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Running Apps From Your Car's Dashboard 171

Posted by timothy
from the how-do-you-get-extra-lives? dept.
An anonymous reader writes "I guess is was inevitable, now that BMW is letting you view and make tweets from behind the wheel, but is it really a good idea to let people run smartphone apps from their dashboard monitor? I guess for navigation you could run your favorite map-app there, but there is nothing to stop people from running other apps on their dashboard too. It might be better than texting from the handset, but I'm not sure I want people playing Angry Birds while they drive."
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Running Apps From Your Car's Dashboard

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  • Boston (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 05, 2012 @05:32PM (#39904277)

    >> I'm not sure I want people playing Angry Birds while they drive

    Here in Boston, we use the same techniques for both.

  • Angry Birds (Score:5, Funny)

    by Arancaytar (966377) <arancaytar.ilyaran@gmail.com> on Saturday May 05, 2012 @05:46PM (#39904367) Homepage

    Could lead to playing Angry Cars inadvertently.

  • by Ogi_UnixNut (916982) on Saturday May 05, 2012 @05:59PM (#39904437) Homepage

    ...enabled in car systems?

    Until recently, I had no touchscreens in my car, but once I got my new shiny smartphone, it had a rather cool "Car mode", where it made all the buttons large and easy to press, etc...

    However nice it was in theory, I found that once I mounted it on my dash, it became a right PITA to operate while driving. While complex things (like setting up the maps) would make sense to stop at the side and fiddle with, other things (like setting the volume, or switching playlists/songs) shouldn't.

    The biggest annoyance was the fact that operating the touchscreen required me to look at it, even for simple things like the volume control or music switching. I could operate all the major functions of my old car radio without even looking at it, it was well laid out, and buttons were different shapes and sizes, really easy to learn.

    I really think touchscreens are not ready for car use just yet, at least until they develop some overlay that can change its tactile feedback. Anything that requires you to look at it to operate should have no place in the dashboard IMO (if it was mounted only on the passenger side out of reach of the driver, that would be good as well, but then I suspect some people would just lean over while hurtling down the motorway).

    I don't know, I feel this will just increase the number of accidents due to people looking at the screen in order to find the song they want, or to tweet or something else... and as someone who has to share the roads with them, it is somewhat of a worry.... :/

    • by liteyear (738262) on Saturday May 05, 2012 @06:25PM (#39904613) Homepage

      Amen - so much so that I voted with my cash by avoiding the 2011 Holden and buying a 2010 second hand instead. The 2011 model's greatest selling point (according to the ads) is the "iQ" touchscreen interface - making them Holden's "smartest" cars yet. I hired one for a few days and found it a grand step backwards. With no tactic feedback it was almost impossible to operate while driving. You basically had to have a passenger, or pull over to change the radio station.

      The ideal user interface for car entertainment/information devices has already been invented. It's a button for binary operations and a knob for analog operations. It's incredibly clever because get this - you can feel it!

      Just because a touchscreen is a wonderful interface for a mobile phone doesn't mean everything else in your life will get better with one.

    • by bmo (77928) on Saturday May 05, 2012 @06:30PM (#39904651)

      I really think touchscreens are not ready for car use just yet, at least until they develop some overlay that can change its tactile feedback. Anything that requires you to look at it to operate should have no place in the dashboard IMO (if it was mounted only on the passenger side out of reach of the driver, that would be good as well, but then I suspect some people would just lean over while hurtling down the motorway).

      You've hit upon something that comes under the study of ergonomics. Tactile feedback matters. It's the reason why the start button on a CNC machine, a round, recessed, and sometimes molly-guarded green button looks and functions differently than the emergency stop button, which is a big, fat, red mushroom that you can hit with the back of your hand which then requires a twist to physically reset it once pressed. You *can* tell the difference between the two by touch alone. Because having to actually look may mean the difference between someone living or dying.

      Sure. Touchscreens look cool and all that, but for a lot of things they are less than useless.

      If you cannot operate something on the dashboard of a car with gloves and not looking, it's not designed right.

      (The thing about emergency stop buttons brings me to my pet peeve that a missile launch button in bad science fiction movies is always a big, red, real-life estop button instead of a molly-guarded toggle switch or something actually more realistic. Also, with all the shiny touchscreens using the LCARS interface on Star Trek series and movies, how come we never see any janitorial staff keeping these things clean and gleaming?)

