I am not sure how they are testing\measureing the driver distraction levels, one of the common application that is already availble in many cars today is the lane departure mechanisem, but certainly a type of inside camera is needed to recognize/measure driver's responses, it will be fun to see that implemnted from a Sci-Fi movie to reality!
Junko, maybe designer do not know what people will prefer or like inside a car. We all have a fairly good idea of what electronic possiblities should an UI have but the aesthetics and feel are two major factors that car makers cannot ignore.
Even now, looking at the car maket there is no standarization. Every car maker try to build a car which is as far away from standard as possible.
But at the same time, this whole argument reminds me of a TV vs PC debate I used to cover back in early 90's. CE industry at that time insisted that TV sets need to last for more than 7 years;TVs can't be designed like PCs; etc. TVs in those days had no standardized platform; every TV was using its own home-grown chips and software (well, not much software).
Fast forward to 2013. I see, although at a different scale, that the same argument is being repeated for the auto industry.
Sure, the safety standard is critical, and carnakers can't and shouldn't compromise that. But that said, a bigger trend of a platform-based approach for cars, especially when it comes to graphics on dashboards, may soon become something the auto industry might not be able to ignore. Economy, flexibility and upgradability might trump after all.
I did tech support and photography for different areas of the used car business for several years, mainly exotics. If you watch people when they climb into a car on the lot, they grab the wheel, look out the windshield (imagine driving), then immediately their gaze drops down and to the right (here in the states), and just pours down the column. At that moment, they're making a snap judgement on the car's features.
Getting my coffee out of the cupholder is about the most I would want to do with my hands in a car apart from driving it. My current cellphone has one touch voice recognition dialling and I still frequently have to take my eyes off the road to hit the right button to do this. I won't even think about doing it on anything except an open road.
Sanjib A above is right. Voice commands are the way to go. My phone's voice recognition is good enough to recognise names most of the time, so why can't I just say "Dial Joe Bloggs" instead of having to press a button first?
Here in Australia you are allowed to press a button to answer a call, but nothing more. But it's not enforced. You see people texting on hand-held phones... aargghh!
ANYTHING that requires more hand use is going to result in more accidents. No matter how easily identifiable you make it, people are going to look. And take their eyes off the road.
I feel for the car companies, sort of, but I don't feel so much for consumers who are making these silly demands.
Touch screens in cars, meant for the driver that is, are supremely stupid. For one thing, they cause the driver to have to divert his gaze and find something that can't be felt. For another, no road is perfectly smooth. So even after you've taken your eyes off the road to find the exact location, a bump in the road will make you miss the mark.
Controls need to be able to be grasped, to some extent, to be useful. So you don't end up opening the trunk when you were trying to turn on the windshield wipers. And even worse, to require a driver to read text on a screen is dumber still.
Honestly, what I see here are really fussy and complicated schemes, all non-standard as of now, mostly to control the most non-essential features (entertainment). If they were necessary for actually driving some complicated vehicle, I'd have a lot more sympathy. Looks like now, if you rent a car, you have to give up on doing something as mundane as turning on the radio. That would take a long time studying the manual at the rental place. Who has time for that?