Modern touchscreen infotainment systems in cars are now much more than mere windows for your car’s audio system. They are now bigger, fancier and even control most of the functions of your car. Not only you can operate in-car functions like operating your car’s AC, windshield wipers, sunroof and much more, but also perform other functions like book your tickets or order food from your favourite food joint. With an increase in sizes and functionalities of infotainment systems, the presence of physical buttons used for operating them is decreasing gradually. Is it a good sign of progress? Well, not entirely.
In recent studies and experiences, it has been proven that physical buttons should be present for certain functions of your car, to ensure better safety levels, especially while driving. While bigger and more tech-packed touchscreens make the car’s cabin look fancy and cleaner, they are less intuitive to use while on the go.
Studies have shown that the time required for the execution of functions related to climate control and audio system is more in touchscreens as compared to through physical buttons. In addition, executing functions through touchscreens while driving distracts the driver more, which can lead to fatal accidents.
Touchscreens in India
MG was one of the first carmakers in India to offer an extensive touchscreen for the infotainment system for its debut product Hector, which could control many functions of your car through voice commands. Even the controls for AC were included in the touchscreen, with no physical buttons for them.
While this move made the cabin of the Hector look cool and futuristic, it came at the cost of practicality, as many car buyers still prefer physical buttons for AC. Also, voice commands are not used by more than half of the car buyers even today, which shows how significant physical buttons for the infotainment system are even today.
In the present times, carmakers are putting more emphasis on using voice commands for numerous in-car functions. While this sounds like a fancy idea, most people still have the reflexes of operating car functions through physical buttons only. In addition, many times, the software embedded in the car is not able to grab the accent of the driver, due to which the driver has to stop the vehicle first and then operate the required function through the touchscreen. It takes up more time and reduces the overall practicality of the driving experience. Also, the costs of repairing such large touchscreens are higher, as they use more electronic setups, including multiple chips and wiring.