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Electronics & Test
Touchpads Put In-Car Entertainment at Your Fingertips
4/19/2012

Fixed in an armrest or steering wheel spoke, TRW's touch pad would enable drivers to communicate with the vehicle without taking their eyes off the road.   (Source: TRW Automotive)
Fixed in an armrest or steering wheel spoke, TRW's touch pad would enable drivers to communicate with the vehicle without taking their eyes off the road.
(Source: TRW Automotive)

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Beth Stackpole
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Seems simple enough to use
Beth Stackpole   4/19/2012 6:11:18 AM
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I'd trade voice commands for script commands any day. This technology seems pretty promising in that it seems, on the surface, pretty simplistic in terms of usability. The problem with voice is there is so many openings for the system to misinterpret what you're asking of it that it's almost a joke. This seems much more straight forward, especially if the commands are simple.

naperlou
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Re: Seems simple enough to use
naperlou   4/19/2012 10:20:03 AM
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Beth, I fully agree with you.  I think this is why voice recognition software for PCs has not really taken off.  I am sitting in a Starbucks (the office of choice for many, I notice) and I would not want to have to speak to enter this post.  I notice, by the way, that there are very few people with iPads (or other tablets) here.  Just about everyone has a laptop open. 

Formula 1 drivers intereact with their cars via the steering wheel.  These have become fantastically expensive (primarily becuase of the low volumes).  In fact, they stay with the driver.  A system like this one from TRW in a steering wheel could be an interesting twist on that idea. 

PLMJim
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Re: Seems simple enough to use
PLMJim   4/19/2012 11:38:03 AM
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I think the script idea is a good one, and it's been around for a long time. Back in 1983 I used a CAD system from Applicon that employed user-created symbols that you could define to do whatever commands you chose.

If you could choose what symbol you wanted to create (a Z for the radio, a C for the cruise, N for navigation, etc.), then you could customize your experience, and have hands-free customized access to everything.

That's what we did with the Applicon CAD system, and it was the most productive system in the department.

-Jim

Beth Stackpole
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Re: Seems simple enough to use
Beth Stackpole   4/19/2012 12:52:43 PM
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I think there's a lot of potential in terms of using scripts. Much like the old short hand, you could have a long list of options and cut to the chase with commands pretty quickly. I'm definitely very interested to see where this technology can take us.

Charles Murray
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Re: Seems simple enough to use
Charles Murray   4/19/2012 7:43:21 PM
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I agree with you, Beth. I think it's a better solution than voice recognition. If you have kids in the car, voice recognition would go crazy.

Beth Stackpole
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Re: Seems simple enough to use
Beth Stackpole   4/20/2012 7:04:37 AM
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My husband has always had cars that have voice recognition (he trades a car every three years for work) and it's been a constant source of entertainment for the family. He's somewhat of a techie so he'd get everyone all ready to see how accomplished his voice recognition system would be--how the car would automatically dial grandma or find a cool restaurant along the route. The things that came back during the interaction were literally hilarious and never even close to the command he was issuing. I have to say, over the last few years, even though the voice systems have gotten better, those experiences have made him lay off using the capabilities pretty much altogether. Perhaps something like Apple's Siri can change the technology's bad rap.

ChasChas
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Re: Seems simple enough to use
ChasChas   4/20/2012 9:25:47 AM
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Charles, when you trace R for radio or N for naviagation, it seems like you are only part way there - how do you change a station or enter an address with your eyes on the road? What am I missing?

terryking
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1 touch can do it all
terryking   4/20/2012 10:13:23 AM
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My Home automation system that is 15+ years old runs everything on one touch switch.

My kids learned it real fast.

S heats the shower water

W tells the current weather conditions

O turns the outdoor lights on and off

etc. etc.

Just use Morse Code....

 

SparkyWatt
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Re: Seems simple enough to use
SparkyWatt   4/20/2012 1:42:10 PM
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I agree, and the reverse interaction would have to be by "voice", since you wouldn't want the driver taking their eyes off the road.

The interaction might go something like this:

User: R

Car (confirming recognition): Radio

User: S

Car: Station

User: R

Car: 93-X

I fear that the users would have to be trained on this method of interaction before it could be installed/enabled in their car.  I think that blindly drawing the letters with your finger would be distracting, until you got good enough at it to do it without thinking.  Don't get me wrong, I don't think it would take very long.  But I think it would definitely be a hazard until the user acheived proficiency.

Rob Spiegel
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Re: Seems simple enough to use
Rob Spiegel   4/20/2012 2:00:14 PM
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I agree about script commands being superior to voice commands, Beth. By putting the script command pad on the armrest, I would guess they're trying to reduce driver distraction. Cool idea.

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