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"Soft" Controls Aren't Perfect

Discussion in 'Model S: Driving Dynamics' started by wdolson, Sep 8, 2016.

  1. wdolson

    wdolson Active Member

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    When driving the other day I needed to adjust the climate controls and had to take my eye off the road for a second to see where they were on the center screen. It got me thinking about how I was able to control most things in the cabin by braille when I had physical controls. After driving a car for a while you get know the temperature control's shape and where it is with respect to other controls around it.

    With touch screen controls, you always need to get visual feedback to change a control.

    Of course with AP on you have more flexibility to do that sort of thing, but it is a minor annoyance. And you still have to look away when on manual control too.
     
  2. ecarfan

    ecarfan Well-Known Member

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    I agree with everything you wrote. I think the key point is that, from the beginning of the Model S, Tesla has had the self-driving future in mind and also realized the advantages of having touchscreen controls in a software controlled vehicle that is being regularly OTA updated. The advantages of touchscreen controls outweighed the disadvantages. This has been discussed on TMC multiple times in the past and of course there are people on both sides of the discussion.

    That said, the discussion is academic. Tesla is never going backwards to any more physical controls (buttons, knobs, etc.) than the car currently has.
     
  3. jelloslug

    jelloslug Member

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    If it was fan speed or temperature you could have used the steering wheel controls.
     
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  4. Skotty

    Skotty 2014 Model S P85

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    Agreed. The steering wheel controls help with this drawback, and are a more important feature in a Tesla than they are in other cars.
     
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  5. ecarfan

    ecarfan Well-Known Member

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    I have my steering wheel scroll wheels configured to control fan speed and music volume. That minimizes the number of interactions I have with the center display during driving.
     
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  6. wdolson

    wdolson Active Member

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    I didn't expect they would go backwards. From an R&D point of view soft controls are many times cheaper than physical controls and my career is partially based on that. (I've done a lot of embedded software in my career and right now I'm putting a new GUI with some new capabilities interfacing with legacy hardware.)

    I had forgotten about that. I have the left one set to volume and the right to screen brightness, but I don't use the screen brightness all that much. I should change it.
     
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  7. Stiction

    Stiction Member

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    Ditto fan speed and music.
     
  8. Stiction

    Stiction Member

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    I wish one could have small sliders and buttons along the side edges of the display. I find I can use the bezel as a support for one digit and then use my index finger to press the button. This way I don't bounce around and can hit it accurately.

    Hate having to dive into menu to sunroof and suspension controls and then hit small buttons. If you're going to burn the entire screen then make the slider or buttons WAY BIGGER.

    A small thing, but hey.
     
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  9. jelloslug

    jelloslug Member

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    You can open the sunroof with the steering wheel controls also.
     
  10. Az_Rael

    Az_Rael Active Member

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    This is one of my biggest concerns about the Model 3. That Tesla is going to push even farther into the glass cockpit mode and not have any physical buttons.

    I don't know how many times I have gotten into a dicey driving situation and needed to quickly mute any music that is playing so I could fully concentrate on the road. Having at least a few physical buttons on the steering wheel is super handy for that.
     
  11. bxr140

    bxr140 Member

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    +1

    I also frequently toggle between temp and fan speed.
     
  12. aja2460

    aja2460 Old Member

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    Pressing the left steering wheel scroll mutes the sound immediately
     
  13. Az_Rael

    Az_Rael Active Member

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    Which is awesome and exactly what I want. I just hope the button-less steering wheel on the Model 3 prototype isn't predictive of the production model.
     
  14. WannabeOwner

    WannabeOwner Member

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    When my Father taught me to drive [all those years ago ...] he got me to learn to adjust all the controls by feel, without taking my eyes off the road.

    Since then lots of things have moved to a steering wheel stalk, which has helped, but SO MANY more controls have appeared that it has long since become impossible for me to adjust anything much just by feel. I'm impressed by how elegantly the controls are laid out on the screen, but they are still complex and eyes-off-road.

    IMHO all the normal "cabin control" stuff should have the option to use voice recognition / activation

    Me too. Often resulting in either the hazard lights coming on, or the passenger glove box springing open!! depending on which side of the screen I need to stabilise my supporting-digit :p
     
  15. deonb

    deonb Active Member

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    You can always add these if you want physical controls:
     
  16. scottm

    scottm Active Member

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    #16 scottm, Sep 13, 2016
    Last edited: Sep 13, 2016
    Totally agreed... when you're in a modal dialogue the whole screen can / should be used for interaction that is targeted at ease of use in a moving vehicle with as little eyes off the road as possible. This thing about having to stabilize your hand on the bezel (I do it too!) just so your button finger can zero in on its mark.. is a fail. Make every button 3x taller and 2x wider than a finger so when you hit a bump in the road you still hit the target. I don't care if the car is supposed to be autopiloting in strengthening degrees over time, the driver should always be distracted as little as possible. And roads will always be bumpy.

