All Things Considered rips BMW iDrive interface

August 9th, 2002

gramophoneHuman Computer Interaction audio:
atc_bmw_ui_disaster.mp3 – 8 minutes, 19 Mb
Streaming RealAudio version here.

Here’s a scathing review of BMW’s iDrive system, the driver/car interface featured in their newest top-of-the-line automobiles. The press already skewered the arcane iDrive system in dozens of articles, but this one is a classic. You’ll pity the hapless salesman who struggles to make the boneheaded car understand his most basic verbal commands, for a national radio audience.

Negative product reviews offer fantastic opportunities to educate people about the need for good human-centered design, but the HCI field is still almost unknown to most reporters and to the public. It’s too bad that this NPR reporter didn’t talk to any HCI professionals, because such discussions could have made for a much more thoughtful and encouraging piece. But that’s our fault as HCI professionals — we need to make the press aware of these issues.

From National Public Radio’s All Things Considered, August 8, 2002

NPR description:

Complicated BMW

John Ydstie takes a ride in BMW’s hottest new luxury car — the 7 Series. It takes automotive computer power to a whole new level. Computer systems provide the car with BMW’s most powerful engine, a silky smooth ride and what is supposed to be the simplest in-dash control system available. But what is created for the sake of simplicity can oftentimes create the most confusion.


One Response to “All Things Considered rips BMW iDrive interface”

  1. comment number 1 by: Jay

    Thanks for the audio. iDrive is the first attepmt at using the compter technology in automobiles for driver regulated controls. The technology must take in account human interaction and interface design as a first and an essential step before designing the system. Once these issues are addressed you will have a much better iDrive.