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BWM's new car interface might need some work!

Gosh, us software people are finally going to get to write software interfaces for autos..lets hope they read Joels book. The folks at BMW did not!

Albert D. Kallal
Monday, August 12, 2002

NPR had a piece on them too.  Dunno if they have a transcript up.

As soon as I heard how the interface worked (funky joystick and voice control), I was skeptical.  Voice recognition still isn't mature (more on that in a sec), and the controller (rotatable depressible knob-shaped joystick) provides some tactile feedback, but still requires you to look at what you're doing (most certainly the reason for the voice control).

My Saturn has the usual buttons and levers for climate control and radio, and I often find that I can tell what I'm doing by feeling the controls under my hand.  My stick shift is a very convenient hand rest as well as a guide for my finger.  (If my finger is tilted up, I'm on the radio controls; down for climate.)  A touch screen, of course, has no telltale bumps.

The main reason the voice control doesn't work is that it often mishears the speaker.  Effectively it's a keyboard where some of the keys appear to be broken.

Carmakers have been known to put a lot of stock in user interface design.  It's puzzling to me why they came up with this.

Paul Brinkley
Tuesday, August 13, 2002
Tuesday, August 13, 2002

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