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Old 08-12-2019, 05:02 PM
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U.S. Navy replacing touchscreen controls with mechanical ones


The US Navy will replace its touchscreen controls with mechanical ones on its destroyers after a deadly 2017 crash between a destroyer and an oil tanker.


Do you expect to see an increased use of knobs and switches in all types of consumer merchandise due to this announcement?
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Old 08-12-2019, 05:20 PM
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Do you expect to see an increased use of knobs and switches in all types of consumer merchandise due to this announcement?
Why would you?
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Old 08-12-2019, 05:25 PM
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Do you expect to see an increased use of knobs and switches in all types of consumer merchandise due to this announcement?
Good god, I can only hope so!

I love that I still drive old-school vehicles with knobs and things so I can do things while driving without having to take my eyes off the road. I like tactile feedback.

Don't get me wrong - I have no problem with my phone, tablet and kindle touch-screens. The difference is that I'm not driving a one-ton vehicle that could cause severe damage to either the landscape or, Og forbid, another human being if I get distracted, screw up a control motion, accidentally text "my hovercraft is full of eels" instead if answering a phone call, or whatever.
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Old 08-12-2019, 05:33 PM
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Good god, I can only hope so!

I love that I still drive old-school vehicles with knobs and things so I can do things while driving without having to take my eyes off the road. I like tactile feedback.

Don't get me wrong - I have no problem with my phone, tablet and kindle touch-screens. The difference is that I'm not driving a one-ton vehicle that could cause severe damage to either the landscape or, Og forbid, another human being if I get distracted, screw up a control motion, accidentally text "my hovercraft is full of eels" instead if answering a phone call, or whatever.
I see the Tesla 3 requires you to go into a sub-menu on the touch screen to open the glove box. Is that peak touch screen madness?
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Old 08-12-2019, 05:41 PM
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Urk.

My car not only still requires a key to turn it on and off, but also has little knobby things to lock/unlock the doors and to make the windows go up and down you use a hand crank.

Think that makes it pretty clear where I am in regards to electronic this-and-that in the car.

Last edited by Broomstick; 08-12-2019 at 05:41 PM.
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Old 08-12-2019, 05:52 PM
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My car radio is all touch screen. I've seen other people on the internet have the same complaint that I've had about it, the touchscreen is fine, but we really need a physical volume knob. It's too hard to quickly turn down the volume when you need to. The button on the steering wheel works fine, but it's slow. The volume up/down and mute on the radio are on the touch screen so you have to actually look over at it, you can't just blindly reach over and turn it down.

Similarly, changing the speed of the AC/heat blower. You hit a physical button labeled 'climate' and then the touch screen radio brings up the option to adjust the fan speed.

As someone who's basically deaf when there's any type of background noise, I'm always adjusting the radio and volume speed. If someone in the passenger seat is talking to me, I'm not going to hear anything they say until I get rid of the other noises in the car.
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Old 08-12-2019, 05:57 PM
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I don't think a GQ answer is possible.

This seems like an anomaly, a knee-jerk response from a highly conservative organization. A well designed touchscreen can be far more user-friendly than mechanical controls. Most industries are switching to touchscreens. SpaceX uses it in their crew capsule. The F35 fighter jet uses it. Airbus and Boeing are both planning to introduce it to their airliner cockpits.

Last edited by scr4; 08-12-2019 at 05:58 PM.
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Old 08-12-2019, 06:07 PM
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Yes, because two ships at sea collided, rotary dial cell phones are going to become popular.
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Old 08-12-2019, 06:20 PM
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Pretty sure my next destroyer will have knobs and switches. I don't know about you, but I am stretching it just to afford the basic destroyer.
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Old 08-12-2019, 06:32 PM
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I'm making do with an old destroyer, saving up for a Death Star. Plenty of mechanical controls there, at least on the turbolaser.
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Old 08-12-2019, 06:45 PM
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Since the OP is asking for opinions, let's move this to IMHO.

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Old 08-12-2019, 07:13 PM
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Good god, I can only hope so!
Agreed; Id pay extra for the privilege.
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Old 08-12-2019, 07:15 PM
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Good god, I can only hope so!

I love that I still drive old-school vehicles with knobs and things so I can do things while driving without having to take my eyes off the road. I like tactile feedback.

