Goodbye to the digital buttons on the steering wheel: are the screens still?

Steering wheels with capacitive buttons did not achieve the sensitivity that users expected and will be removed from new models
Steering wheels with capacitive buttons did not achieve the sensitivity that users expected and will be removed from new models

Have you ever asked yourself the question about how much they help and how much they supplant driving assistance, the attention of the person behind the wheel of a modern car. This question is far from being a questioning of the ADAS systems, which have contributed superlatively to improving road safety around the world. However, when the driver begins to relax and delegate in the car vital driving tasks that have nothing to do with operating the steering wheel and pedals, but with your environment, you can run the risk of entering a gray area that is difficult to assess.

The world of the car has been alive for more than a decade, a transition stage that will probably last longer than the industry and the illusion of the people would like, among the cars that had to be driven completely for the man, and the self-employedwhere people will simply be passengers who will not have any intervention.

The physical buttons on the steering wheel, complemented by wheel-type controls are usually more practical so as not to distract the driver
The physical buttons on the steering wheel, complemented by wheel-type controls are usually more practical so as not to distract the driver

And at this stage appear technologies and devices that change history, as well as some others enter and leave without much success. New generation cars must be sustainable Y digitaland just as different forms of propulsion such as electric motors, solar motors, hydrogen motors or synthetic fuels enter into sustainability or ecology, there are also options in the digitization section. It’s not just about connectivity and displaysbut of many other applications that reach the passenger compartment of a vehicle.

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The capacitive buttons they are not new nor did they arrive in cars into people’s lives. Everyone has known them for years thanks to the cellphones. are the buttons tactilewhich do not have a downward movement so that they act by activating a certain function of a device, but rather Feeling the contact of the human finger, they perform their function. They can have vibration or notthat is programmable, although it is in this way that we try to convey part of the sensation that the human being was accustomed to with physical buttons. “The order has been received.”

In cars, touch or capacitive buttons are often seen on screens of the boards, although some brands also incorporated them into the steering wheel controls. However, it seems that in this last application they have not worked. volkswagen just confirmed that they will remove them from their models. According to Thomas Schafer, COO of the German group, has just announced that they will return to the physical buttons on the steering wheel since “That’s what Volkswagen customers want.”

Activating functions without removing your hands from the steering wheel seeks to avoid driver distractions.  If a button is not precise, it generates the opposite effect
Activating functions without removing your hands from the steering wheel seeks to avoid driver distractions. If a button is not precise, it generates the opposite effect

There is an apparent good reason why users are not happy or comfortable with the touch buttons, and it is that the car is movingand that generates that even with the vibration, technically haptic feedbackthe drivers they are not sure having activated or deactivated the desired function, and that makes them repeat the operation or, worse still, get distracted from the road to check if the order has been received.

“We are refining our portfolio and our design, as well as creating a new simplicity in the operation of our vehicles. For example We brought back the steering wheel with buttons! That’s what customers want from VW“, wrote Schafer in a post by LinkedIn.

It may interest you: They launch a curious system to improve the comfort of drivers
Full touch screens also cause problems to operate them with cars in motion
Full touch screens also cause problems to operate them with cars in motion

But the steering wheel buttons are not the only point which is starting to annoy some users. The screens that embed all the functions within themselves, also often cause sensitivity issues. In fact, many brands release updates where part of the improvement is a greater precision of touch controls. And that is actually the problem.

When a person is behind the wheel, it is much simpler to press a key, button or even turn a knob like volume, than placing a finger in the right place without any reliefwhich then must slide to generate operation desired. The screen maybe I should go back a couple of steps further backand be simply to read information, but operated from a separate keypad or physical keyboard, which can be operated without even looking away.

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