      --
      BMO

      • by aaronb1138 (2035478) on Saturday May 05, 2012 @08:07PM (#39905067)

        I've come to realize that while in certain use cases, touch screens are great (basically any general computing situation where the user chooses apps). They are only useful in a small minority of industrial design scenarios.

        Industrial design engineers are increasingly using lcd+touchscreen as a kludge because they lack the intellect to fully step back and imagine the full breath of use cases for a device at the beginning of a project. The only industrial design use case where lcd+touchscreen belongs is where an image or similar visual media need to be manipulated by panning, zooming, or placing indicators by hand or finger. If you need a touchscreen to operate functions of an automobile while driving, you have failed as an engineer.

        • It's partly the "kewl" factor but partly cost - mechanical buttons and knobs are seen as redundant if you've already got a touchscreen.

          It's absolute nonsense, as someone else pointed out. Failure to to a proper use case analysis probably.

      • My apologies for the double post... but I would hope that by the 24th century we are properly using hydrophobic / oleophobic / self cleaning substrates for touchscreens. Titanium dioxide and micro texturing have all but solved that problem here in the 21st century when manufacturers choose to implement them.

      • Also, with all the shiny touchscreens using the LCARS interface on Star Trek series and movies, how come we never see any janitorial staff keeping these things clean and gleaming?

        Why would we? We never see washrooms or crew going to/from them, but I'm pretty sure they're on the ship, too.

        (By contrast, off the top of my head I can think of two scenes from Babylon 5 where they not only show characters cleaning up in a washroom, but are pivotal in setting up part of the plot, too).

        How are consoles cleaned on modern military craft? I'm sure every station must get regular wipedowns. We never see that in the movies either. And as aaronb noted, there's probably a tech reason for the consol

    • by rtb61 (674572)

      Having been on the receiving end of a permanently life changing incident, with someone paying more attention to their mobile phone than the colour traffic, I whole heartedly agree. Any distractions that have nothing to do with driving that can be restricted should be restricted. Basically a lot of these additional features should simply cease to function once the vehicle is in motion, activate with parking brake, then adjust, once parking brake off the device is off.

  • "I'm not sure I want people playing Angry Birds while they drive" They just need at add a speed dial button for your insurance company. On the bright side you can play it while you wait for the police and tow truck to arrive.
  • by aaronb1138 (2035478) on Saturday May 05, 2012 @06:22PM (#39904589)

    I'm waiting to see how many posts pile up about voice recognition being the way to go in automobiles. It is arguably a better alternative to controlling multimedia functions in a car, definitely better than anything touch screen based. Frankly I wish the legislators would wise up and ban all touch input built into cars going forward. It is a disaster. Hard buttons are the safest way to control auxiliary functions in an automobile. I am being a bit hypocritical though, as I have considered integrating a really cheap Android tablet into my car for GPS and music. I also don't see there being a chance for any kind of ban given the propensity of GPS to use touch input.

    Really, their just need to be better UI design guidelines for automotive use. Car mode on Android is alright, but still offers too much for the average mind to scan and pick from. I always thought the UI styles used in most GPS units was best, never really more than 2-4 choices at a time on the screen.

    I could see a TTS system reading feeds from twitter, facebook, rss, etcetera being useful and cool even if I would never use it. Get in the car, get on the morning commute and get your /. feed instead of AM talk radio I suppose.

    I joke about voice recognition and commands because as many here are aware, vocalization takes 80% of the average person's brain processing power. That is why so many people can't talk on the phone and drive (besides the fact that they are self-centered, spoiled a-holes).

    • With a little luck, somebody will eventually come up with a way to interface one of Sony's old control sticks to an Android phone & configure it for both Android & App control. They rocked, because once you learned how it worked, you could literally control almost everything with one hand by feel alone.

      That's the #1 Ultimate Universal Suck of touchscreens - you have to actively look at them and focus most of your attention on using them. There's a lot to be said for controls that you can grab &

  • by c0lo (1497653)
    On the "good" side... the technology increases the chances for many cars getting close enough to run a Beowulf cluster using their dashboard computers.
  • by sa1lnr (669048) on Saturday May 05, 2012 @06:40PM (#39904731)

    that the result will be similar to those in the user images for this product:

    http://www.amazon.com/Wheelmate-Laptop-Steering-Wheel-Desk/dp/B000IZGIA8 [amazon.com]

    • My hat is off to you sir.

