End of the analog feel-good zone

In the automotive Middle Ages, the time of the youthful blogger, the automobile magazines invented the term “war of buttons”. Navigation and air conditioning systems conquered the higher classes at that time; the number of buttons and switches on the center console increased at an inflationary rate. Admittedly, it looked good, was image-boosting, even if the intuitive usability fell by the wayside. The volume of on-board literature grew to the same extent and often became multi-volume.

Analog well-being zone. Saab Night Panel
Analog well-being zone. Saab Night Panel

Even Saab was not spared. Saab 9-5 and 9-3 II had at times an impressive collection of buttons to offer. Which somehow, and especially at night, looked like jet.

That was yesterday.

Anyone who saw the pictures of CES 2016 in Las Vegas last week knew that we were already in the middle of a new era. From the analogue Middle Ages, the war of buttons, we move into the digital age and the war of displays. What has been standard so far, the virtual cockpit of some Audis, for example, is just a lukewarm foretaste of what's to come.

Bosch showed a show car at the Consumer Electronics Show, whose display cockpit could also compete with an Airbus. Dashboard and center console are combined in a purely electronic display; It automatically adjusts to the environment of the vehicle. Only vision? Are you kidding me? Are you serious when you say that! Mitsubishi, a brand of the avant-garde absolutely unsuspicious, showed again the Emirai 3. A study whose cockpit design is to be included in the series up to 2020.

The display war is in full swing, especially in China. That market, formerly satisfied with warmed up goods from Europe, but is now setting more and more of its own trends. Display innovator Tesla, the Americans as the first supplier to put a 17 ″ display upright in the center console of a car, will soon be the title of the largest touchscreen on Weichai (ever heard?) to lose. The Chinese obstruct the facelift of his compact Yingzhi G3 SUV a display that should be at least 20 ″ in size.

And Dongfeng, strategic partner of NEVS, installed in the new Fengguang SUV a screen in the dashboard, which would have been acceptable a few years ago as a widescreen screen.

The trend towards digitization and display is racing. For the automaker, advantages predominate. In the future, customers will lack the haptic experience. Nothing you can press or touch, if necessary, without taking your eyes off the road.

Displays are universal, easy to integrate, cheaper than switches and buttons, which you have to design and produce for each model. There are endless, new possibilities. Graphics and optional complex functions are no longer limitless. Starting with assistance systems, streaming, service, advertising, communication. The car becomes the digital gaming zone. A digital update from model year 2020 to 2025? With all innovations? Future-compliant digital service.

Value added in the automotive industry is changing dramatically. Away from hardware, to software and digital services. Not for nothing NEVS has a software provider in the circle of shareholders. The number of updates, the bug fixes and the security holes will explode in the future as well.

Not only are new business areas emerging, but opportunities for attack are also increasing. We'll love it, we'll hate it. At the latest when the overnight loaded update reconfigures our car. Whining children in the back seat who have to go to school on time, the first business appointment of the day in their head. And the box installs its update in peace ...

As we stare at the display, "Do not turn off your vehicle while it is reconfigured“, We might think of past, analogue times. To a small manufacturer who brought something as cute as a night panel as an innovation. So that the driver, with the analog speedometer in front of his eyes, can concentrate on the traffic situation. Oh, the analogue Middle Ages were a harmless, naive time!

Perdu. Definitely for all time.

The view back: Bloggers back mirror
The view back: Bloggers back mirror

Not everyone will want to expose themselves to the digital trends. Not for nothing the business explodes with classics and youngtimers, not without reason the first Porsche center for classic sports cars went into operation in Gelderland near Arnhem. Until 2018 there will be 100 Porsche Classic Centers worldwide; the Swabians have recognized the train of time.

Maybe, yes maybe there is hope for all those who want to keep their analog comfort zone and who mourn the war of buttons. From 2018 we may find a digital night panel in the new EVs from Sweden. And in the price list the option for a “Cockpit Emulation 2001 Aero, analog”.

I would order her.

