
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Default re: Touchscreen / Feather Touch Controls: Boon or Bane?

Definitely a menace for me. I needn't take my eyes off the road to adjust the cabin temperature in my SX4, or switch from fresh air to recirculation and so on. Similarly, I am used to tactile feedback and operate most of the other controls without looking away from the road. Recently I drove a car with touchscreen HU, and though it looks and sounds cool, I had a major problem trying to switch to next track, pausing etc. And there was no steering controls too.

This was the first thing that struck me when the new Honda city came with a touch screen AC. Honestly, thats a huge fail on the engineers behind this new contraption. Maybe cool for the co passenger, but definitely not for the driver.
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Old 26th August 2015, 21:30   #4
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Default re: Touchscreen / Feather Touch Controls: Boon or Bane?

In the new Hyundai Creta, the driver has to click on Agree for using the ICE every time the car is started. The Caution to which the Driver Agrees, is about making any selections on the HU only when static. Is it that manufacturers are also aware of the inconvenience and trying to get a consent from the driver which will legally save the manufacturers in case any mishap that might happen when using the touchscreens?


Last edited by GTO : 27th August 2015 at 12:14. Reason: Correcting image size :)
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Old 26th August 2015, 21:38   #5
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Zest's temperature controls can be controlled via the knobs, the touch screen or voice commands, so inclusion of its screen is not the right thing here.
Instead of that it should have been Honda's system which should have been included.
But when I test drove the Jazz, I could perform most of the operations without looking at it.

It's all about getting familiar with the layouts. Then it is not a major deterrent.
But maybe it's because of this smartphone generation that we live in, that it is comparatively easier to adapt. Might not be easy for everyone.
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Old 26th August 2015, 22:03   #6
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Default re: Touchscreen / Feather Touch Controls: Boon or Bane?

Good that someone brought up this topic! I am one of those technically handicapped people who doesn't find my smartphone as simple to use as my good old keypad phones. Only because I find the touchscreen cumbersome to use. In a car it is even more trouble. Keeping controls for car on a touchscreen is outright dangerous in my opinion.
However I can assure you that research is already underway to improve touchscreens in the car to give the kind of feedback we want. Ex: The buttons on the touchscreen would pop out slightly to inform their presence when we move our fingers nearby. Cool, right? If touchscreens are to stay, you will see such feature soon on the cars!
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Old 26th August 2015, 22:22   #7
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Default re: Touchscreen / Feather Touch Controls: Boon or Bane?

Except GPS and maybe to browse song folders or contacts I don't think the touchscreen serves any other "frequently used" purpose.
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Old 26th August 2015, 22:29   #8
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I think the touch screen looks good and gives an upmarket feel to the car. As most manufacturers are going for this instead of the mechanical controls , this to some extent also indicates the consumer preference in general. Manufacturers are also driven by the fact they need to continuously bring "changes" ( read upgrades ) to their product. Safety is ultimately in the hands of the end user. The compliance levels for general safety rules for basic things like not using a cellphone while driving is pretty low. So it is unlikely that the caution messages of this sorts will have any desired effect.
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Old 26th August 2015, 22:41   #9
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Default re: Touchscreen / Feather Touch Controls: Boon or Bane?

Ahh! Reminds me of the good old days when I could type entire messages in T9 on the alpha-numeric keypad of my Nokia with my eyes shut. Try doing that on an iPhone!!

A lot depends on the size of the screen and the sheer number of functions that it is used to operate. The large touchscreen climate control panel of the Honda City, for instance, is fairly easy and intuitive to use on the move once you are familiar with what is where. All controls are widely spaced and their is the prominent audible ''click' that conforms the action. Big, simple, elegant and effective.

In contrast, I have always found operating a modern touchscreen in-dash head unit to be a royal pain. You need to take your eyes and your mind off the road, concentrate of the display, figure out how to do what you want to do, then move your finger to the exact point on the screen and press it. And after all this, there is a good chance that the unresponsive screen and the buggy interface will co-conspire to not register anything. Repeat! It is very cumbersome, more so in a moving car.