      The 614 reviews are a nice touch.

    • by azalin (67640)
      This should already be included with every car. Instead of being bored you could get your daily MMORP quest done while you commute. Or finally eating your sandwich in style. Or chopping vegetables or getting chopped in two yourself due a collision... The possibilities are endless.
  • I guess it all depends how well you multitask. For example I'm driving right now and playing Angry Birds while typing this message. I really don

    NO CARRIER

  • Where I live (Pennsylvania, USA) using a phone for anything except a GPS while driving is illegal. If course it's impossible for a police officer to prove you were doing something else so the law is generally unenforceable, but it made some people somewhere feel good. Apparently there's still no law against being a complete idiot while driving, but that seems to be everywhere.
    • by Dcnjoe60 (682885)

      Where I live (Pennsylvania, USA) using a phone for anything except a GPS while driving is illegal. If course it's impossible for a police officer to prove you were doing something else so the law is generally unenforceable, but it made some people somewhere feel good. Apparently there's still no law against being a complete idiot while driving, but that seems to be everywhere.

      Actually, in PA, the police just need to see you holding the phone in your hand while driving. At that point, it is up to you explain why the gps requires the phone to be next to your ear.

  • brakes.sys has caused a system error please hold start to reboot.

  • I guess is was inevitable,...

    Was this submission proofread while driving? Or ever?

  • BMW Apps (Score:4, Insightful)

    by sg3000 (87992) <sg_public@NoSpam.mac.com> on Saturday May 05, 2012 @09:48PM (#39905509)
    It's a little more restricted than playing Angry Birds. BMW Apps supports a few functions:

    - Reading tweets/Facebook posts (and with a flick of the iDrive, it will read the tweet out to you)

    - Posting one of five/six canned tweets/Facebook status messages (e.g., "It's xx outside, and I'm driving my BMW!") - so you aren't trying to compose a message while you drive

    - Web radio

    - Looking at your calendar/address book

    - News RSS feeds

    So it has the capacity to be dangerously distracting, but BMW's implementation is limited enough that it's not. Of course, the driver could still be distracted if they're reading Facebook while they're driving, but if they're going to do that, they would do that anyway with their smartphone in their hand.

    • Does someone that is driving a vehicle really need to be tweeting or updating their facebook status to "I'm driving my BMW" ?

      Maybe they should be more concentrated on what they are doing and what is going on around them rather than moronic social network updates.

      • As an owner of a BMW with this function, I have to say that apart from the first two days when I owned the car, I have never used any of this functionality. Trust me, the novelty wears off really quickly.

        I do like the web radio functions though... that is pretty cool. Though truthfully if I am that desperate to read my Facebook/Twitter feeds then I'm far more likely to find a coffee shop to stop at and do it there where I can sip a cappuccino and actually compose meaningful replies.

    • Many people who see that their cars support such functions directly do this will think it must be all right do this whereas the same people might not do it if their car didn't support it directly and they had to pull out their handset.

    • by AmiMoJo (196126)

      Most sat navs prevent you using the screen while the car is moving. You can only look at the display. It seems like all they need to do is prevent you reading/writing stuff while the car is moving, maybe reading it out instead.

  • So what happens when federal and/or state lawmakers ban using cell phones for talking and texting all together while driving. Will these embeded smartphone type of displays need to be disabled by the manufacturer?

  • This is such a stupendously dangerous idea, bound to cause untold carnage, that we really need a Ralph Nader to start some class-action lawsuits so the idiots who come up with ideas like "in-car infotainment systems" can be driven to bankruptcy.

  • While the topic makes tempting discussions on distracted driving, the more interesting questions should turn to technical prerequisites:

    VNC, allowing any smartphone to use the larger dashboard display for its apps

    This solution seems to imply that all Androids and Blackberries can actually export their screen using VNC, even to displays of different resolution than their own.
    Can they, out of the box?
    Joe Avg. Upmarket BMW Buyer does not seem the most likely tinkerer to root his phone (or even delve into e.g

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