Automotive Interaction Design

Whenever I listen to a review of a car (mostly on top gear) the reviewers usually complain about the electronic gizmo’s within the car. Most notably on reviews of BMW’s I-drive system. What people usually find is that the I-drive is unneccessarily complicated.

This brings me on to the new audi a8, launched a couple of weeks back. A lot of people were complaining about the touchpad that audi had included on the dashboard. See picture:

The touchpad is on the console just infront of the gearstick. Looks pretty well positioned to me.

I was talking with a friend and we were contemplating the use of touchscreens and gestures in cars. Things like on wheel buttons and heads-up displays are all great ways to get a driver to interact with the cars systems, but if you’ve ever tried texting on an iPhone while driving (not reccommended…or legal) you’ll be pretty sceptical about the use of touchpads and for in car use. This is why Audi seperated the touch controls from the screen. I’ve yet to use the system (mainly because I’m not the sort of person who gets let into audi showrooms) but it definately got me thinking.

Are there any companies who specify in automotive interaction design? Basically I’m a Junior Interaction Designer at the moment i’m still considering which area to focus my career on. I’d love to find out if anyone works in a UX/IA company that does work for automotive design companies.

Loughborough Uni dept of Ergonomics do this type of stuff and have done work for companies like Bentley, Aston Martin, Land Rover… perhaps they can share some contacts.

When I did my masters there, there was an Aston Martin designer taking the ergonomics module with us. When we were asked to bring an object and talk about its ergonomic shortcomings - he brought the center console from DB7 :slight_smile:

I believe touchscreens can be very appropriate and successful in cars, they just need to rely on gestures and not GUI. It doesn’t even has to be screen, just touch.

Yeah, I’ll see if I can get in touch with them. I can’t really find much on the internet about this subject. It also sometimes seems as if interaction has skipped this step. Probably because of the massive amount of secrecy and backstabbing that goes on within the car industry?

If you employed Interaction/UX design thinking from the start of an automotive project you could almost redesign the car? And maybe make things cheaper and easier for the end user along the way.

I’d love to have a look at any info that anyone has on this area. I.E. books/papers/concepts/websites.

How any buttons?!

BMW has always been the very first choice when it comes to automotive and car accessories design.
The BMW Gina Concept received a remarkable 35% of the votes, while the 2010 Camaro was voted by 26% of the readers.

Any word on what other design firms focus on this kind of work? I’m really interested in finding an internship designing automotive interfaces.

Here’s a thing… If you have to offer training courses on how to use your fancy new car dashboard, you have failed to design it properly:

Also… where the heck am I supposed to look here:

I totally get why the car industry needs to seek out external firms to do these kinds of things, but I still haven’t seen a good complete solution yet. I love the growing tree idea in the Honda, though. Gameifying eco driving is brilliant.

Sorry for hijacking… Not directly related to the above, but I wrote a post on the Transportation forum about a UX related issue that would maybe fit this thread. Feel free to reply you thoughts on the original post.