By on August 12, 2019

The U.S. Navy has decided to convert the touch screens installed on its destroyer fleet back to mechanical controls after the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) cited them in the fatal collision between the USS John S McCain and tanker Alnic MC in 2017. They were also referenced in the collision report released after the USS Fitzgerald collided with the ACX Crystal container ship. While the reports dealt largely with crews being improperly trained on the system’s various functions, the complexity of the graphical interface was cited as a potential issue in itself.

This encouraged Naval Sea Systems Command to conduct fleet surveys in the hope it could get a handle on how officers felt about the systems. The result? Crew members said they wanted more physical controls, echoing the cries of automotive safety advocates the world over. 

Despite most average consumers not having a real problem with more tech, numerous automotive studies have shown that typical motorists have grown less knowledgeable on the many features contained within modern-day vehicles. In fact, some brands have gone so far as to implement complementary training sessions for customers hoping to become better informed on how to use newer features. Research also points to current infotainment displays being more mentally demanding and thus less safe to use while driving.

According to USNI News, the Navy’s survey garnered a similar response.

“When we started getting the feedback from the fleet from the Comprehensive Review effort — it was SEA 21 (NAVSEA’s surface ship lifecycle management organization) that kind of took the lead on doing some fleet surveys and whatnot — it was really eye-opening. And it goes into the, in my mind, ‘just because you can doesn’t mean you should’ category. We really made the helm control system, specifically on the [DDG] 51 class, just overly complex, with the touch screens under glass and all this kind of stuff,” Program Executive Officer for Ships Rear Admiral Bill Galinis said explained during the American Society of Naval Engineers’ annual Fleet Maintenance and Modernization Symposium. “So as part of that, we actually stood up an organization within Team Ships to get after bridge commonality.”

In addition to confusing how safety backups function, the navy found touch screen interfaces produced significantly more fatigue among crewmen. Ultimately, sailors confessed to preferring mechanical controls by a wide margin and requested more commonality among ship designs. The Navy said it is already working on accomplishing that goal and will reinstall physical throttles and a traditional helm-control system over the next 18 to 24 months.

Meanwhile, the automotive industry is on the cusp of installing larger touch screens with more functions embedded for drivers to play around with. Unlike the Navy, automakers can utilize vehicular user interfaces to make money via commercial partnerships, automotive apps, and personal data acquisition — so there’s no incentive for them to walk it back.

Unfortunately, touch screens have also been proven to require much higher levels of hand-eye coordination to operate than traditional buttons and dials. Studies suggest that the mere presence of large screens encourage motorists to more frequently take their eyes off the road. While some of this can be mitigated by voice commands, those systems can also be cognitively taxing — especially when ineffective — and most divers still prefer a visual interface. Still, most of the studies producing the damning evidence have been relatively small in scope. It put pressure on major regulatory bodies, but most simply expressed concern without doing much more.

In the United States, the NHTSA has acknowledged distracted driving as a major issue but hasn’t done much to identify problems inherent with modern-day user interfaces. Meanwhile, the UK’s Highways England stated that it didn’t like touch screens in “a safety perspective” issued in 2018, yet failed to provide an alternate solution.

To be fair, there may not be one. At least not one that foregoes a massive overhaul to automotive UX, which could make the industry supremely annoyed after spending so much money developing them. Odds are good that manufacturers will fight any governmental intervention that attempts to streamline the driver interface. Consumers also might be hesitant to embrace legislation that potentially reduces the amount of content available in future vehicles. But, if they Navy’s survey is anything to go by, there’s likely a subset of safety minded drivers out there who would love to see automotive controls go back to basics.

The billion-dollar question, however, is whether or not sacrificing features (and likely new sources of revenue within the industry) is ultimately worth the probable improvements to safety.

[Image: Foxy Burrow/Shutterstock]

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65 Comments on “A Lesson for Automakers? Navy Abandons Touchscreen Controls Over Safety Concerns...”


