Vellum Venom Vignette: Less Is More With In Car Entertainment

Sajeev Mehta
by Sajeev Mehta

I’ve been accused of Automotive Hipsterism for bragging about my bare bones Ford truck instead of aspiring to expensive vehicles. It used to be different, back when top-drawer dashboards were more Malevich and less Pollock in design. Because good design embraces Less is More, while poor design over thinks the solution.

While automakers don’t always receive public drubbings, In Car Entertainment (ICE) scope creep is an ergonomic nightmare. I reckon rising purchasing prices encourage a blank check for ICE overreach. People gladly buy the stuff, the technology is readily available, so why not include everything but the kitchen sink?

Because the added value is an ergonomic liability: we got problems when Audi’s handwriting recognition is an ICE-reality.

The folks at Car Design Research highlight In Car Entertainment’s problem and offer a solution: via contrasting the new S63 AMG and two entry-level vehicles outside of America’s reach. Make note of the quote:

“Spend time in the cheapest cars available today, and what you realise is that much of the complexity and feature set added into expensive cars actually provides little functional or emotional benefit. It’s a five-percent ‘nice to have’ or ‘wow’ style feature, that looks impressive in the showroom but then you never use out on the road.”

The “bottom up” notion that Car Design Research suggests is fine example of Less is More. Why spend hundreds for navigation thousands for a technology package that uploads Google directions when the FREE Google Maps App does more with less?

Not to mention every other smartphone app maker that’s years ahead of automaker’s tech, but let’s dig deeper into Google Maps:

  • turn by turn navigation
  • real-time traffic re-routing
  • points of interest
  • store contact information
  • hours of operation
  • customer reviews
  • a “see inside” virtual tour, finding the most romantic table before you pick up your date

Let’s also note that Google’s app is regularly updated for free, sans dealership visit or hardware upgrade. In Car Entertainment needs a reboot, and the smartphone is the source: witness Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The dashboard is the secondary display. So what’s stopping this from becoming an ICE reality?

Privacy, durability, usability, API availability, crash testing, litigation threats or IP concerns?

You tell me, Best and Brightest: because Less is still More.

[Lead image: Shutterstock user My Life Graphic]

Sajeev Mehta
Sajeev Mehta

More by Sajeev Mehta

Join the conversation
2 of 114 comments
  • Npaladin2000 Npaladin2000 on Dec 10, 2014

    You know, if people's comments won't post reliably, they might find themselves frequenting other sites more and this site less. Just sayin.

  • Speedlaw Speedlaw on Jan 01, 2015

    Time marches on. My 2003 BMW with an "Aux In" and a $45 Kinvio bluetooth button works better than the 2008 Acura Tech Package and is way simpler than the 2012 VW system in the TDI. The intelligence and voice recognition in the phone is better than the Acura or VW systems. At this point, the smartphone will nav better than the other two systems as well.

  • Lou_BC While we discuss Chinese cars, Chinese politics, and Chinese global desires, I'm looking at TTAC and Google display advertising for Chinese tires. They have nukes aimed at us but their money and products are acceptable to consumers and business?
  • TheTireWhisperer And a thankful Memorial day to all.
  • Kwik_Shift_Pro4X Take some time today to realize that virtually zero soldiers had died defending your border.
  • Tassos As somebody who is NOT a stupid fanatic about EVs one way or the other:No manufacturer has built a "Better Tesla" EV yet. Most have tried, we wait for TOyota only (last hope for the Tesla haters)UNLESS a DIRT CHEAP Model 2 comes along (will never happen in the next 2 or 3 years), Do NOT expect that 7% to go to even 10%, let alone the ... 30% clueless Idiot Joe Biden voters expect. If anything, PLUG INS and HYBRIDS may, in the SHORT term, bring the 7% down.
  • Pig_Iron 💝