Don't get me wrong - I have no problem with my phone, tablet and kindle touch-screens. The difference is that I'm not driving a one-ton vehicle that could cause severe damage to either the landscape or, Og forbid, another human being if I get distracted, screw up a control motion, accidentally text "my hovercraft is full of eels" instead if answering a phone call, or whatever.
Amen.
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Old 08-12-2019, 07:32 PM
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The U.S. Navy is apparently planning to replace the touchscreen throttle and helm controls currently installed in its newest destroyers with mechanical ones. This is a good move, IMHO, as it seems crazy to me that these controls would ever be touchscreen in the first place, any more than you would want a touchscreen steering wheel in a car. Critical controls should never be touchscreen, IMHO. (They certainly weren't when I was in the service back in the '90s.)

For another analogy, I have an iPhone with a physical mute button. I can mute it by feel in a dark movie theater or without looking at my phone in a meeting. My new iPad does not have a mute button, though. It is a noticeably slower process to remember where the mute button is, bring up the menu, and activate the control. It certainly can't be done by feel.

You don't want a sailor trying to remember on what screen the throttle and helm controls are located in an emergency, or how to switch control from one console to another (which was a contributing factor to the McCain collision).
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Old 08-12-2019, 07:33 PM
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I don't think a GQ answer is possible.

This seems like an anomaly, a knee-jerk response from a highly conservative organization. A well designed touchscreen can be far more user-friendly than mechanical controls. Most industries are switching to touchscreens. SpaceX uses it in their crew capsule. The F35 fighter jet uses it. Airbus and Boeing are both planning to introduce it to their airliner cockpits.
The examples you named still have tactile switches for critical functions and physical control sticks. A physical control stick is a superior form of accepting analog input. The throttle and wheel are what they are replacing on the bridge - presumably you will still have to use a touchscreen if you want to change the bow thruster settings or something.

Also, a physical control stick isn't really low tech, internally there are digital encoders that measure the angle of the various axes of control, and modern ones may have servo motors that can give force feedback. Also, the input goes to a computer and the system is as much fly by wire as it would be with a touchscreen.

It's just a better interface for humans, and unlike a touchscreen, the critical throttle and helm controls are always open, ready to be used. And if the system design is good, the embedded controllers that actually connect those sticks on the bridge to the engine and rudder are real time systems that prioritize satisfying the control inputs.
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Old 08-12-2019, 07:34 PM
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The F35 fighter jet uses it. Airbus and Boeing are both planning to introduce it to their airliner cockpits.
I fly planes for a living, and goddam do I NOT want touch screens.

The jet I fly now has all the bells and whistles except touch screens, though I know people who fly planes that do have them. It's only a sample of people I know, but so far I haven't heard any pilots say they like them. What I have heard is that in turbulence they've sometimes had trouble with them and wished they had physical buttons or knobs.

In my job I also drive a lot of rental cars, so I've had a lot of exposure to cars with touch screens. I hate them all. The example of the volume knob is a good one, but to me it's really about safety. It's pretty much necessary to LOOK at a touch screen at least momentarily, which means in that moment you're not looking where the car is going. I fail to see how this is a good idea in any moving vehicle.
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Old 08-12-2019, 08:00 PM
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I fly planes for a living, and goddam do I NOT want touch screens.

The jet I fly now has all the bells and whistles except touch screens, though I know people who fly planes that do have them. It's only a sample of people I know, but so far I haven't heard any pilots say they like them. What I have heard is that in turbulence they've sometimes had trouble with them and wished they had physical buttons or knobs.
Surely things like the navigation and the climate controls and other less time critical systems are compressed into MFD or touch screens, right?
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Old 08-12-2019, 08:41 PM
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I like things laid out ergonomically in my car. I value the ability to adjust the radio or climate controls without looking away from the road. I have no use for touch screens in automotive applications.