    Climate settings is such a dialog box, and so too the audio balance / equalizer.. These are pop overs that prevent other interaction on the screen so they may as well make the best use of their time because they own you when they're up.

    There is so so much room for improvement in Tesla UI designs in this area.

    Some things they are attempting to do well... just need a few more details and would be perfected. Take for example sunroof. With this dialog box you can drag the sunroof itself up and down the screen to set the opening amount. That is better than a small dial or button. Could you imagine the stupidity of using up/down arrows controlling a digital wheelbox for % open? Thank goodness we don't do that.

    Tesla added a "comfort setting" on the sunroof - spot that is favorable for limiting wind buffeting about 3/4 open. They indicated this by a line on slider control. And they introduced a software "detent" for the line with some increased gravity and snap to this line when you are swiping the slider near there.
    Good improvement, I think.

    This is a way to add tactile-like features to soft controls on a screen. Take it a tiny bit further for perfection and best you can do... by adding a soft click sound over the speakers when the user has fallen into the detent of the comfort zone. Now, with eyes on road, user can reach and slide the sunroof with peripheral vision into roughly the right spot and hear a click and let go, and know they're good to get a comfort setting.

    This idea could be extended to have slightly weaker detents and gravity around several set percentage openings for sunroof. Maybe 20% increments 20/40/60/80/full, or maybe use big data collection and determine where people like to have their sunroofs set and go by that... could be 15/30/60/comfort/max ? So now the user just drags the sunroof and hears a click click click and lets go and knows they have selected 60%. If you want to be ultra choosy and have 49% because only 49% will do, can still do that by slowing your swipe after hearing a couple clicks then look down to home in on your sweet 49.

    ..maybe the car starts to know (learn) your favorite hangouts for sunroof and plants detents on your slider only where you like to have it. Saved with your profile. To heck with big data or dumb factory defaults.. these are my zones!!

    p.s. you can assign "sunroof opening amount" to a thumbwheel on the steering wheel if that's a feature you use often.. (The idea of having gravity and detents and sound clicks for select positions could also be applied to thumb wheel adjustment of sunroof, not just on-screen adjustments. )

    Anyway similar ideas could be extended to many other controls on the screen. And hey, don't be afraid to use color! Everything doesn't need to be blue buttons with tiny fonts. Take an example from seat heaters and defrost, these guys caught onto the idea that "red" means heat... and are not afraid to show that.

    It's these things that I would have hoped Tesla would constantly release a few improvements every month or so with their OTA capability. But they save up "huge UI revamps" and x.0 releases that mess with a bunch of stuff in trivial ways and rearrange buttons but don't actually make much true UI usability improvements for the car. ya ya they're busy doing great new things with AP... but seriously, focus a couple people in software on this and let them be to make improvements.
     
  17. wdolson

    wdolson Active Member

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    8.0 is supposed to be the biggest UI update since the Model S was launched.

    From a project management point of view, making many minor updates is much more difficult to manage than making larger updates. Every release to customers needs to go into a management system and be under some formal code control. Just how much management is needed depends on the industry, the user base, the safety issues, etc. For a car, the release system doesn't have to be as formal and tight as it does for aviation, but it has to be fairly formal because in an accident investigation it may be necessary to review whatever version of code was running on the car at the time of the accident.

    They probably have internal builds that go on their test mules every few days and the beta test fleet probably get updates once a week or so, but those are limited releases that don't require the level of formality as an official release to the entire fleet.

    As someone who is mildly dyslexic and who has a friend who is severely dyslexic, there are handicapped problems with constantly changing the interface. Dyslexics manage the world via the shapes and positions of objects rather than read everything. In severe dyslexia, reading can be unreliable. One day that may read D-O-G as "dog", but the next day the brain may register is as "god". A symbol of a dog is much more reliable.

    When I have to upgrade to a new version of Windows, I usually have a few stressful weeks as I adjust to the differences. Even at that, I do everything I can to make the new version look as much like Windows 95 as possible. I'm currently using Win 7, but it looks very similar to Win 95. Having all the objects in the same place as I learned is a major time saver for me and reduces the energy I need to expend remembering all the differences.

    My background is Electronic Engineering and I mostly do software development. I have a pretty good, fundamental understanding of what a computer can and can't do and I know the way most programmers go about doing things. So when I'm working with an unfamiliar interface, I can usually get there through experimentation, but it takes a lot more work than when I've habituated. Apple products tend to drive me up the wall because they don't tend to do things in ways that are intuitive to me.

    My severely dyslexic friend had another friend who was a former Apple developer work on her iPhone. He updated her from a very old version to the latest and moved a bunch of icons around to "make it more efficient". She just about had a meltdown panic attack and he just couldn't get it. It's been two years and she still comments she has trouble with the new icon layout.

    I'm looking forward to the new features with 8.0 and I expect the interface to be improved, but I'm not looking forward to the adjustment period. After 3 months I'm just beginning to get habituated to the 7.x layout.
     

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