BMW: "... direct the infotainment system like a symphony"

According to Popular Science Mag, BMW is unveiling a new system to control the infotainment system.

“With various midair swipes, drivers can adjust volume, answer phone calls, or activate navigation”.

Also, “to boost interior atmospherics, BMW … hundreds of LEDs in the moon roof”

How silly can car manufacturers get? This is a new low.

Yep, I’ve always said…especially about vehicles…
’‘TECHNOLOGY…just because you COULD, does not mean that you SHOULD.’’

All this crap in these cars these days is soon…VERY soon…going be a whole new legal issue for which there is no precedent.
’’ but officer’’ ;
…’’.the CAR did it.’’
’’ it came with the car , I’m supposed to do it.’'
and more .

When my mom bought herself a BMW I muttered about the i-Drive, which despite being much better than the first generation, I still think is one of the dumbest control schemes for a car ever because you have to stare at a screen while spinning a little wheel that’s very sensitive, so you can easily go past whatever you were trying to hit.

The salesman got very snooty and proceeded to disparage my Acura TL which I had driven her to the dealership in. “At least it’s not a touchscreen like that Honda you drive, that’s just not safe.”

Yeah, well, first I’m not a pretentious snooty ass, so driving a Honda isn’t a mark of shame for me, and second I can hit what I need on my touch screen just by looking at it with my peripheral vision, and it takes me less than half a second to do it, unlike the stupid iPod wheel click thing BMW thinks is so wonderful. And if I’m actually driving, I can hit a physical button instead… Or use voice commands. (I consider it a high annoyance that the TL generation subsequent to mine went to a BMW-esque click wheel, and it’s one of the many reasons I wouldn’t trade mine in for one).

Now they want to go beyond iDrive and make us flail about in the car, always having to look at some screen to see if our gesticulating actually produced 1) results at all and 2) the desired results. This just seems idiotic.

To quote my late father, “Not all change is progress.”

I still think the “747 cockpit” concept, with a whole lotta dedicated switches, makes the most sense. The physical actuation lets you know what you did, just by touch. A lot of switches isn’t confusing–once you’re used to it–any more than a keyboard is confusing.

Agree, buttons and knobs are better. “Once you’re used to” the tactile feel you can adjust radio etc without taking eyes off the road. Fingers read the buttons and knobs like braille. Of course the automakers don’t want you to drive a car long enough to get used to it. They want you to rent (lease) one for 24 or 30 months and repeat the process. I personally think the touch screens are a big mistake.

I think manufacturers should be required to make a Geezer trimline. We are on vacation out west right now. We flew into Salt Lake City and rented a car. We had asked for a SUV and the vehicle reserved for us was a 2016 Huyundai Santa Fe. I couldn’t figure out how to reset the trip odometer. The sound system wasn’t real intuitive, but with a little experimenting, I did make it work while my wife was driving. Fortunately, the manual was in the glove compartment, so I took it up to our hotel room. I had just started to read the manual when the fire alarm sounded. I was going to ignore it since I didn’t smell smoke, but Mrs. Triedaq was insistent that we leave the building. When we got to the lobby, it was filled with smoke. When we got outside, I was really upset that I hadn’t brought the manual–I figured I would never find out how to reset the trip odometer if the building burned down. Fortunately, the problem was an overheated compressor motor in the kitchen, so I did learn that there are buttons on the steering wheel that takes you through different sceens on a display panel and by holding another button in on the wheel when the trip odometer screen is displayed, the appropriate trip odometer can be reset. I am not going to do any more investigation of the souns, system–the music consists of cowboy songs that sound like 4 guys sharing the same sinus.
I do like the car–we have averaged 34_mpg so far. I don’t know why the controls can’t be simplified for Geezers like me. The owner’s manual is about 1000 pages.

I agree. I rented a ford a few years ago, and it had a dash warning light displayed intermittently. No manual. Later I did an internet search and found it was something about the “hill assist”. I ignored it, had enough trouble with a slipping clutch (automatic).

One of the biggest problems with the people who invent stuff like this is that they are such fan-boys of their own inventions that they don’t seem to understand how terrible the old way was not, almost to the point of being delusional.

That should look goofy to someone in trail; watching the person in front of them flailing away while thinking there’s bees on the loose or they’re suffering some kind of medical episode.

I’ll stick to my convex and concave buttons thank you. Just like Braille, only fingertips needed to get there.

Aircraft cockpits on multiengine “heavies” are chock full of switches and knobs. Each is a different enough shape so that, once familiarized with them, if a pilot grabs the wrong knob he knows immediately… even with gloves on. This is highly intentional and deliberate. Some of the knobs take no really weird shapes, but that’s deliberate. Your brain gets programmed to recognize the shape of the knob. This is intentional, and a great safety design approach.

