Touchscreen displays in our cars aren't going away anytime soon. So designer Matthaeus Krenn figured that now was as good a time as any to radically improve their interfaces, replacing grids of ugly buttons and options with an elegant and minimal multi-touch UI — -that the driver doesn't need to look at.
Because, of course, the biggest problem with car touchscreens is that they require the driver to take their eyes off the road momentarily. And if that moment is actual several moments while they try to find and press a small button, that can be incredibly dangerous. So Krenn's concept takes advantage of a modern touchscreen's ability to recognise multiple fingers at once.
Placing two fingers on the screen automatically brings up a control directly under your fingertips that will adjust the volume whether you slide it up or down. Using three fingers lets you change the radio station instead, and everything from track selection, to media source, to seat warmers can be controlled depending on the number and position of fingers you use. The system does have a bit of a learning curve, though, requiring the driver to know just how many fingers they have to use to adjust a given setting. But a simple voiceover could announce exactly what's being changed when their fingers touch the screen, allowing for some level of trial and error while they master it.
What's particularly neat is that you can actually try out Krenn's concept right now, if you have an iPad. Just visit this page on his website on your tablet and pretend you're cruising down the road at the same time. [Matthaeus Krenn via Wired]