In an airplane it's actually a different story. An Ipad greatly enhances GPS use over stand-alone units because it allows for many more "buttons". Each menu allows a screen-full of buttons dedicated to that screen. It greatly reduces the learning curve and time spent making changes.
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Old 08-12-2019, 09:28 PM
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Surely things like the navigation and the climate controls and other less time critical systems are compressed into MFD or touch screens, right?
There are no integrated touch screens in my jet. The closest thing is a mouse-pad like pointer, and you know what? It's a pain in the ass. Other planes I've flown use knobs and / or buttons and I think they're better. The MFD has nested menus that we access through that pointer. But irrespective of the pointing device, the menus themselves aren't great because they're "compressed", as you say. There are occasionally moments when I rue the time it takes to get to the page I want. That's a slightly different issue, but it's a problem common to cars too: frequently, it takes multiple steps to display what you want (and it can be very non-intuitive in a rental car with which I'm unfamiliar). I miss control displays that actually show you things without having to take actions first.

And there are definitely times fast action is required on the Flight Management System (FMS), so I sure as hell want actual buttons there, not a touch screen.

Also, not all touch screens are created equally. An iPad is a whole other animal than screens that are integrated into a vehicle, plane / car / boat / whatever. But even if those interfaces were improved, you still have to LOOK to operate them. The great thing about physical controls is they can be manipulated with your eyes elsewhere. Using an iPad to display charts is not that much different than using paper maps - you'd still be heads-down while using them, so I'm fine with those. But keep the touch screens away from my airplane controls.

That article referenced the ship's engine controls being on some kind of a touch screen. That just sounds crazy to me. Physical controls make for better ergonomics in some cases. Me? I think in most cases.

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Old 08-12-2019, 09:28 PM
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Airbus and Boeing are both planning to introduce it to their airliner cockpits.
Boeing is going to introduce touchscreens? Well, that's certainly an endorsement. Maybe they can get them into their 737 MAX to make their pilots forget about that nose down stuff.

I'm adding AMTRAK to my bookmarks menu.
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Old 08-13-2019, 06:03 AM
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Originally Posted by Llama Llogophile View Post
I fly planes for a living, and goddam do I NOT want touch screens.

The jet I fly now has all the bells and whistles except touch screens, though I know people who fly planes that do have them. It's only a sample of people I know, but so far I haven't heard any pilots say they like them. What I have heard is that in turbulence they've sometimes had trouble with them and wished they had physical buttons or knobs.

In my job I also drive a lot of rental cars, so I've had a lot of exposure to cars with touch screens. I hate them all. The example of the volume knob is a good one, but to me it's really about safety. It's pretty much necessary to LOOK at a touch screen at least momentarily, which means in that moment you're not looking where the car is going. I fail to see how this is a good idea in any moving vehicle.
I've spent some portion of my life implementing touch screens for aircraft (usually single pilot). I've also sat in on more than a few PVI meetings that included pilots as we worked out flows. You can relax, at least a little (assuming the commercial folks use similar designs). The touchscreens on iBaubles and cars were designed by the art department. In the real world where actual utility is the goal, they're much more usable and don't look like a child's coloring book. This will shock some people, but us research engineers discovered something that has evaded almost every single artsy fartsy designer in modern product development. There's this thing called the English Language. And it has letters! And you put these letters next to a control to convey an exact meaning about its purpose. No really -- it works perfectly, although some abbreviation is necessary due to real estate.

Unless Boeing decides to do something phenomenally stupid like contract their UI work to cheap programmers in Mumbai, the new touchscreens should be quite good.

Last edited by pullin; 08-13-2019 at 06:04 AM.
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Old 08-13-2019, 06:09 AM
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I got JoseB to take me around on his Tesla and that was the one thing I didn't like: too much of the controls is on a screen which is too large and too low to see it comfortably without taking your eyes off the road. Pretty neat otherwise; bit of a barge by European standards but that was to be expected.
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Old 08-13-2019, 07:19 AM
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I've spent some portion of my life implementing touch screens for aircraft (usually single pilot). I've also sat in on more than a few PVI meetings that included pilots as we worked out flows.
Well then you're just the guy I want to talk to!

I guess my question is: Why?

I don't really see the advantage of touch screens at all in a moving vehicle. I'd guess the idea is to squeeze more information into a smaller presentation area, and possibly increase the flexibility of the pilot interface. But even if you succeed at that, I can't get away from the drawback of having to look at it rather than do some things by feel. And as I understand it, tactile feedback is big deal ergonomically.

There are also seems to be the inescapable increase in complexity that comes with any automated system (I think there's an industry term for that?). So when you create flexibility by having a touch screen interface that can display multiple, multiple, multiple things to the pilot, you also create a more complex system for accessing those features. Even on an iPad that seems to be true, and you're not trying to control a 500 mph vehicle with it (one hopes).