29 thoughts on "End of the analog feel-good zone"

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    how right you all have.
    I also regularly curse my “smart” phone when writing texts - it's a shame that there are no more sensible phones on the market like the nokia n97mini. exactly the letters whose key I had pressed appeared on the display. The oh-so-great text recognition via swype suggests words for the smartphones ... oh, let's forget the whining.
    color to the streets,
    saabs on the streets
    and knobs in the saabs

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    The only thing missing from the new display boards is a large warning sticker: “Incidentally, the blurry area around the display is called reality. It makes perfect sense to pay attention to this from time to time when shuffling through the menus - at the latest when the collision warning system informs you of this with the warning tone to be selected in menu item 561 ...
    Ok the text may have to be a bit shorter.

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      Against this background, lane departure warning systems have a completely different meaning in “modern” cars 🙂.

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    Is there actually more information about the NEVS 9-3 Infotainment?

    Do you know what it is based on and what the exact functions / options are? And who is the supplier?

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    “… A brand of the avant-garde absolutely unsuspicious…” Saved my day.

    It would have been exciting how Saab dealt with this challenge. Whether once more a separate way would have been found.

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        The strength was above all the opportunity for individualization. Saab was right on trend. Of the Video it is still available, 5 or 6 years later, the touching looks antik.

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          That's right ... 🙂
          But “back then” it was quite “innovative”!
          (but then I wouldn’t necessarily have wanted Android in my Saab / car ... but I don’t want to start a “war of faith” with such a statement)

          But I still find some areas of iQon - at least visually - still “acceptable” today….

          PS: to all these “modern” colorful light panels in cars
          A friend was the other day the first time a little longer (in the dark) with me in my 2011'er on the way.
          The interior he found very good, the space gigantic.
          But what he immediately found completely “ugly” and antiquated when driving off was the green navigation display (radio, button, etc.) and the green lighting in general.

          I just told him that it was a matter of getting used to and that I liked the green, especially since it is somehow very “unobtrusive”.

          On the way back he suddenly said that green might not be so bad after all and there could be something to it, because he was not so “blinded” and “distracted” by all the lights in the Saab and he felt it very relaxing".

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            This is not a question of a religious war. Android is principle-less bullet-proof than QNX or iOS. Google has opted for a different path. Mine would not be synonymous with a phone, but Saab would hardly have iOS for such a system, and with QNX there is hardly any software (ok, I'm not sure, after all, it is used by Blackberry, but not so long for smartphones, right?

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    So I got a 9-3 aero this week.
    From the night panel, I am very disappointed and find it like it's just nonsense.
    There was the black panel in 900II worlds better and more meaningful.
    Why is only half of the night panel?
    Why do the digit keys stay light?
    They are so dull.
    Since I can start everything right now.

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    Getting started with this article, I had to think of the Peugeot Oxia, a concept car from 1988 or 89, and for such a decidedly mobile and realistic.

    The crowning glory was an IBM-compatible PC (!) Under the center console with a 5,25 ″ drive (!!), keyboard and trackball, dead reckoning and a database with hotel information that can be contacted via the car phone (!!!) and maintained by Peugeot. and restaurants along the route.

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    It will hopefully be like then, the hype will go away and you will focus on the essentials again.

    As far as I know, the urge to control everything with displays in the aircraft industry was until the realization prevailed that the essential operating elements were better than knobs / knobs, etc.

    Until then, however, we will have to live with the evil. Just as with the delusion to make cars to self-propelled vehicles, where I always say, I can take the train, or even the plane. Either I want to be independent and decide myself when I turn right or left, with 30 or 200km / h on the way, etc.pp. or I go into the dependence on machines (with third-party control) but then please correct.

    Greetings Cetak

    PS: with the 9-3 II with Navi, the combination of Dsiplay and controls was pretty well done.

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    A broken speedometer I get repaired for a few bills. A display probably not. But there will be no way around this development, the trend is irreversible. How else do you want to accommodate the entire assistance system?
    The older motorist generation will get more and more problems there. Does the industry enchant the best and most loyal customers?

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    Quote: “For the automaker, advantages predominate. In the future, the customer will lack the haptic experience. "
    Another important sentence from Tom that makes you think ...!
    No I do not want this! A clear position from me. If my SAAB continues to hold up so well, I don't have to and won't do that to myself. Otherwise I say goodbye to the “individual traffic” by car. Deceleration is the order of the day, in a happy sense! 🙂

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    Weichai (have you heard it before?) But in another context…. 😉

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    Operating all these things, some of which are not really useful, should only be possible when the wheels are stationary. The distraction is just huge. Sometimes you ask yourself; who actually drives and steers? I like to do without these electronic bells and whistles and enjoy a nice analog dashboard (although, of course, it's not a “board” in my older vehicles either, rather a sheet of metal!)
    Nightpanel I always use in the dark winter time and behold, the car brings me without problems from A to B!

