If you have a (relatively) new car, the center stack is probably flawed. You'd hoped for something sleek and intuitive, and instead, you wound up with Lieutenant Uhura's computer from Star Trek: lots of bells and whistles that don't seem to do much of anything.
This is a major problem, and solving it ranks among the biggest challenges facing today's car companies. Our vehicles themselves may be better built than they once were, but as systems like Ford's popular but much-loathed MyFord Touch demonstrate, our infotainment features are ready for the scrap heap.
Enter designer Matthaeus Krenn, who bemoans the fact that automakers "merely replicate old button layouts and shapes on these new, flat, glowing surfaces" littering today's dashboards. In his notes for the video embedded above, Krenn says:
I propose a new mode that can be invoked at any time: It clears the entire screen of those tiny, intangible control elements and makes way for big, forgiving gestures that can be performed anywhere. In place of the lost tactile feedback, the interface leverages the driver's muscle memory to ensure their ability to control crucial features without taking their eyes off the road.
Which sounds great, until you see what he's actually proposed.
Is Krenn's prototype beautiful? Absolutely. It looks like something out of Logan's Run or Tron (high praise, back in the day). It would make a fantastic control panel for your in-home thermostat, lighting, and stereo.
Could it work in a car? Yes, but it would probably kill you.
We understand how Krenn's interface works. We appreciate the way that it's designed to be adaptive, so that it works no matter where you first touch it. Eventually, we could get used to its one-, two-, three-, four-, and five-finger controls.
But learning the system would take time, and we could envision many occasions when we meant to turn up the a/c but instead cranked up the Def Leppard. Also, we think he's being far too optimistic when he suggest that a user could flip through her entire song catalog without glancing over at the screen.
And heaven forbid one of your parents should get a car with Krenn's interface. You thought teaching them AOL was hard?