The pace at which carmakers have moved away from the conventional auto show toward the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) has little to do with how they want to be a leader in Las Vegas’ great weather and technology.
The race for bigger, better screens that can do much more and is often updated has managed to dramatically change the interior design of the car. Once overflowing with buttons and knobs, hippest interiors are now quite minimalist. Which leads us to wonder, what do people really want?
I have long felt that it is foolish to rely on the screen alone. When the touchscreen takes on all the infotainment duty of the car, it inevitably moves to the menu, which inevitably draws attention from the road. You can’t feel the “buttons” on a screen, which means you must look at the screen and not at the street. This may sound innocent, but if we agree that it is dangerous to look at the phone while driving, it would be dangerous to try to do something on the screen away from the road.
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There are also aesthetic arguments against the rise of the screen. The Tesla Model 3, for example, will carry even the most enthusiastic minimalist. And I’m sure if you ask an interior designer, they’ll tell you about the minimalism of the 2010s.
That being said, there was a time when vehicles had many of the features that exist today but had to work with smaller screens. This sometimes leads to cars that were ridiculously overloaded with buttons. Just because you can feel a physical button doesn’t mean you can instantly know when it’s surrounded by dozens more, which isn’t really that safe.
What do you think? Should we all-in on the touchscreen? Avoid them at all costs? Or is there a way to design intelligently that is the best of both worlds?