Dear carmakers, we need to talk about screen time
The increasing use of screens in cars will surely affect us
We are living in a world dominated with screen. The concept of Work From Home has further increased the stress we put on our eyes with most of working on laptop nearly 12 hours a day, and then trying to de-stress by watching television or playing games on PC/Play Station/XBOX/Tablet/Phone.
Being an owner of a rather humble and basic 2007 Suzuki WagonR, the car has been the one place where I don't have to stare the screen. There are buttons for the air-con, heater and music system. All I've done in every single ride of my car is enjoy the ride.
Now though things are changing. With each passing day, carmakers are introducing more and more screens in cars. We started from touchscreen infotainment systems, and nowadays the basic stuff like air-con even has to be controlled by the touchscreen albeit via gesture controls in some cars.
While all this may sound and feel very hi-tech and 21st Century-like, this isn't good because a) it reduces the driver's concentration on the road as he/she is increasingly looking away from the road and staring instead at touchscreens and b) it will affect our eyes and health as a whole.
The Mercedes Benz MBUX Hyperscreen perfectly illustrates what I am trying to say here. The infotainment system runs all over the dashboard and all the controls can be controlled via the touchscreen. However, when one will start using it everyday then he/she will understand its consequences. When on the road, in cars like my wagon R you will just have to press a button to turn the air-con on. In the hyper screen, you will have to use a gesture control to come back to the main menu and then choose the desired temperature. This isn't just time consuming but it is even dangerous as the driver has to look away from the road while doing all this.
So not only do these in-car screen affect our eye-sight or even health as a whole, they also affect our safety. The main question is: why are carmakers opting for more and more screens and doing away with buttons and dials?
The simple answer to that question is: increasing costs. Buttons are recurring costs in a car while in touchscreen a carmaker only has to program controls once and then, that's it. However, while the screen are cheap for carmakers, the same can't be said about the customers. Maintaining and repairing them is quite expensive.
Slowly and steadily when in-car screens will become more common and start coming in the cheaper cars, the health and safety people will take notice. Due to touchscreens accidents are happening and the day isn't far when a global body like Global NCAP will enter the fray and instruct carmakers to reduce using screens.
In the end, nobody will want their small kid staring at a screen just as he starts going to school. Screen time is something carmakers should take care of.