I'm not opposed to technological innovation, as a pilot or a person. I like a lot of the advances I've seen already in my career, particularly the various GPS-based tools we now have. I believe you when you say you're doing things more intelligently than the marketing people you say are designing car interfaces. So I'm willing to be convinced - please tell me, what problem is actually being solved by putting touch screens into the next aircraft I might fly?
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Old 08-13-2019, 09:03 AM
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Having the option to change the screen to reflect what information is most important to you can be beneficial. The F-16 and 18 have MFDs that work quite well, but even they have all the critical (read things to keep the airplane in the air) set up for HOTAS (Hands On Throttle and Stick). Any vehicle that requires input from the human in the seat should be set up the same way, with physical controls that are ergonomic and intuitive. Another example is the computer mouse. Most people can at worst tolerate a trackball or mouse; but loathe touch-pads.

The question I would have is why two sister ships would have different control layouts. That's a really bad design choice.
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Old 08-13-2019, 10:22 AM
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U.S. Navy replacing touchscreen controls with mechanical ones


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The question I would have is why two sister ships would have different control layouts. That's a really bad design choice.

Differently-timed upgrades once in service and/or mid-contract change orders during fitting, resulting in the same nominal “class” having notably different systems, has been an aggravating issue in naval acquisition for a couple of lifetimes from what I read. Sometimes it’s minor and easily adaptable, sometimes it’s an operational headache. But they keep doing it because otherwise obsoloscence sets in.

It being such a schlep to approve and launch a new class of ANY platform (the US has been building versions of the Burke class destroyers since around 1988, and expects to keep procuring them another decade), there’s even more incentive to bolt on the new gear onto whichever unit you can get in the yard next.

Last edited by JRDelirious; 08-13-2019 at 10:25 AM.
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Old 08-13-2019, 10:22 AM
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...The question I would have is why two sister ships would have different control layouts. That's a really bad design choice.
The short version is that no two ships (or submarines) in the U.S. Navy are exactly alike. This is not usually much of an issue, because a sailor is assigned to a given ship for several years at a time. It's not like a pilot who might fly one aircraft one day, and another aircraft the next day, and for whom consistency between aircraft is important.

Any sailor that is transferred to a new ship is required to learn and qualify on the new ship. Also note that while a sailor might be transferred from one Arleigh Burke-class destroyer to another, they are just as likely to be transferred to or from a cruiser, frigate, oil tanker, or amphibious assault ship.

The reason that ships in a given class differ is because the U.S. Navy continually makes design changes to newer ships and makes upgrades to older ships during overhauls. The USS John S. McCain (DDG-56) was ordered back in 1988, and commissioned in 1994. It was the sixth ship of the Arleigh Burke-class of guided missile destroyers, 67 of which have now been built out of 82 currently planned. With a class of destroyers that extends over multiple decades, you would expect newer ships to received upgraded electronics and computers, and for older ships to be upgraded over time. For operational and cost-control reasons, it is not feasible for all ships to be upgraded at the same time. So it's no surprise that two ships of the same class might have different control layouts, depending on where they are in the overhaul/upgrade cycle.
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Old 08-13-2019, 10:24 AM
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Well then you're just the guy I want to talk to!

I guess my question is: Why?

I don't really see the advantage of touch screens at all in a moving vehicle. I'd guess the idea is to squeeze more information into a smaller presentation area, and possibly increase the flexibility of the pilot interface. But even if you succeed at that, I can't get away from the drawback of having to look at it rather than do some things by feel. And as I understand it, tactile feedback is big deal ergonomically.
I can explain at least one of the "whys". Where I work, one of the products is switches, both the reliable clicky kind and capacitive touch. These assemblies end up being custom designs for each line of cars and there end up being reliability problems, especially with the touch style, simply because the design is custom and low volume.

Touch screens are made in immense quantities and you can differentiate between vehicles just by changing the GUI style and graphics. It allows for design reuse and because the screens are made in such huge volumes they end up being more reliable and cheaper.

But these are for things like adjusting preferences, pairing Bluetooth, adjusting exact HVAC settings - things you do not need to do in a moving vehicle.