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    Well, if the touchpad fails later, the driver may immediately receive a replacement part for plug & play installation directly on the hard shoulder by drone. Fun aside: I also like large, clearly arranged buttons with haptic feedback more than touchpads. But, the touchpads also allow you to configure the settings individually. BMW offers this with 8 buttons that can be freely assigned with direct access. That's a fine thing. So let's hope for the app that will at least virtually conjure up the layout of the 9-5 on the pad. And also offers us the option of customization. Developers, get to work!

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    I think it's good that this topic is finally considered rather critical, but maybe I'm just out of time.

    An essential purchasing decision for me was the reduction to the essentials in terms of usability. My 9-3 Bj. 2008 does it very well. I personally think that the 9-3 is also better positioned than the 9-5NG.

    The current development seems to completely bypass me. I do not need a checkerboard-sized display, which show me everything possible, if I find it. Even with the navigation systems, I probably now represent a minority opinion. As long as I can still hear reasonably, I do not need a map display but only a good announcement, For me, a car is then a good car when I adjust as little as possible, tap, swipe or press. And just then comes the operating concept of the 9-3 of the last generation my ideals very close.

    About the Night Panel and its use, there are certainly shared views. I myself use it very often, because I often travel in the dark on roads with little risk of traffic accidents. I can concentrate fully on the road. Lately, that has helped me twice to avoid collisions with adult deer. My conclusion is less is more and what should I buy if my 9-3 should bless the clock?

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    Great article.

    But not only Porsche and not only in the automotive sector, you have time signs in the direction
    Retro recognized ...

    There is much more experience with digital and other operating concepts than the automotive industry in the photo industry. Highly interesting, that almost every serious user gives preference to dials and buttons and therefore direct access.

    The manufacturers and developers have been practicing for so long to develop modern forms, as they are found today in most DSLRs (such as Canon and Nikon), that form and operation back to the analog photography.

    But there is also a strong trend towards retro design and retro-service concepts. Nikon has a corresponding SLR (DSLR) on the market and Fuji makes in the field of system cameras (ie those for interchangeable lenses) only retro and now quite a few.

    As long as we are not driving autonomous automobiles, hands should be on the steering wheel and eyes on the road ...

    Photographers know what a single hand can do with their thumbs and forefingers, while still holding the camera firmly in the same hand while looking at the road / through the viewfinder.

    Instead of touchy touchy, the automakers should rather deal with the steering wheels and their operating potential. Especially the steering wheels with thumb recesses already feel like long ago, as if you held two professional SLR cameras (one for left-handers) in your hands.

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    And what will happen if such cars get older?
    Then you have a 15 year old wreck without rust with immaculate paint in the garage that does not make a muck. Ever tried to use a 10 years old PC?
    It's not just about software updates. What storage medium was common before 15 years ago?
    These are my worries for a long time!

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      In principle, (almost) everything can be repaired or adapted to new technology. The knockout criterion will be the amount of electronics and software that will make it simply priceless to keep a moving computer on the road. Therefore, it is wise to maintain the “analog” Saabs and keep them as long as possible 😉

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        That's how it looks. I once read a report where a group of people got together to re-cast parts for the Porsche 356 (does the number?). I think they were engine blocks made in the lost-mold process in a big hall. The whole thing had party character.

        But a nice effort. However nothing compared to replacing an engine control unit. If this is no longer established, and a component no longer available, such as the CPU, breaks, an emulator must be running, and that runs on a foreign CPU and then somehow has to be connected so that the entire sensor inputs can provide their information and then the control software has to be sorted out somehow and put on the emulator, etc. I do not want to say that it does not work, but poof, that should be really violent.

        Are there already some cars that became stand iron due to the fact that control units are no longer available?

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    Not every technical innovation makes sense ... and these displays definitely aren't!
    What do I do if my touchscreens refuse to work after 6 years and my car is practically unusable? What if they give up their ghost while driving ...?
    The previously mentioned distraction and the higher eye strain is also a contra argument (try 2-3 to stare hours without headache on a screen).
    Furthermore, the cars lose their individual character.
    So it is important to cherish and nurture the vehicles from the automotive Middle Ages and hope that ORIO will someday adopt Porsches concept.
    In any case, I will never have anything left for such moving computers, even if I belong to a younger generation.

