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This is often repeated but not the complete picture.

Modern, knob based, vehicle climate control systems actually bury a lot of functionality. For example Toyota's "automatic" AC you can either pick between fully automatic or a subset of manual controls. That's because they ran out of space/complexity headroom for more controls.

Touch screen climate control integrates better with voice (which you should be using while driving), offers better fine-grain control, more information (like CURRENT interior temp rather than just outside/target temp), and can offer new functionality (like profiles/pre-sets, additional automatic modes, memory climate, linked seat heat & cool/positional vents, etc).

I dislike several touch screen based climate control systems I've used. But that's because they're BAD. Car manufacturers are bad at making touch screen systems. But let's not throw the baby out with the bathwater. There's a lot of good reasons to go that direction, car manufacturers just need to work on UX a lot.




I feel like you're making some very false choices between smarts/voice compatibility and physical controls. Physical buttons and dials for users to interact with that still can be changed by the system are wholly possible. For instance, a rocker switch that sits in the middle can be used to issue on and off commands, while being separate from say, a status light that lets you know whether the device is on or off.

Which is to say, I think you're significantly limiting what you believe is possible with physical UX.


Voice controls suck and are exclusionary as fuck. Maybe they work for the subset of the population who natively speak a very standard dialect of American or British and have no speech impediments; for those people it's just an annoyance to have to pause the podcast or music.

For the rest of the population of this planet, voice controls are horrible; either the user doesn't speak the supported languages at all, or speaking the supported language doesn't come naturally and switching to it requires mental effort, or it's an infuriating experience to try to make the bloody machine correctly interpret what you're saying.

That's even ignoring the complete fucking shit show that is software trying to understand natural language and infer meaning, without just turning it into a tedious form of a command line interface.


> For the rest of the population of this planet, voice controls are horrible

Please count me out. I'm a non-native English speaker, with a strong accent, and I'd absolutely prefer voice control over having to:

1) Remove my right hand from the steering wheel, reaching forward where the controls are. There is a good reason all important controls (besides pedals) are on the steering column. 2) Either a) moving my eyes away from the road for a moment, looking for the knob; or b) trying to find the exact controls by touch and memory.

> an infuriating experience to try to make the bloody machine correctly interpret what you're saying

Machines are limited - and despite marketers wanting us to believe otherwise, I don't expect them to display comprehension natural human languages better than my cat does. Like I query search engines with keywords and special syntax, and not proper sentences, I expect to communicate with the machine in a special, non-natural language.

Restricted speech recognition with strict grammar and limited vocabulary works quite OK those days. It's the general-purpose voice recognition and "smart" assistants are things that suck hard.

Heck, maybe I'm a total weirdo, but I'd rather learn a special conlang than reach for AC controls by touch.


> Physical buttons and dials for users to interact with that still can be changed by the system are wholly possible.

Sure, but irrational. One of the largest benefits of physical controls is physical feedback, like being about to feel if you've reached the max cold/hot ceilings or the state of the switches.

To make them voice compatible you have to remove that physical association (e.g. infinite spinners, or blind switches), which means now you need to take your eyes off the road to use them, which was major perk of physical controls.

Physical controls that have no physical state are the worst of both worlds. You've lost the physical and electronic control's advantages while adding the disadvantages to both.


> Physical controls that have no physical state are the worst of both worlds.

This is so true. I absolutely hate the AC knob in my car. Apparantely, they thought it was good engineering to make it infinite.


At least you can find it without taking your eyes off the road. This works fine for fan power, where you know when to stop based on what you feel, but not so much for temperature, where you can’t immediately tell what’s right.


One of my friends has a motorized knob he uses for volume control- shr wrote a script that relays the current volume to the Arduino that controls the whole thing.

It's awesome- I love that thing so much and have parts on the way to build my own.

I think the issue is more bad integration than it is a bad idea.

A VFD or 7-segment display next to a pair of buttons for up and down works quite well for temperature control, and lets you integrate it nicely with digital controls.

The issue here is not that it's impossible to integrate the analog physical and the digital aether- it's the implementation that's oft lacking.


I think all of these things are solvable by haptics and good design.

Of course - the latter is the factor least likely to be present.


>Touch screen climate control integrates better with voice

That's a false dichotomy. Tactile controls doesn't mean you can have electronic logic behind them, that you can talk to in alternative ways (e.g. through voice).

Also, I wouldn't say the whole BS added to modern "climate control" (i.e. bloated AC) systems is much of an improvement...




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