Thought I'd throw my two penneth in as a former Automotive Interaction Designer for a large British car manufacturer in the premium and off-road/footballer market owned by an even larger Indian company. Starts with "Jag", ends with "...nd rover"
Anyhow, for those of you familiar with those brands you'll know they use touchscreens. I'm not a fan. The NHSTA guidelines (and they are guidelines, not 'rules') are the most researched standards in infotainment, and they are very strict on eye-off-the-road time.
Touch-screens, IMO, require constant visual feedback. Especially the kind on display here. When you're driving that's not something you can easily and safely commit to.
So, that's the safety aspect covered - now lets look at it from another angle. The video shows the system in use in a very manicured environment away from the variables we encounter in cars and whilst on the road. So, the differences are:
- The user is stood directly in front of the unit
- The unit is completely static
- The user is ONLY using the unit
Standing directly in front of the unit changes the usability dramatically. In infotainment HMI design there's easy and hard to reach zones. If you're sat to the left of the unit (if you drive on the right as most do) the top right corner of the UI is a sort of dead zone.
The unit being completely static makes precision much easier. I'd be interested to see this used on a rig which shakes it round as much as it would be in a car.
The unit is being used by somebody who isn't driving in the video, meaning the ignorance of familiar paradigms has less of a discomforting effect to the user than it would to one who was trying to drive at the same time. Driving requires a lot of attention and should be your priority, not fiddling with your iPad to change the volume to 12 because you're on 11 and odd numbers freak you out (it's amazing how common that is). Using the temperature example lets compare a click wheel with tactile feedback (as seen in an audi) with this system. Your car is cold and you want to set your climate control to 25 degrees.
Tactile click-wheel: You can see on the display that your CC is set to 18 degrees and you want 25. You already know that a click on the wheel is half a degree, so you need 14 clicks. You put your eves on the road, go a few clicks up, check what you've set it to and adjust as required.
This system: You activate temperature modification and swipe up. You have no idea how far up because the distance of swipe isn't relative to the screen any more. Looking over at the screen should reveal the volume but as your eyes were on the road before the screen has now gone blank.
So, safety and environment covered, let's look at the user.
Car users are not tablet users. They're older (average), have a higher chance of being "technophobes" and are also more keen on getting the job done easily compared to a tablet which is often a leisure device. By introducing a system like this we do away with almost all automotive paradigms that have been established over the last 50 years, and your average user won't like that. We also introduce something that is, IMO, gratuitously modern - installing fear in many.
Maybe one day automotive UIs will be like this. I'd also like to point out how keen I am on the system from a visual angle, but I think this has been designed with mobile paradigms, environments and users in mind and isn't fit for purpose. If this was a home automation system it would blow all others out of the water, but not in a car.
I'd love to work with this guy and find ways to make it work as a user experience overall.