Similarly, older airliners have thousands of tiny mechanical switches. Presumably most switches are not essential in the short term and many are rarely ever touched. So putting them in menus is an obvious improvement and it saves the aircraft manufacturer having to make these custom switch panels for each jet. Those have to be hand wired, volume is too small for automation. And the error and failure rate is going to be higher, especially in a system where there is more than one touch screen able to access the same jet system.

As for touch va mfd with side switches- touch advantage is you can make the screen itself bigger and can support more GUI styles.

Last edited by SamuelA; 08-13-2019 at 10:26 AM.
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Old 08-13-2019, 11:18 AM
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i installed a new stereo head in my car a few months ago. I chose one that was NOT completely touchscreen. (It has a vertical space to one side with a volume knob and a multi-function button.) I could have bought one that was 100% touchscreen...and I (figuratively) get down on my knees and give thanks that I didn't get the full touchscreen every time I use it. I'm forever scrolling too far, choosing the wrong song, or doing something else that I didn't want to do because I'm reaching over with my arm extended and no place to rest my arm or wrist. I wish that there were MORE knobs (like a scroll knob) on the thing.

I feel exactly the same way about touchscreen tablets and mice. I carry my Surface 3 all the time and I always have a BT mouse with it. Touchscreens are fine...when you absolutely can't use anything else.
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Old 08-13-2019, 11:31 AM
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Screens are great for displaying information but not that great for complicated/precise functions. I would definitely prefer mechanical/tactile controls.
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Old 08-13-2019, 12:56 PM
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The US Navy will replace its touchscreen controls with mechanical ones on its destroyers after a deadly 2017 crash between a destroyer and an oil tanker.


Do you expect to see an increased use of knobs and switches in all types of consumer merchandise due to this announcement?
Putting the controls of a vehicle on a touch screen is ludicrous, bumps, waves, turbulence or whatever and the operation actually becomes hit and miss.
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Old 08-13-2019, 01:46 PM
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I guess my question is: Why?

There are also seems to be the inescapable increase in complexity that comes with any automated system (I think there's an industry term for that?). So when you create flexibility by having a touch screen interface that can display multiple, multiple, multiple things to the pilot, you also create a more complex system for accessing those features. Even on an iPad that seems to be true, and you're not trying to control a 500 mph vehicle with it (one hopes).

I'm not opposed to technological innovation, as a pilot or a person. I like a lot of the advances I've seen already in my career, particularly the various GPS-based tools we now have. I believe you when you say you're doing things more intelligently than the marketing people you say are designing car interfaces. So I'm willing to be convinced - please tell me, what problem is actually being solved by putting touch screens into the next aircraft I might fly?
A lot of system complexity can be reduced and made more intuitive if presented graphically. If you can pick destinations or standard routings by touching or dragging a spot on a screen, it makes more sense and is faster than trying to enter waypoint IDs via a clumsy keyboard (Ever used the G1000 twist-a-letter interface? Egads). If you decide to feed from "this" tank to "that" engine, selecting them by pressing their pictures on a graphic representation of the airframe & fuel system is easier. At least I think it's easier than valve selections.

We have also designed systems with multiple views, or portals, which have a flight critical priority scheme built into the logic. If the pilot elects to concentrate on buried menus, we can keep a background attitude and reference display still apparent, and near his selections. We also have developed versions that had a fixed number of portals in the screen with attitude (EFIS) display defined as highest priority and the pilot is unable to remove or cover it. If another selection is made on the EFIS portal, it jumps to the next lowest in priority, always overriding displays of lesser importance, and will rearrange the others to ensure it's as close to pilot LOS as possible. This is to lower the probability of getting heads down in a menu system and losing track of attitude and reference. Attitude info won't go away and remains "nearby" (if that makes any sense).

Lastly, if an emergency or serious malfunction occurs, the system can present the screens necessary to deal with it immediately. Engine out? Graphic fuel system is popped up on the screen, pilot queried and presented with recommended crossfeed for his approval. Things that might be a few menus deep can pop to the surface when the system thinks they're needed.
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Old 08-13-2019, 02:27 PM
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In the aircraft I am most familiar with, the crewstation is two MFDs with side buttons, and menu-driven displays. Systems that the parts are working within parameters are not displayed. Emergencies automatically reconfigure the displays to show the important functions.

