Vehicle: Car: Display
Finger-Over WhatAreYou   (+20)  [vote for, against]
Bringing software usability to hardware

Whenever I get into a new car, especially a manufacturer I'm unfamiliar with, I'm always a little confused with the array of buttons on the dash and console.

The images printed on the buttons either chime a vague peal of familiarity or (debatably worse), have no obvious meaning to me.

Software developers get around this unfamiliarity with buttons and icons by adding mouseovers - pop up text when you put your cursor over to explain what the icon does.

... and I want the same for cars. Add a light sensor and a timer to a button so it can tell if a finger is hovering and then chirp out a voice message over the speakers to explain. Experienced users will not hover but activate immediately, thus not activating the WhatAreYou function.

Cars with satellite navigation gear already have this speech facility, so I don't believe it would be hard to add a few extra sentences to the database.
-- jonthegeologist, May 29 2007

sp. peal
-- squeak, May 29 2007

ta [squeak]
-- jonthegeologist, May 29 2007

Good idea. Could be used on all manner of devices. [+]
-- theleopard, May 29 2007

plug n play woman version?.....'Whenever I get a new woman, espcially a nasty one I'm unfamiliar with, I'm always a little confused with the array of buttons on the dash and console...........
-- the dog's breakfast, May 29 2007

+ obviously great for rental cars and when stealing an unfamiliar automobile...
-- xandram, May 29 2007

"Really, the only thing I don't like about the new S-Class is that there's all these gadgets, but I can't get the tooltips off German"

marvellous idea.
-- theNakedApiarist, May 29 2007

Superb - I wonder if it would be possible to implement this at the finger end of the finger/object relationship - with a little pop-out placard stating exactly whatever it is the finger is currently hovering over.
-- zen_tom, May 29 2007

Could make car sex especially interesting.
-- Galbinus_Caeli, May 29 2007

"Air Conditioning"


"Air Conditioning"


"Air Conditioning"
"Air Conditioning"
"Air Conditioning"


-- normzone, May 30 2007

Of course, the voice used would be a vital factor. Who could we rely upon to deliver the necessary reassurance factor? Morgan Freeman? Dick Cheney? How about an irascible Christopher Hitchens or Jeremy Paxman?
-- neuro, May 30 2007

Jeremy Clarkson, shirley?

"Tacky upholstery straight out of Hammond's living room."
"Flimsy card-board overhead mirror, not fit for my face."
"God-awful neon dashboard, like Times Square... in plastic."

<hand moves over wheel>

"But wait..."

<past the wheel and behind>

"Oh yeah... The Ignition."
-- theleopard, May 30 2007

Cute, but I don't think that's the kind of "tool tip" jon had in mind.
-- Ander, Jun 01 2007

That cracked me up normzone.
-- 2 fries shy of a happy meal, Jun 01 2007

The stupid version:

"That is your finger, used for pointing at things", whatever you point at.
-- Ling, Jun 01 2007

I'm sure it's in the settings to turn off the finger-over function. Did I not say?
-- jonthegeologist, Jun 01 2007

"Steering Wheel" [repeat ad nauseum]
-- neilp, Jun 03 2007

Gilbert Gottfreid, or perhaps Bobcat Goldthwait?
-- RayfordSteele, Jun 04 2007

This is how my idea is : You have this 2 state "help switch" button: a translucent big orange button in the center of the dashboard, with a question mark... when the button is pressed, whatever other button you press, instead of the actual action, it will speak out the item name, preferably to a language set by spinning the jog dial around the help button.

When the button is in the "help" (pressed) state it will glow bright orange. This would help the user because it will directly program his sub-concious "Look here - if I am glowing bright orange, I am activated!"

When the button is not pressed, the buttons just do whatever the buttons were actually meant to do...... along with a confirmation from the voice synth, preferably in the language you chose by the jog wheel..
-- kamathln, Jun 07 2007

random, halfbakery