  • avatar
    highdesertcat

    If the Touch-screen on my iPad, Garmin and Dell XPS-27T AIO are any indication of its fickleness, then I can totally relate to why the NAVY is replacing its Touchscreens with buttons and switches.

    • 0 avatar
      James Charles

      HDC,
      As in aviation I don’t think the USNs touchscreens in the bridge are the same as your car.

      I really believe it would more about the inadequate training of USN personnel was the major factor in those accidents.

      Aircraft HDIs, even in F18s are used under very extreme conditions and quite successfully. I have very involved in the use and work in the F18 cockpit. You are taught every emergency procedure and you do it instinctively. As I pointed out, poor training, not technology in this case.

      • 0 avatar
        bullnuke

        James Charles/BAFO – You have no concept of operations on the bridge of a warship – this is rather apparent from your attempt at comparison with operation of an aircraft’s systems. And, no, watching YouTube videos and reading first- or second-person accounts from magazines won’t help your argument. You should probably remain silent and sit this one out.

        • 0 avatar
          ravenuer

          bullnuke, they are voicing their opinions based upon their experience. They are entitled to do so just as you are.
          By the way, were you involved in the design/operation of the touchscreens used on warships?

          • 0 avatar
            bullnuke

            Have you operated on the bridge of a warship? Tell me your experiences as a bridge watchstander transiting a congested sealane.

          • 0 avatar
            ravenuer

            To bullnuke: Since you don’t have a “reply” button at the bottom of your post, I need to do it this way.

            To answer your question, no, I have no experience on the bridge of a warship, nor did I claim to.
            Now, I’ll repeat my question to you because you chose to answer it with another question, were you involved in the design/operation of the touchscreens used on warships?

          • 0 avatar
            bullnuke

            No, ravenuer, I was not/am not involved in such a thing. I would not even consider using touchscreens on the bridge due to the rather dynamic nature of the operations occurring there that require simple and intuitive equipment/system operation. The use of such things makes no sense in that area and, as events have proven, lend to unnecessary confusion to an area where confusion can lose a battle. Please note that the Navy is once again training in the manual use of sextants/charts/compasses for course plotting due to the inadequacies of “electronic helpers” in addition to returning the helm/lee helm to manual intuitive controls. You cannot fight a ship in the dark with touchscreens…

          • 0 avatar
            Art Vandelay

            @bullnuke, that is not at all why the Navy is training on those methods of navigation. It is because in the event of a war it is likely a near peer adversary could disrupt and or destroy systems like GPS and other electronic systems. In that event the Navy would still like for the effected ships to be in the fight. Same reason the Army teaches troops land nav with a map and compass. Modern systems are quite effective until they aren’t.

          • 0 avatar
            Art Vandelay

            BTW, yes, I have been involved in operations on the bridge of a warship as well as navigating ground combat units without GPS. I’ve lived a full life lol.

      • 0 avatar
        Wheatridger

        No specialized military experience speaking here, but I can clearly see one big difference between an airplane cockpit and the bridge of a ship. A fighter cockpit provides only a few square feet of possible control and display surfaces, while the ship affords far more room than that. Pilots thus have to put up with multipurpose glass cockpits and modular controls.

  • avatar
    retrocrank

    BRAVO!
    Touch screens in cars look too much like smartphones and electronic tablets. As a society we’ve de facto granted users of those devices virtually unlimited accomodation to their perceived need to pay attention to their screens rather than to their surroundings. No way these screens should be allowed at the controls of any motorized projectile like cars and trucks, much less large floating weapons systems. Only way this will change though is for the ATLA to get ahold of the issue.

  • avatar
    redgolf

    I remember the push button resets on the old car radios from 50-60’s, ya still looked down to see if you were pushing the right one, looking down and taking your eyes off the road is not a good thing period!

  • avatar
    volvo

    A complex issue. I prefer knobs and analog but that limits the amount of information you can provide the operator. The only thing I need a screen for is cameras and navigation.

