Paradise by the dashboard light

Lots of stuff on vehicle interfaces

I’ve just gone through the process of selecting a new car. One of the things that struck me was the level of integration of communication and internet options available to me. I was astonished (shows how out of touch I am) to be offered an internet connection with browser available to the driver. This was integrated with the navigation and entertainment screen and controlled from a ‘paddle’ located between the driver and passenger. It even came with ‘apps’ from the vehicle manufacturer – Infotainment

In theory, most of this functionality is disabled with the car in motion, but clearly it can be disabled with a bit of hacking. Here’s someone watching a streamed video with the car in motion

I understand that it could in theory be operated by the passenger, but the screen remains in the view of the driver.

And here’s NVIDIA’s take on the driver interface of the future.

Again, very complex, pictorial representations built into the interface. I can’t conceive of this not requiring divided attention to operate. There are times and places for complex interfaces, driving isn’t one of them.

You might expect that the car manufacturers would be erring on the side of safety, but given the shiny new toys to offer to customers you’d be wrong. For a flavour of what the manufacturers are try to achieve, the comments from the industry to the US Department for Transportation’s Visual-Manual NHTSA Driver Distraction Guidelines For In-Vehicle Electronic Devices (Guide) are enlightening. While the DOT is trying to simplify what can be and should be implemented, the industry is pushing for the minimum regulation. No change there I guess.

Image credit: romainguy via Creative Commons on flickr

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About the author

Tony Atkinson

I lead the ABB Consulting Operational Human Factors team. I've spent over 30 years in the process industries, working in control rooms around the world, in the fields of ergonomics, control and alarm systems, control room design and operational and cultural issues such as communications, competency and fatigue. I've been blogging on diverse topics that interest me in the widest sense of 'human factors', all of which share the same common element, the 'Mk.1 Human Being' and their unique limitations, abilities and behaviours. I'll discuss the technical and organisational issues that affect safety and performance of these process safety operators and technicians and how this impacts control rooms and the wider plant. However learning comes from many places and you can expect entries about aviation, automotive, marine, healthcare, military and many other fields. Outside of work, I indulge in travel, food, wine and flying kites to keep myself moderately sane. Please feel free to post your comments on each post. Blog entries are posted with no set frequency. To ensure you don't miss out on the latest blog post, click the button below to subscribe to email alerts when a new blog has been posted.
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