I suppose I’m lucky to have never had to deal with the mess that is current automotive dashboard design. While the 240s climate controls look like they fell out of a strip mall Radio Shack in 1982, at least you can use them by touch when your dash lights are blown. As touch screens take over the dashboard in many new cars, it seems there is rising frustration from drivers being forced to dive deep into menu structures just to adjust their heated seats.

Joe Sharkey in the NY Times relates his recent experience driving a rental Volvo XC60:

The electronic dashboard interface — the controls for everything other than actually making the car go — was baffling. As I drove, I tried to figure out unfathomable symbols and notices, from “Brian’s iPhone,” which for some reason flashed on the dashboard screen whenever I tried in vain to regulate the air-conditioner, to an elaborately designed radio that resisted my efforts to change the channel.

So the guy who passed me on the 105 tapping his horn and waving to signal that my rear windshield wiper remained on, even though it was a sunny day, should know that hip-hop music also was blasting inside my car in maddening synchronization with the wipers that I couldn’t turn off.

The Sad Sack pictured here is enjoying the latest innovation from Apple: a “Digital Dash” that tracks his head and eye movements as he navigates to the closest liquor store. It’s part of a patent application for a giant touch-screen dashboard powered by iOS 7. While the screen will have physical ridges and indentations, it will essentially absorb all physical knobs and switches into its virtual maw. Apple realizes that tactility is important, so they create a cyber solution for a problem they created in the first place.

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