    The USAF studied this problem back in the 80s. Their conclusion back then is that information presented on old school analog gauges was comprehended faster by the pilot than the same information in digital form. Some of that may have been what the pilots at that time were used to. However digital is the only way to present the amount of information currently needed by a pilot.

    Drivers of autos are another question. Do you need that screen for other than camera and Navi? Of course it is much less expensive to replace mechanical knobs and switches for basic functions (Radio/CD, Climate Control, etc) with a touch screen so any reversion to the old school will be resisted. Glare from outside light is another problem with touch screen systems and when present requires the operator to devote more attention to what is being displayed.

  • avatar

    As some one who used to sell (and some times service) touchscreen controls on recreational boats. There is a time and place for them but things like throttles is not it. Hell I remember telling customers not to put things like the horn on them. The quote “Just because we can Doesn’t mean we should” is a personal favorite and something I have said all too often. If something needs to be used in an emergency there shouldn’t be any question on how it works.

  • avatar
    Lokki

    I have a touchscreen interface on my new BMW 5 Series which I do not care for – at all. My previous 5 had a digital display but no touch screen, and that was fine. I could control things via a knob, the iDrive, or voice command. All the systems were integrated, and it was easy to use any of the car’s functions.

    The new car’s touchscreen gets me yelled at by my wife all the time, for screwing around with it when I should be paying attention to my driving. To be fair, the touch screen itself is distracting, but much of my distraction results from BMW’s poor integration of Apple Car Play with its own similar-but-different touch screen system. Both systems have some glitches, but the main problem comes from the fact that some functions ( all voice commands for the car, weather, gas station search, internet search) are only available through the BMW Interface, and some functions (sending a text, all voice commands for the car, phone calls etc) are only available through CarPlay. Then there are various apps which work in one interface but not the other. Then there’s the navigation system(s) which works in both systems, but differently.

    It’s just a car and not as complicated as a warship, but I spend a hell of a lot of time just trying to get the car to do what I want.

    Oh, and BMW wants to charge me $80 for Apple CarPlay next year. I don’t think that’s going to happen.

  • avatar
    R Henry

    At this time, I assume our cars will become MORE flatscreen enabled, not less.

    If we are honest with ourselves, we must acknowledge that our lives are inseparably tied to our smartphones and similar devices. As such, car buyers will demand that our new cars accommodate our obsessive smart-device needs even if it endangers our safety.

    • 0 avatar
      2manycars

      Speak for yourself. I don’t have a smartphone and have no intention of ever having one. I know others that don’t have them either. Just because you’re addicted doesn’t mean everyone else is.

      My car doesn’t have a touch screen, or any screen. I prefer it that way.

      • 0 avatar

        I would agree 2Many. I also do not have a smart phone – or any cell phone for that matter. I do not want to be that “connected”. In the same breath, I can see a singular benefit in that in emergency situations this type of device would be immensely helpful.

        There is a growing assumption by those who profit from this sort of technology that “everyone” has (name the device or service) which aligns with the point made by R Henry. It appears to be inescapable that “the tech” will become more firmly entrenched in everyone’s future whether they choose to participate or not.

        That said, using the tech for non-essential functions in a vehicle makes sense. Tying it to essential functions falls into the “just because you can does not mean you should” category for me.

      • 0 avatar
        R Henry

        I understand your perspective, but also understand you do not necessarily speak for the “average” automotive purchaser over the next decade.

  • avatar
    -Nate

    Interesting ~

    I first thought this was because of older people buying most new cars but the Navy is young un’s more often than not and they’ve been brought up on screens & computers so I’m th9nking the NAVSEA & NHTSA are prolly dead on this time .

    -Nate

  • avatar
    ToddAtlasF1

    It pains me that it took a study to figure this out.

    • 0 avatar
      JoeBrick

      They are lucky to have figured ANYTHING out from the report. This is one of only a FEW conclusions that the report reached. The report was very hesitant to fix blame on anyone. I would not call it a cover-up or a whitewash, but it sure was politely written not to offend anyone. I have read most of it.