The most often used controls are on the sticks. There are also the old school side console switch panels, but there are a lot fewer these days. Fire extinguishing is probably the most important of those, and it definitely isn't controlled through the MFDs. Since the pilots always wear gloves I'm not sure you could use touchscreens anyway.
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Old 08-13-2019, 02:50 PM
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A lot of system complexity can be reduced and made more intuitive if presented graphically. If you can pick destinations or standard routings by touching or dragging a spot on a screen, it makes more sense and is faster than trying to enter waypoint IDs via a clumsy keyboard (Ever used the G1000 twist-a-letter interface? Egads). If you decide to feed from "this" tank to "that" engine, selecting them by pressing their pictures on a graphic representation of the airframe & fuel system is easier. At least I think it's easier than valve selections.

We have also designed systems with multiple views, or portals, which have a flight critical priority scheme built into the logic. If the pilot elects to concentrate on buried menus, we can keep a background attitude and reference display still apparent, and near his selections. We also have developed versions that had a fixed number of portals in the screen with attitude (EFIS) display defined as highest priority and the pilot is unable to remove or cover it. If another selection is made on the EFIS portal, it jumps to the next lowest in priority, always overriding displays of lesser importance, and will rearrange the others to ensure it's as close to pilot LOS as possible. This is to lower the probability of getting heads down in a menu system and losing track of attitude and reference. Attitude info won't go away and remains "nearby" (if that makes any sense).

Lastly, if an emergency or serious malfunction occurs, the system can present the screens necessary to deal with it immediately. Engine out? Graphic fuel system is popped up on the screen, pilot queried and presented with recommended crossfeed for his approval. Things that might be a few menus deep can pop to the surface when the system thinks they're needed.
I take your points, but it also sounds a lot like what I mentioned - complexity going up as a result of efforts to bring it down. Sure, a good case can be made for the system automatically displaying certain information when an engine fails. But even there, the plane is now doing something I haven't commanded and that can add to confusion.

The example of a graphic display rather than physical valves is interesting. I've read some on ergonomics that suggests many times it's better to have a physical item to manipulate. In my current jet we do crossfeed / fuel transfer by turning one small rotary switch, and I think even that is an invitation to forget you've done it - indeed, I've seen it happen in this plane more than any other I've flown. I'd actually prefer to be moving a conspicuous valve or doing SOMETHING physical that makes the action more deliberate and memorable. Now, that can be addressed through procedures such as the Japanese "point and call system". Maybe that kind of thing is going to be more necessary in the future.

Bringing this back to the article in the OP, I think we need to proceed very carefully going forward as we design interfaces. Technology is getting fancier and fancier, while humans are generally not. More and more, I'm feeling like I work for the automation* rather than the other way around and we need to change that.


* Not so much in the plane, but I certainly feel that way when it comes to cars, phones, computers, etc.

Last edited by Llama Llogophile; 08-13-2019 at 02:52 PM.
  #34  
Old 08-13-2019, 05:32 PM
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My husband got a car radio/gps/who-knows-what-else with a touch screen and it's totally impractical for the driver! Heck, even as a passenger, I sometimes have difficulties hitting the right spot on the screen to change radio stations or zoom out on the GPS. There is a volume button along one side, but it's very low profile - I suppose if you drive it all the time, you get used to where it is.

I'm not anti-technology, but I am anti-dangerous, and IMHO, automobile touch screens are dangerous when driving.
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Old 08-13-2019, 06:19 PM
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When I first bought a car stereo that had a remote, I thought the remote would be useless to control a device that is within arms reach. But it was actually useful for scanning radio stations, especially on road trips where I wasn't familiar with the stations. Just by knowing where the scan button was on the remote I could change stations without taking my eyes off the road. I would imagine that a full touchscreen device in a car might be easier to use if there was also a physical remote for common functions like volume control.
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Old 08-13-2019, 06:45 PM
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The US Navy will replace its touchscreen controls with mechanical ones on its destroyers after a deadly 2017 crash between a destroyer and an oil tanker.


Do you expect to see an increased use of knobs and switches in all types of consumer merchandise due to this announcement?
It's a smart move, and I don't know why touchscreens and "touchpads" (membrane switches) have taken over technology.