Cars seem to be headed in the direction of requiring intense driver attention to even turn the radio on. On some cars everything is controlled by touch screens with multilevel menus or integrated controls (like the aforementioned “I-drive” that the overwhelming majority of people feel is so terrible). This is IMHO NOT good design from a safety standpoint. It takes the driver’s attention away from the driving for in some cases extended periods, just to control things that we used to be able to control without losing focus.

If I wanted to change my vent configuration in my old cars I could do so without ever taking my eyes off the road. On my current car, I need to look at an LCD icon while scrolling through a pushbutton menu. I’ll take the old slide controls any day. Same with my radio. In my old cars, I could operate all the controls by feel. In my current car, I need to take my eyes off the road. I could list a dozen examples.

B.L.E. said it perfectly, except that I’d include delusional marketing and product planning teams too.

I like to operate the controls by feel so I can keep my eyes on the road. I think cars have lost something in this regard. My 1954 Buick had logical controls. The headlight was a pull switch to the left of the steering column. The wipers were controlled by turning a knob right under the headlight switch… Pushing a button in the center of the wiper control operated the windshield washer. The heater and defroster were operated by levers with a fan switch above the lever. Flip it to the right and the fan was on high, flip it to the left and the fan was on low. In the center position the fan was,off. Even starting the Buick made sense. The ignition switch had three positions lock, on, off, Turn the,ignition switch to on and step on the accelerator. When the engine fired, the starter automatically disengaged. The radio could be advanced to the next station by stepping on a button between the brake and clutch pedal. I could drive that Buick by feel. To me, this is,safer than having to look away from the road at a display screen

Yeah I like buttons and knobs too but I have to say the radio controls on my Acura TL are lunacy if you ask me. My Pontiac is quite straight forward and you can change stations by turning the knob. To save a station you press the button in until the beep. The radio volume goes up when there is more road noise. What’s to improve on that??? Kinda like coming up with a new idea for a steering wheel. Don’t give anyone any ideas.

I will have to say though that I had touch screens in my Rivieras so spent many years hitting the right place on the screen while driving with no problem. In fact, when my screen went blank, I went several months before finding a replacement, touching the right place on the screen without the benefit of seeing the screen. Kinda like touch typing. I was going to make up some mylar overlays but decided it was easier just to spend the $200 for a junk yard CRT.

Makes me wonder if the radio can differentiate between the driver making the conductor motions or a passenger. I can see the waving of the opposing hands trying to control the radio (think TV remote) as possibly being mistaken as a domestic dispute and could wind up with a felony conviction if Barney Fife saw it.

LOL, good visual, Bing. I’m afraid I might go to sleep thinking about that tonight.

The controls in my 1987 Olds were minimal, simple, and easy to use by feel without ever taking eyes off the road. I miss that.

I know that it is important for people my age (73+) to keep up with technological advances
My wife and I like to travel. We will either fly or go by train to a convenient location and then rent a car to travel around. I. realize that rental companies must have new vehicles in the fleet. However, I would like the controls to be more intuitive and logical. I think vehicles have. gone the opposite direction of what seems to me to be logical in the controls.

I think we can all agree that this is a step down from touch screens, which is a step down from simple manual controls.

But it appears we can do nothing about these “advances”. Sort of like low profile tires and ugly headlights, and poor rear visibility.

My latest car is a 15 Forester, just got it before the move to touch screens. Stuck with the other issues, although the tires are only slightly low profile and the visibility is fair.


Even highly successful and well known inventors or innovators can fall into the fan-boy trap. Edison famously was a direct current fan-boy, refusing to have anything to do with alternating current distribution systems used by his rival, Westinghouse, and created all sorts of delusionary “disadvantages” to his rival’s system. Also, I have heard that Henry Ford I was so in love with his flat head V-8 that the company had to wait for him to die before they could drop that design.
Pride and pig-headedness often overrules logic even in the minds of highly intelligent individuals.

But Pride and pig-headedness can account for one manufacturer, perhaps two, but not all of them. People say the touch screen interface is cheaper, and that is why all the manufacturers are switching.

But given all of the negative reviews, you would think that perhaps one or two manufacturers would listen to the reviews, and comments such as here, and stick with the older techniques, but no-go. (ignoring Lada and Volga brands)


“One of the biggest problems with the people who invent stuff like this is that they are such fan-boys of their own inventions that they don’t seem to understand how terrible the old way was not, almost to the point of being delusional.”

I just had to echo this statement. It falls under the heading…“If it’s not broke…don’t try to fix it.”