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Vehicle Touch Screens Replace Knobs

January 15, 2009

Interior designers of two concept cars from Detroit say switches, buttons and keys will disappear, according to a New York Times blog by William Diem.

Touch screens used to have to be a rectangular panel inserted in something else, said David Leary, Cadillac's interior designer, who works on human-machine interface projects. Now, he said, there is a film that can be used behind the surface. The Cadillac Converj and the Chrysler 200c have touch screens in a console that flows forward and becomes the instrument panel.

The Converj approach uses some raised chevrons on the console's outer surface to help the driver's fingers find some of the most used commands. On the 200c console the driver rotates a virtual command ball to choose the desired application.

The all-electric Cadillac uses the transparency of its console-instrument panel to display elements like the state of the battery charge, and presents a visual start-up routine that reminds the driver that the Cadillac is battery powered. The Chrysler can be started with a smartphone, and back-seat passengers can use a separate screen to download music, watch movies or program a route to a relative's house and send it to the driver.

Klaus Busse, director of Chrysler's advanced interior and component design, said the Chrysler vehicle is a car for the Facebook and Twitter generations.

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