But I don't expect to see more knobs and switches outside of the military. They aren't "cool".
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Old 08-13-2019, 06:52 PM
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It's a smart move, and I don't know why touchscreens and "touchpads" (membrane switches) have taken over technology.

But I don't expect to see more knobs and switches outside of the military. They aren't "cool".
Do you think Lockheed put touchscreens in the F-35 cockpit because it's "cool"?
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Old 08-13-2019, 07:36 PM
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U.S. Navy replacing touchscreen controls with mechanical ones


Whenever I see this thread title, I think "Etch-a-sketch"? and I figure that can't be right...
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Old 08-13-2019, 07:45 PM
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Touch screens first went into expensive cars because they were impressive high-tech, and gave you space for more options and more controls.

They're going into cheap cars now because they are cheaper, more robust, and fill up the space used by the reversing-camera screen.

For ships and airplanes..... well airplanes have been discussed above. Ships were /never/ easy to control, so it's not a fair comparison to say "it would be easier to control using the old method". The old method depended on having multiple trained people on the bridge: the Captain/Pilot/Officer didn't even touch the controls.

From the discussion of some of the accidents, it semms like they are going to try to re-design the control system so that (1) Other people can see how the controls are set, (2) You're less likely to make mistakes when untrained or sleepy.

All of those are good things. But looked at that way, getting rid of touch screens isn't the main point
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Old 08-14-2019, 12:38 AM
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There's another issue with touch screens which I hate, and which makes them dangerous:
Whenever and wherever you touch them, stuff happens. (duh!)

What I mean is that it's too damn easy to make a mistake.
A brief touch in the wrong place, and you jump to a new menu, and it is not always obvious how to get back to what you want. And sometimes, it's too late--you've already done damage; you just cancelled whatever function is currently running.

This happens on my ATM machine at the bank. Oops! I just brushed my glove across the "cancel" button when I wanted to press "other options".

When flip-phones were common, and only a few people had smartphones, I used to pick things up with my fingers. (Shocking!But evolution gave us opposable thumbs for a reason.)
But I quickly discovered that if you pick up a smartphone the same way that you grab any other object on the planet, you're likely to wrap your fingers around it. OOPS! touch the screen, while innocently handing a ringing smartphone to your boss, and see how you'v done damage, cutting off the call by accident.

I can easily understand why the military prefers , and needs, mechanical controls.
Knobs and switches are good!!!!!!!

Last edited by chappachula; 08-14-2019 at 12:40 AM.
  #41  
Old 08-14-2019, 12:53 AM
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It's a smart move, and I don't know why touchscreens and "touchpads" (membrane switches) have taken over technology.
Because you can reuse the same space for a lot of functionality more easily than with knobs and mechanical switches. Right now one of the biggest if not the biggest market for tablets isn't home use but the industrial market: warehouse and production workers can use them to scan barcodes and to access more complex functionality than an RF pistol is capable of (from stock level screens to production reporting ones to their email) without having to lug a computer around or lug the item to the computer.
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Old 08-14-2019, 02:40 AM
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Putting the controls of a vehicle on a touch screen is ludicrous, bumps, waves, turbulence or whatever and the operation actually becomes hit and miss.
You think that's bad? There are certain cycling computers & running watches that have touch screens. Given these are usually used outside you now add the fact that they don't work well when wet/raining or unless you have touchscreen-compatible gloves in colder weather. They're also frequently a more expensive model. Oh great, pay more for worse usability.


I absolutely loathe the thought of getting rid of my car; it's old enough that it still has buttons for everything. I can change the radio stations &/or climate control w/o taking my eyes off of the road. Because a touchscreen is flat, one must look at it to press any 'button' as there's no physical delineation between any of the 'buttons'. I know they're cheaper to install & in fashion but what a bad, bad, bad decision to have them in a car. Especially a car you're not familiar with like a rental as there's no industry standard for how to get to a given option.
My GF's car has a touchscreen & she's configured it to default to seatwarmers on high when she gets in. The only way to turn them off is about three screens deep; there have been times where I was out in her car w/o her, which means I need to do that while I'm driving as it's uncomfortable having a cooking tuccus. It's something I want to do as soon as I realize it, not wait for the next traffic light or opportunity to pull over & safely navigate that while not also navigating a lane.
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Old 08-14-2019, 08:49 AM
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Putting the controls of a vehicle on a touch screen is ludicrous, bumps, waves, turbulence or whatever and the operation actually becomes hit and miss.
If the environment is that rough, isn't it equally easy to hit the wrong switch or turn a dial a bit too far than you intended?
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Old 08-14-2019, 10:11 AM
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I see the Tesla 3 requires you to go into a sub-menu on the touch screen to open the glove box. Is that peak touch screen madness?
I have a tesla model 3, and personally this is a complete non-issue, as the 4 times a year i need to open the glovebox i can spend the extra second in the menu. Touchscreen controls on rarely used items or items that don't require simultaneous attention on the road are IMHO, an ideal use of them.