      • 0 avatar
        jmo2

        “The report was very hesitant to fix blame on anyone.”

        In these kinds of investigations there is very very rarely one person or thing to blame. You have poor training, poor management, senior leadership asking for too much in too little time, poor UI, poor testing, poor certification, poor maintenance, etc etc etc

        • 0 avatar
          JoeBrick

          Yes, but in most cases of a fatal accident, SOMEONE usually pays the price and is dubbed the scapegoat, and gets a reduction in rank and an early retirement. In this case, there were several people who failed in their jobs. Also, the OOD did not pull the collision alarm, which might have saved some of the ten sleeping sailors who were killed. You can read the report and decide for yourself why no one went to Fort Leavenworth. I think I know.

  • avatar
    JMII

    Well there are many issues with touchscreens one of the bigger problems is the lack of feedback. With a switch or knob you can feel the change in status, with a touch pad you get… nothing. Sure some units beep or an icon might change color/status but in the back of your mind you are left wondering – did pushing that actually do anything?

    Sadly given the costs and interior space of vehicles everything will soon be a touch screen. Take the parking brake. Once it was a level or pedal physically attached to cable, now its a switch or button that activates (hopefully) a cable, with the next generation model I assume it will be moved to a touchscreen option you have to swipe to set.

    • 0 avatar
      JoeBrick

      In the case of the USS McCain, the crew on the bridge failed to complete a ‘computerized steering transfer’, while in the case of the Fitzgerald the crew on the bridge failed to set a radar set properly. The report said that mechanical interfaces would have been at least somewhat easier for the crews to deal with, even though the radar problem was caused by a lack of proper training.
      Personally, I like mechanical controls in my cars and trucks, and no push button start or stop.

      • 0 avatar
        James Charles

        Joe,
        What would of occurred if they forgot to perform a “mechanical steering transfer”?

        The issues at hand was not computer related in your comment, but procedural.

        The problem was inadequate training.

      • 0 avatar
        Jagboi

        My 1966 Jaguar has a push button start. Set the choke, put the key in, turn the ignition on, and then push the start button.

        • 0 avatar
          ToolGuy

          Jag,

          The difference is, your push button start still functions (and in the same way) 53 years later.

          • 0 avatar
            -Nate

            Well, maybe ;

            The E Type Jaguars of 1966 originally had an electric enrichment device that didn’t work very well if it worked at all…..

            They also loved to stick in gear requiring the driver to use the lead mallet to knock it into neutral, then it’d be fine until it stuck again .

            In spite of this they were and remain wonderful if quirky cars .

            Now, back on topic .

            -Nate

  • avatar
    tankinbeans

    Of the 2 touchscreen systems I’ve used, Mazda Connect and uConnect, I prefer uConnect for its boot speed though the car I had was glitchy from day 1. I prefer Mazda Connect because it’s fairly robust if sssslllllooooowwwww to boot up. Once booted up the Mazda is a breeze to use.

    Also, the knob interface with the Mazda is fairly intuitive with nice detents, or tactile indicators of where I am in the system. If I lose my place while navigating the system, eyes on the road, I can hit the hard home button and count detents either to the left or right. Then again there is the music button and the navigation button for good shortcuts.

    I think I’ve touched the screen in the Mazda maybe 3 times in the last 5 months.

  • avatar
    Mike-NB2

    I’m no fan of touchscreens as I find they take far more attention to deal with rather than traditional buttons and dials. I think it’s that way for several reasons. The first is just familiarity: if I want seat heat I barely need to glance to see where the button is since I use it frequently. If it were on the screen I’d have to navigate into the menu first. For another thing, I find that bumps in the road seem to knock my finger out of position more easily with the screen than with a button or dial. Then there’s the tactile feel of pushing a button or turning a dial. I don’t know if that’s the same as the haptic feedback you get from pushing or turning but if it isn’t then there’s that too.

    But… it’s also possible that someone who grew up with screens can adapt better. But I still think that even if you’re a skilled screen user you’re better off with buttons and dials.