Last edited by Shreyans_Jain : 26th August 2015 at 22:43.
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Old 26th August 2015, 22:51   #10
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Default re: Touchscreen / Feather Touch Controls: Boon or Bane?

In my opinion, the basic controls for the volume, track and station must have physical switches that you can operate by feel alone. Even if they are only on the steering wheel, its ok. Just as long as they are somewhere the driver can operate safely.
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Old 26th August 2015, 23:34   #11
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Default Touchscreen / Feather Touch Controls: An Aid or A Menace

Can you close your eyes and type on your touchscreen enabled smart phone?

Nope? Well, then neither can you adjust anything on the damn touchscreen of your car without taking your eyes off the road. Period.

And no, you won't get used to it. If you can't type on your smartphone's screen without looking, even after a year of owning it, then you won't be able to adjust anything on the damn touchscreen of your car, even after a year of owning it.

You use your phone more times in a day than the dashboard. So if you can't do it on the phone screen, you can't do it on the cars dash either.

Oh, and to answer your question, yes the touch screen is a damn nuisance. The only car where I've seen a touchscreen make sense is the Tesla. And it works because it's twice the size of these cheesy touchscreen displays on the cars these days.

Last edited by sourav9385 : 26th August 2015 at 23:36.
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Old 27th August 2015, 07:14   #12
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Default re: Touchscreen / Feather Touch Controls: Boon or Bane?

Personally, I think touchscreen controls are a nuisance. I drove a Toyota Corolla fitted with one of these things the other day (it was a rental), and found it to be horribly annoying. I found myself constantly having to look at the screen to do mundane things such as change the speed of the fan or increase the temperature, which distracted me from looking at the road.

I prefer buttons/tactile control. I can do most of the operations in my car without having to look at what I'm doing, because I know exactly where the buttons/switches are and what they do.
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Old 27th August 2015, 09:00   #13
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Default re: Touchscreen / Feather Touch Controls: Boon or Bane?

Except for the feather touch operation required for the honda city, which i found was quite a bother, don't all other manufactures provide physical buttons for the climate control? Whether it is the xuv 500 or the upcoming kwid.

Climate control definitely needs physical buttons as is the case now.
Ice has steering mounted controls and volume, media, and power toggle physically along with a touch screen, as is the case now.
Additional display features such as nav and tyretronics need you to take your eyes of the drive anyways.

So isn't the current mix of a touchscreen for that added bling, and physical buttons for climate control, and music navigation and call reception through steering mounted controls just the right mix of tech and ergonomics. I think this should stay as is with more value additions
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Old 27th August 2015, 09:21   #14
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Default re: Touchscreen / Feather Touch Controls: Boon or Bane?

Personally, I'd any day prefer a conventional push-button & rotary knob layout compared to touchscreen & feather controls. During driving the only viewing must be of the windshield. Luxury brands today spend a lot of money on enhancing operational haptics (i.e the feedback from pushing a button, using indicator stalks, horn etc), so this shows that actual controls are indeed important in making a drive that much more luxurious. At the most, an iDrive like knob system must exist & not just purely a touch-screen only interface.

Also, these days all companies have shifted much of the audio/telephony controls to the steering just so that drivers can focus on the road without having to move their hands to the buttons in the centre console, a touchscreen would not only necessitate moving the hand but also the eyes to the centre console which in my view is as distracting as using a phone. Its better to skip such controls if possible & save the money.

Last edited by dark.knight : 27th August 2015 at 09:38.
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Old 27th August 2015, 11:07   #15
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Default re: Touchscreen / Feather Touch Controls: Boon or Bane?

I too feel that going the "All touch" way is not a great idea from usability and safety perspective. There is another older thread where I'd posted about my views on this.
Link
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