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Car PC Hacks by Damien Stolarz

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Hack #61. Find More Ways to Control Your in-Car Computer

On the horizon are several new integrated control methods that will make in-car PC control even easier.

Some people in the car PC world like to claim that auto manufacturers are a decade behind the technology curve. True, it took years before a single car had MP3 support, and even today almost no new cars support it.

The automotive industry has two strong drivers for its technology: the need for minimal price per unit and the need for maximum safety. Thus, expensive computer gadgets that add to driver distraction are the first to get cut in any design effort, and those features that do make it through this powerful filter of cost and litigation-consciousness have to be designed to be cheap and as safe as practical.

To a user-interface designer, arguably, no user interface is inherently intuitive. Even the mouse is not intuitive; rather, every desktop computer uses it, and it's a good control method, so people can adapt to new programs easily because they know how to use a mouse.

If you have new functionality to add to a car, you have a few choices: use a familiar interface (be it good or bad), or start from scratch and design a new one that, once learned, will be safer and easier to use.

Rotating Knobs

At a recent automotive trade show I visited the booth of a very, very cool company, Immersion Technologies (http://www.immersion.com/automotive), which designs and builds haptic (touch) interfaces for a variety of technology fields, ...

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