I recently drove my cousins BMW which has to date the latest and greatest from the car company in terms of technology and innovation. To say the least, my brain exploded while trying to operate even the simplest of tasks.
BMW's approach to the dashboard has been to use what it calls the iDrive as it's main controller over the gps, entertainment and climate systems. One of the first problems I encountered with this was trying to figure out what I was actually changing when interacting with it. The language around the controller is confusing and oddly placed. The back and option buttons seem to be a redundant function to the capabilities of the controller itself, and the media, radio, menu, tel, and nav buttons are uncomfortable to use. Albeit the system was designed to be learned over time, but even when I did figure out how to use it, It was just as cognitively heavy as swiping through a screen full of the same content. If trying to create muscle memory out of the system was the goal of BMW, I have to say this fails in similar ways that using a consumption device type interface does.
But looking at the intentions, it is clear that BMW has the right idea, and was just unable to execute something that maybe all car companies are having trouble doing. That is, to reduce features, and redundancies and form a point of view as to what and where things should go. It would make sense that by adding a one does all contoller, you would reduce the many buttons and knobs on the traditional dashboard. But this isn't the case whatsoever, It actually is more complicated than say that of a, rocket ship.
To add another layer of complexity, the place of visual feedback is a screen on the center console as well as projected information in front of the driver onto the windshield.
This becomes very confusing when trying to operate the controller blind, when you are operating tasks that are divided between both screens and in some cases duplicated on both screens.
But I think the most compelling feedback I received about the design was from my cousin, who previously owned BMW's as they evolved this technology, expressed the duration of learning needed to use the car as it was intended to be.
This is a great example of the tension we face in interaction design, being as technology become more complex, it is easy to let the interaction become overwhelming and misalign with the way the human brain works.
As Don Norman states in his book, Living With Complexity,