    Now if you’ll excuse me I have to go yell at a cloud.

    • 0 avatar
      -Nate

      Tell those damn kids to stay OFF MY LAWN TOO ! =8-)

      Art’s right on point here, one of the very best teachers/screws/overseers I ever had was a retired Naval man .

      His ability to look at the bigger picture and things far ahead and out of view was amazing, more so that he took the time to try and teach me some of it all .

      -Nate

  • avatar
    jalop1991

    WE HAVE NO IDEA HOW TO SELL CARS BUT APPLE SELLS THE HECK OUT OF GLASS SCREEN PHONES SO THAT’S WHAT WE’LL SELL!!!!!

  • avatar
    Art Vandelay

    Yes, lets place the blame on something that allows select contractors to rake in billions vs holding the Officers in charge accountable.

    Incidentally, I bet if they had asked those Officers which they preferred prior to the first Arleigh Burke’s keel being laid they would have said the same thing. Then again, I’d be leery of any answer given to me by a line or staff Officer so i suppose the point is moot.

    -A Retired Warrant Officer

    • 0 avatar
      Art Vandelay

      BTW, unless you are in the freaking Battle of Guadalcanal or something there is zero things that would be happening fast enough to where one looking at a screen would be responsible for running into another ship. This was poor seamanship and a bad command culture that peculated down from the top echelons of the US Pacific Fleet which was focused on all sorts of matters and training that did not include basic seamanship or discipline.

    • 0 avatar
      JoeBrick

      I happen to know that the first Arleigh Burke class destroyers had mechanical controls when they were designed. I don’t know if or when the touchscreens were substituted, or if they were, on which ships they were installed.

  • avatar

    That’s why we need autonomous mobility ASAP! And visionaries like Jim Hackett agree with me. So we can focus more on fun things like touching screens and browsing Internet and checking Facebook accounts and sending e-mails and SMS. I am all for bigger touch screens in our cars.

  • avatar
    jmo2

    Personally I think the problem in cars is minimal if the screens are large enough and designed to take advantage of the screen size. Adjusting the seat heating via UConnect is all muscle memory.

    It’s when you’re trying to do too much on a tiny screen that you get into trouble.

    • 0 avatar
      highdesertcat

      I think we have over 32 Apps on our tiny screen smart phones. But we do control a lot of stuff from that tiny screen.

      But I prefer buttons, knobs and switches in cars.

      • 0 avatar
        jmo2

        A tiny screen a foot from your face. Its size as a percentage of your field of vision is large.

        • 0 avatar
          TimK

          As we get older, trying to focus on that “tiny screen” a foot away gets harder to do. Really not the kind of situation you want in a moving vehicle.

          • 0 avatar
            highdesertcat

            Yeah, both my wife and I are beginning to experience difficulty in focusing on the tiny screen of her phone(s). May need Readers soon.

            A tiny screen in a moving vehicle would not be helpful. Her 2016 Sequoia had the NAV system with backup camera, the works.

            We never used it. Used my Garmin instead because we could take that with us.

  • avatar
    ToolGuy

    Back in my day, when you thought you heard an emergency vehicle, you would instinctively and instantly reach your hand out into a point in space which roughly corresponded to the location of the left knob (there were two) on the radio and you would immediately turn it full counterclockwise and the sound level would immediately drop to zero and you could hear where the emergency vehicle was coming from (at the same time your head was swiveling around to locate it) or you could realize that it was a false alarm (or worst case, you would find that some idiot had included an emergency vehicle siren in an advertisement to be played on the radio during drive time).

    • 0 avatar
      Art Vandelay

      A million old Sailors reading reading this responded similarly with something like “Back in my day, when you had watch, you watched”. Probably too busy doing there Suicide Awareness/Sexual Harassment/EO/Don’t drink too much/don’t rape people/whatever else the brass at PAC felt was important to be bothered with training on Seamanship and looking where the ship was steaming.