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    I'm already in the selection of a new motorcycle similar. Many new models immediately fall out of the grid due to their digital display format of Km / h and RPM. As far as the use of such displays in the car is concerned, I agree with Turboseize. With horror I think back to the test drive of an Insignia. But for me this is one more reason to receive our analogue treasures. And the nightpanel button can not be beat.

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    Display fixation in current automotive design causes two serious problems.

    1.) Premature eye fatigue on long descents; Distraction from the traffic.
    We humans intuitively look towards a light source; If this is in the dashboard under our noses, we look there and no longer on the road. To take the view of the street then requires effort; you tire faster and are less concentrated.
    Finally, a light source in the cockpit, on the edge of the field of vision, contrasts with the dark outside world in front of the car, physically overwhelming the eye. What should the pupil adapt to now? (Perhaps that explains the madness of lighting and glare in current headlights; if the interior is bright, the surroundings must also be bright; it doesn't matter whether it dazzles oncoming traffic ...)

    2.) A touchscreen gives no haptic feedback; still the information presented on it is tangible. They are only to be seen. While you can intuitively find and operate a button after a bit of getting used to it, dials require the display that you look at. So you have to take your eyes off the road.

    Anyone who has ever tried to dimming the dashboard and interior lighting while driving in a current Golf (or any other KdF car), knows what I'm talking about.
    Instead of a rotary control in the speedometer or on the left, possibly also at the bottom left next to the dashboard, which can be felt if not seen, and has been in one of these places for decades across brands and models, there is now only one display. With “intuitive” user guidance. So so.
    That means: you click through at least two submenues, which one must first find; and then dimming the light with his index finger (which is not really possible, even at the lowest level it is still too bright). In practice, this leads either in a blind flight for a minute or one annoyingly controls the next resting place and gets a tantrum. (Not even the best condition for a safe onward journey.)

    Some newer vehicles are already trying to ask if their developers even drive a car. That they can travel longer distances at night can be considered as excluded.

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      Very nicely commented, I can sign from the first to the last word.

      In seafaring, the trackball and touch madness on the bridges began about 20 years ago and has driven us practitioners to white heat. It just is not practical and after a short time very vulnerable and expensive. For several years, at least for the permanently needed important functions again appear more buttons and knobs. There were working groups consisting of manufacturers, practitioners and regulatory authorities.

      SAAB used to think outside the box, into the aircraft and truck industry - professional areas. Today's car industry is too narrow-minded and arrogant for it and takes off.
      Modern cars are constantly rolling back and forth across multiple lanes and you can see that the driver is busy with his display - that's more dangerous than making a phone call.

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    Great article! I still love the buttons in 93 and 95, from day one

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    Buttons - I want buttons !!! 😉

    I am also a “big fan” of “touchscreens”, iPhone, iPad & Co. (partly due to work) and I think that these devices and operating systems really bring advantages or at least increased comfort in many areas.

    But in the car I see that (from the driver's point of view, not from the manufacturer's point of view) to a large extent different.

    When driving (especially on uneven ground) it is much easier (even almost “blindly”) to press buttons and turn cogs than trying to hit something with my fingers on a touchscreen (for me it almost starts with the selection of the radio station on the touchscreen of the 9-5 II / 9-4)! 😉

    In any case, I am always happy when I see the well-mixed combination of touchscreen and classic buttons in my 2011'er and I can still operate a lot of things “classic” with buttons and wheels! 🙂

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      It is exactly like that. I've read that there are studies in the field of aviation, that many buttons with one function are more ergonomic than fewer buttons with changing function. Seems to me immediately logical, either you have to look to recognize the current function or remember it. This is even more true for touchscreens.

      My feeling is the phenomenon of checklist mentality which is well-known in the field of data processing and digital photography. The more functions-however nonsensical they may be-a device (which can then only be controlled via menus, etc.), the more beautiful checklists can be created in the brochure.

      Does anyone need that? Nope.

      Screens instead of conventional instruments could make sense. But the art of omission is even more important. Old Saab might have done it. Let's see if the engineers can prevail; are often still the old ones.

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