2011 Nissan LeafEnlarge Photo
A recent survey by Accenture has revealed that more than half of American and British consumers would prefer simpler devices that worked better. As our lives fill with more and more electronic gadgets of increasing complexity, the ones that stand out are often the simplest to use.
We recently warned about the dangers of increasingly complex devices in cars, which can be visually, cognitively and manually distracting - taking your eyes, mind and hands away from the task of driving. Simpler gadgets in a driving environment are even more important.
Over half of the survey's 2,000 respondents expressed frustration with at least one of their frequently used devices over the last six months. Devices crashing was the biggest concern, cited by 39 percent of the sample, though almost half of 18-24 year olds reported the same problem, suggesting younger consumers are especially frustrated by poor reliability.
Half want driverless cars
People are clearly frustrated by their cars, too. 49 percent of those questioned actually said they would be comfortable using driverless cars. Perhaps for some the tiring commute to and from work has left them less tolerant of any aspect of their car that isn't simple to use.
Consumers want vehicles and devices that offer clear benefits whilst reducing frustration, and saving time, money and energy were popular responses - 73 percent would be prepared to pay more for energy efficient solutions.
This bodes well for the advent of electric cars, which are incredibly easy to operate and even remove most of the worries about maintenance that drivers have. With over half of consumers in the U.S. willing to pay extra and ten percent willing to pay as much as 30 percent more for simple and autonomous gadgets, it may not be too long before EVs become an attractive option for many consumers.
The motor industry is already beginning to realize the importance of a simple user interface for in-car gadgets, and easy to use touch-screens are beginning to appear in more vehicles. French maker Renault recently announced they are looking to a consumer tech influence for their interiors in terms of feel and interaction.
Economy of usage is one of the factors that made Apple's iPod the success it is. A simple control method using a scroll wheel and five buttons, and latterly a responsive touchscreen, make even the most complicated features simple and satisfying to use.
The car industry is currently lagging a little behind some areas of the personal electronics industry for intuitive control and clever design - but with cars being made ever safer and greener, perhaps it's time they were made simpler too?