      • 0 avatar
        bullnuke

        This is certainly part of it, Art. Another is the “smart-sizing” of the crews on current vessels. The use of automation was pushed by both Big Navy and the shipyards to allow down-sizing/head-cutting of ship’s company to lower costs. Note from some of the reports that Mark I, Mod 0 eyeball lookout stations were not manned during maneuvering in congested seaways due to manpower availability. Many failures here. I worked for the KOG (the Kindly Old Gentleman, Rickover) for many years and automation was an anathema for the very reasons that caused these disasters.

        • 0 avatar
          Art Vandelay

          This is true. Automation = fewer sailors, but it also means fewer folks to mess crank and stand all of those fire watches, etc that automation doesnt really decrease.

          And yes, the last drawdown increased the likelyhood of ships getting underway with gapped billets.

          All of those are contributing factors…moreso that “SN Schmukatelli was so distracted by that fancy touchscreen…so much so that he missed the freighter in front of him”>

        • 0 avatar
          Featherston

          I assume you’ve already seen it, bullnuke, but PBS’s “Rickover: The Birth of Nuclear Power” is worth a watch.

          • 0 avatar
            highdesertcat

            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hyman_G._Rickover

            If you can get access to the Naval War College library @Annapolis, there are more reference materials readily available, including the reactor-design of the Nautilus.

          • 0 avatar
            bullnuke

            I worked under the KOG from ’69 until he was forced from the scene in ’82. He was fierce about personal accountability and responsibility. He only allowed automation of functions that were also being constantly humanly monitored as a back-up to human actions. Met him a few times over the years in various places. His demands for excellence and responsibility/accountability (as well as his age) got him removed from service by General Dynamics because being excellent and safe was costing them too much money.

          • 0 avatar
            highdesertcat

            I was still on active duty through June 1985 with the Air Force but Adm Rickover was a man much admired by both Commissioned and Non-Commissioned Officers of all services.

            His insistence for “personal accountability and responsibility” was a subject stressed and hammered in both the NCO Academy and SrNCO Academy I attended during my military service.

  • avatar
    ToolGuy

    Super-cool Navy things from an analog world:
    – Iowa class battleship
    – 16″ Mark 7 guns from that same battleship
    – Mark 1A Fire Control Computer (electro-mechanical analog) from that battleship

    Accurate aimed fire of a 2,700 lb projectile over 23 statute miles using a 660 pound powder charge through a 66.6 foot barrel. The analog computer took into account the rotation of the earth during the almost 1.5 minutes that the projectile would be in flight. Each four-story high turret required a crew of 85-110 men. Flip the ship over and the turrets will fall out.

    Different times. (Compare the timeline and ongoing development problems with the latest class of aircraft carrier.)

    • 0 avatar
      Art Vandelay

      Naval gunfire is a lost art. That “accurate” fire wasn’t so accurate the last time it was called on (Desert Storm). Just a weapon from a different era.

      I do think some of that mindset needs to come back. They could fire those things right up until the ship slipped beneath the waves, with no electrical power from the ship. When I retired I had kids get lost on a land nav course if you took away their phones and GPS. Wars aren’t always fought under a best case scenario. In fact they almost never are.

      • 0 avatar
        ToolGuy

        Art,

        If I look on a box of .22 LR it might say “dangerous for 1.5 miles” – but that doesn’t mean I’m aiming at anything in particular at that distance. This is the distinction I’m making when I say “accurate aimed fire.” (And to me, dropping a shell into a target area the size of a stadium from 23 miles away counts as relatively “accurate” – especially when I’m allowed 18 shots per minute and every shot fired back at me will fall short.)

        I don’t understand how USN/USAF procurement has gone to crap, when you look at historical cases like the Iowa above, the B-52 (designed mostly over a weekend in a hotel room in Dayton), or the SR-71 (slide rules).

        And by extension, automotive engineers have such amazing tools today, and seem to do so very little with them.

        • 0 avatar
          Art Vandelay

          The problem with the battleships is that, as cool as they are, they were obselete by the start of WWII.

