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Tips For Designing Dashboard Controls

May 23rd, 2010

Every industry has unique control design challenges. When developing equipment to be mounted in a vehicle dashboard, you must keep driver safety in mind. It doesn’t matter if it’s a car audio system or a sophisticated target acquisition computer for a jet fighter; well-designed molded keypads improve function and also keep the vehicle operators safe.

Challenges Of Modern Dashboard Controls

Control design used to be easy simply because most dashboard devices had few functions. For example, car “audio systems” were no more complicated than AM radios with a tuning knob and a volume control. Drivers could adjust controls without being distracted from their most important job, safe operation of the vehicle.

Today’s devices have many more functions. A modern car audio system includes MP3 and CD player controls, equalizers, and more. Manufacturers have to give their customers the features they want but can’t create controls as complex as a home audio system might have because that complexity will distract the driver. Design of dashboard molded keypads has to balance functionality with safety and also be pleasing to the eye.

Operating By Touch

As a rule, dashboard equipment should be designed to be operated solely by touch. Drivers shouldn’t have to pull over every time they want to change a radio station. If a driver has to look at the dashboard, even for a second, it could be the moment traffic stops or a pedestrian runs into the road.

Si Tech molded keypads can be designed with raised controls that are easily distinguished by touch. Simple control designs can be created by giving enough separation between buttons to allow drivers to feel their way through. More complicated designs can incorporate button shapes or raised symbols to help drivers find the right button. The raised designs are still sleek and elegant, complimenting modern dashboard designs.

Control Feedback

How is your customer going to know when a control has been pushed? Dashboard molded keypads should provide some kind of response so drivers can be assured an input has been accepted.

We can vary what we call the “snap ratio” to give your controls a tactile feel. Higher snap ratios create a tactile click when the button is pressed, giving a solid response to let operators know the button has been pushed. You might also want to incorporate other feedback such as a rising audio tone to give drivers a rough feel for how a variable control has been set, or a voice to guide operators through menus.

Si Tech molded keypads are ideal solutions for dashboard controls. They allow our clients to create electronics that are safe and easy to operate even in a moving vehicle. Our controls are aesthetically pleasing and can stand up to environmental factors such as long sunlight exposure or spilled liquids that might destroy other dashboard devices. Contact one of our design experts to find out more information on how we can help you crate equipment your customers will love.

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