On the other hand, I was particularly annoyed with having wiper speed controls on the touchscreen, as this i felt was a safety hazard (the automatic wipers using the camera were garbage for Florida thunderstorms). However, a few software updates later and the automatic wipers are vastly better - I just leave them on automatic all the time now - i never have to use the touchscreen any more.

Everything I *need* to operate while driving is manual control/activation- volume, skip track, cruise control, voice command, window controls.

Voice command works great for calling a phone contact, navigating to an address, or picking music station/genre/song, I feel much better/safer than if these controls somehow only had a manual keypad or button associated with them.

A/C controls? I just set a temperature, put climate control on auto, and forget about it. If i really felt like tweaking it a degree or two it can wait until a stoplight.

I have a gate on my housing development that I used to have to fiddle around for a fob with a manual button to open every day(not safe!). Now I just have the GPS location for the gate programmed into my car, and it does it automatically.
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Old 08-14-2019, 02:46 PM
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Voice command works great for calling a phone contact, navigating to an address, or picking music station/genre/song, I feel much better/safer than if these controls somehow only had a manual keypad or button associated with them.
How well do they work when there is a second person in the car whose voice is very similar to yours and who. Doesn't. Shut. The. Hell. Up?
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Last edited by Nava; 08-14-2019 at 02:47 PM.
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Old 08-14-2019, 04:48 PM
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Voice command works great for calling a phone contact, navigating to an address, or picking music station/genre/song, I feel much better/safer than if these controls somehow only had a manual keypad or button associated with them.
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  #47  
Old 08-14-2019, 04:55 PM
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I would imagine that a full touchscreen device in a car might be easier to use if there was also a physical remote for common functions like volume control.
I just realized I described the BMW iDrive system. Are they still making those, or have they moved on to voice control? Seems that they had almost two decades to get that system right.
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Old 08-14-2019, 05:03 PM
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I have a tesla model 3, and personally this is a complete non-issue, as the 4 times a year i need to open the glovebox i can spend the extra second in the menu. .
Why, why why is opening the glovebox tied to extra computer code that runs wires to a electro mechanical switch just to open the glove box? When a simple mechanical latch will do. Can you think of a single situation where that is a good idea?
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Old 08-14-2019, 06:48 PM
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Why, why why is opening the glovebox tied to extra computer code that runs wires to a electro mechanical switch just to open the glove box? When a simple mechanical latch will do. Can you think of a single situation where that is a good idea?
Security. This way, the glove box is locked automatically when the car is off & can't be opened even if someone smashes the window to break in. No need to use a physical key to lock/unlock it.

You could achieve the same by having an electro-mechanical lock and a physical latch, and having the car unlock it whenever the car is turned on. But that would be more complex & expensive than just an electro-mechanical latch.
  #50  
Old 08-14-2019, 07:11 PM
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Security. This way, the glove box is locked automatically when the car is off & can't be opened even if someone smashes the window to break in. No need to use a physical key to lock/unlock it.

You could achieve the same by having an electro-mechanical lock and a physical latch, and having the car unlock it whenever the car is turned on. But that would be more complex & expensive than just an electro-mechanical latch.
Also, in valet mode, the glovebox stays locked. Probably also simplifies the design of the actual glovebox. And the plan is for when cars are fully autonomous and can be used as taxis (likely not going to happen for the Model 3 but maybe), the owner can keep stuff in the glovebox and trunk that can't be accessed by riders.

Sure, crowbars are a thing, but cloud uploaded video surveillance is also a thing.

Last edited by SamuelA; 08-14-2019 at 07:13 PM.
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