          And I agree, those guns were phenomenal and had the ability to be accurate as you describe. But by 1991 the men firing them no longer had the skill because we hadn’t been in a Naval battle that required it for 50 years. Certainly with training they could get there, but the “smart” weapons stole all the thunder that war and we got even farther from those skills. I think it’s a mistake.

  • avatar
    krhodes1

    I’d go so far as to say that no car with a touchscreen for more than the basic radio controls should ever get a five star safety rating.

    • 0 avatar
      highdesertcat

      Every rental I had came with a tiny screen interface, which included sync-ing a cell phone, and a Bluetooth interface.

      Bottom line, it takes a little while to get situated and my wife wants nothing to do with it UNTIL I get it all working and get set up. Then she likes it as long as she doesn’t have to take her eyes off the road and use the touch screen.

      Touch screens in cars may be fancy and look modern, but who knows how many accidents they contributed to?

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    I would rather have the option to not have a touch screen, but I realize this is the future and with the volume of vehicles produced by a manufacturer it is less expensive to include touch screens on all vehicles than just a few–kind of like including electric windows, electric locks, and fobs on all vehicles.

  • avatar
    d4rksabre

    Touch screens are only acceptable if you have redundant, ergonomic, user friendly, mechanical inputs to control most of the functions that the touch screen has.

    The screen in my Impala has been broken for over two years now, but I haven’t bothered fixing it because a. it’s not even the touch screen that is broken, but try telling the dealer that, and b. I don’t care to have it back because, thankfully, there are enough redundant controls on the wheel that I don’t even need the screen.

    Screens are okay, but you need to duplicate their functionality with non-screen buttons, switches, knobs, etc. You can’t put everything on the screen.

  • avatar
    oldowl

    Tesla provides input to summon a digital fart. Next?

  • avatar
    mcs

    I’m beta testing Amazon Auto and it’s pretty good. Their microphone technology makes a difference. It’s the first voice system in a car that I’ve found even remotely useable. I’m using it mainly for infotainment and navigation right not. The infotainment part is amazing if you have Amazon music. Just tell it what to play (musicians, albums, songs, genres, themes whatever) and it will usually find it. All without even looking at a screen. Navigation is good and it’s integrated with Waze. I’ve just found that you have to be really location specific when requesting stores, but it will confirm the address with you. I want to integrate it with the BlueTooth obd2, but I haven’t had the time to spend on implementing it. Just waiting for someone else to do it.

    • 0 avatar
      tankinbeans

      Can you speak to how well it compares to Android Auto or Apple CarPlay? When I tried Amazon Music with Android Auto, it was less than useless. The app didn’t work well for the Android Auto interface.

      My experience with Amazon Music was that it would always default back to the same Green Day song every time I started the car back up. Again my experience is with Android Auto’s interface.

      • 0 avatar
        mcs

        Can’t compare it to android auto or apple play, Just Amazon auto. For me, it moves from whatever was on my phone to the car and vice-versa. While I haven’t tried it, I think I can actually continue listening to whatever was playing in the car when I get out or even move it to the house. It’s been really smooth for a beta. I try to find ways of breaking it.

        I did have Amazon music with just my android phone, but it never seemed to want to work. It would just stop for some reason – maybe bad cell coverage. I gave up on it until trying it again with the beta.

  • avatar
    emineid

    I wish the center stack in modern cars was literally an empty rack, like a mini version of old rack stereo systems in homes. The car would come with just the essential electronics (ignition timing, fuel injector timing, etc). All the modern electronics and screen(s) would be rack-mounted modules in the center stack that could be switched out, just like old radios. That way, you could have the interface that you preferred (touch screen, knobs, or some combination thereof). It seems a shame that we have the heavy metal (chassis, engine, transmission), that can last well over a decade, married to the electronics (GPS, radio, etc) that become anachronistic in a few short years.

  • avatar
    Art Vandelay

    If you want to really get scared about touchscreen systems on naval platforms, go dig into the Operating Systems they run. Respect the classics lol.


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