Emerging IVIS Designs

The focus of emerging IVIS designs is to reduce distraction. The result is to overlook the causes of distraction and therefore to design an equally if not more distracting interaction.

Krenn (2014). Can we achieve these interactions without looking at the feedback (i.e. the temperature?) or, more critically reading the small fonts? And as for accessibility, we MUST have five fingers, remember how many fingers control what, and be able to “claw” predictably left-handed in Ireland and the UK.

The goal of IVIS design is to reduce distraction. Only moving visual output into the binnacles or onto a HUD is missing the point. Although glance numbers and duration is important and positioning the output close to the driver’s natural sightline, it is the cognitive effort that causes most distraction.

There is no point in clever interactions and even trackpads on a steering wheel if our driver still needs to focus on the menu, option, or feedback presented on a screen.

Kessels (2018a). Critically, no matter how simplified the unlabelled trackpads (requiring learning), the output still requires cognition (orientation, reading, and understanding) and precise motor control while bumping along our neglected roads.

Kessels (2018b).

As for HUD, as attractive and comfortable as they are to use, the action of glancing at their display requires time to refocus the eyes from distance to arms’ length. OK, so the total journey time may be less than that traversing our gaze to a Virtual Cockpit display as Audi uses. Is that fraction justifiable?

Panasonic USA (2016). Is there a potentially catastrophic omission when expecting our driver to read directions that need decoding and understanding written in a small font while a yellow warning appears to indicate a human is a potential hazard? Sure we have peripheral vision and we’re alert…

Is it really safe to read and cognate the small-font direction on the Panasonic automotive head up display?
Excerpt from the Panasonic (2016) video adapted by the author to highlight a possible design flaw.

More important, perhaps is the information architecture. In Audi’s MMI, there is an option for User, one for Car, and one for Settings. All are settings and it is frustrating remembering or even recalling where the one setting or other lives according to someone else’s ontology. Frustration is a cognitive process; distraction.

So, review the videos on this page with a more critical gaze and you may spot the core issues when designing an IVIS and its interaction:

  • Without standard design, drivers must learn about each new IVIS they encounter.
  • Learning is a cognitive process and a distraction from the primary driving task.
  • Eye focus equates to eye movement and a glance. It is a physiological process of adapting the shape of the eye lens and may involve head movements for users of varifocal lensed glasses. 
  • Hand-eye coordination is a combined cognitive and motor process. Distraction.
  • Not looking and searching for an interaction with a hand requires spatial and motor cognitive processes that involve the visual cortex. Distraction.

Maybe we should stop chasing the imaginative concept artwork supplied by Start Trek and Blade Runner and concentrate on what we need to be safer drivers?


Krenn, M. (2014, February 18). A New Car UI: How touch screen controls in cars should work. [Video File]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XVbuk3jizGM&t=38s.

Kessels, C. (2018a, August 21). Gesture Interaction V2. [Video File]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZalEELCdIoc.

Kessels, C. (2018b, September 25). Gesture Interaction Concept. [Video File]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IyKkf29e39Q.

Panasonic USA. (2016, March 31). A Next-Generation Vehicle Developed for Safety. [Video File]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O34KTgY6CSU.