Garmin multi-sensor controller concept replaces touchscreen interface with in-console dial rig


another modal interface -- no!

What their "multi-function" control does depends on what mode it's in.

You're looking at a new car. The salesreptile tells you "The whizbang3000 uses the latest in multifunction haptic interface technology! We've re-purposed the two foot pedals to make them so much more versatile! Depending on the active function, the right pedal is the accelerator, controls sound system volume, temperature of the advanced climate control system, or seat position! And the left pedal operates door locks, the trunk lock, windshield washers, or the brake!"

Would you want to drive such a vehicle? Is this an advance in technology?

These multi-function controls mean you have to look at the display as you reach for the knob, to see what mode the thing is in, place it in the mode you want, then select the function you want. How is this easier to use than a dedicated control?

This works for some things, not for others.

The microphone on my ham radio has a bunch of buttons that are multi-function, with button functions depending on what was pressed previously.

EXCEPT for the push-to-talk button. No funky modes. The most common functions get dedicated buttons. Same for the volume knob -- primary function all the time, no modes.

Computer user interface design in the 1980's identified modes (particularly hidden modes) as a major impediment to operability -- the function of a key depends on what mode the program is in. This opportunity for confusion was particularly piquant in keyboard-based text editors where being in the wrong mode yielded unpredictable and unwanted results.

Simply put, multiple modes on a control confuse people. And this is bad when the operator is trying to do something in a hurry. Murphy says the control will ALWAYS be in the WRONG mode.

(Take the BMW i-drive monstrosity as a case in point. Difficult to use after a steep learning curve.)

So go ahead and overload secondary functions on multi-mode controls, but give major functions their own separate, distinct controls. Everybody will be happier.

Nuvi 2460, 680, DATUM Tymserve 2100, Trimble Thunderbolt, Ham radio, Macintosh, Linux, Windows


Well stated, and I happen to agree. The thing looks like a Game Boy console.

How is this not distracted driving? Someone remind me, please.

nüvi 3790T | nüvi 775T | Those who make peaceful revolution impossible, will make violent revolution inevitable ~ JFK


Reminds me of the same exact device in BMWs that is used to control the in-dash radio/Nav/climate control/phone/etc.... You really do have to look at the screen in order to know just what mode the control will be working in.


Hope they don't intend to abandon the portable market. I transfer my 3760 between several cars, and use it in rental cars for trips.

Yikes - but it's built in -

Yikes - but it's built in - I would think the portables wouldn't change.