Ergonomics done right.®
February 12th, 2014

Innovation is Not Always Effective

by Rachel D’Epagnier

With an increasing amount of technology available to consumers every day, manufacturers are always looking for innovative ways to include modern, eye-catching designs in their new products.  Touch screens and interactive digital displays are becoming more and more prevalent, especially in vehicles.  While this new technology is captivating, it is important to think about both the physical and psychological effects of such introductions.

Interactive displays may, at first glance, seem simple and practical. In reality, they can be dangerous.  Dashboard technologyHigh levels of contrast and glare emitting from the screen can pull one’s focus away while driving, increasing distractions and causing eyestrain and stress.  Additionally, touch screens may increase a driver’s physical risk, if they require extended reaches compared to push button controls.  Most touch screens respond to heat rather than pressure, therefore they cannot be used with gloves.  So, if you’re leaving for work in the morning in -15 degree weather, (like many of us have had this winter), and your car has touch screen controls, you have to choose—expose your hands to the bitter cold to adjust your car’s settings, attempt to take your gloves off while driving to adjust the car temperature, or invest in a pair of touch screen-friendly gloves (which, if you can find a pair that works effectively, are rarely thick enough to keep out the cold).  Errors made while interacting with this technology could be costly, and possibly life threatening.

As new technology works its way into all aspects of our lives, be careful to look past the “flashiness” of all of it, and think about the safety.  Often, simple is better.