touch buttons

UI (user interfaces) are visual software interfaces that allow humans and machines to interact and communicate. They can be found everywhere: websites, apps, machinery. They are made up of graphic elements and must correspond to a specific behavior that the user expects.

Example?
Apps are the quintessential UI. They are the tools we use every day to carry out actions and complete tasks with our smartphone and with the advent of digitization they have become so relevant that they have evolved extremely accelerated in the last decade.

In fact, with the disruptive arrival of Apple on the market, with its iconic Iphone and consequently the App Store, it has provided designers with a strong potential and low cost platform that have allowed them to develop great creativity, knowledge and create new professions. In doing so, the Cupertino company has forced all competitors to adapt to its many innovations.

Another fundamental aspect of the software is the UX (user experience): it is the set of sensations and memories that the user feels when dealing with an app, a website, an e-commerce, or with a specific brand.

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UI and UX have assumed a central role in the use of the web. They are the way in which it is determined how long a user will remain on the platform he is using: the more attractive from a design and functional point of view it will be, the more time the users will be encouraged to stay.

The HUI (hardware user interface) on the other hand, is an interdisciplinary design field that models the physical connection between people and technology in order to create new hardware interfaces. The elements that make up this industry are: keyboards, buttons, switches, knobs, cursors, touch screens, as well as generically any input sensor.

They can be applied to different fields: in the automotive industry for example, the buttons on the steering wheel or on the dashboard to make it easier for drivers to use and distract them less, in the food industry for coffee, ice cream and beverage machines to make them easy to use and beautiful to look at, in the medical field, the machinery of specialist studies become simpler to use and to clean, in home automation the switches become touch.

Why hasn’t the evolution of the UI industry been accompanied by the evolution of the HUI world?

There are many reasons for this lack of development, below we analyze some key reasons. Unlike UIs, the hardware interfaces sector is extremely varied with higher development costs and no dedicated platforms to help designers in development.

Furthermore, in the electronic industrial chain, during the last 15 years, semiconductor companies have developed increasingly sophisticated chips for touch technology.
Unfortunately, the intermediaries in this supply chain who develop HUI have not managed to project this technology on the market due to the lack of some industrial innovations. In particular, the low reliability of touch technology compromised the design of the HUIs which proved to be unsatisfactory for replacing the mechanical interfaces still in use today.

Ultimately, the lack of a unified platform, such as a project that brings together technical reliability from an electronic point of view, with the processing of materials and industrial planning of the product from a design point of view, has not allowed HUI to develop at the better.

The different stages of HUI’s production: design, prototyping, production

At èlevit we are convinced that the HUI industry needs to innovate drastically. In fact, traditional mechanical buttons are obsolete technologies that have problems of wear and tear and limited design, mainly made with plastic materials.

Coffee machines, stereos, dashboards: every button, knob or switch can be redesigned thanks to touch technology. Efficient, fast and elegant, it can transform any object into a modern key.

Design and functionality. èlevit has filled this void by allowing the adoption of touch technology by companies that will finally be able to innovate, replacing buttons, switches and mechanical keyboards.

Our start-up brings together industrial design, interaction design and electronic engineering to elevate the aesthetic and technical aspects of physical interfaces to the highest level. The use of touchscreen technology combined with the simple and elegant glass material produces a result that can revolutionize the market.

èlevit is an innovative startup, established with the aim of bringing a new technology to the Hardware User Interface (HUI) market.

Industrial design is the process of functional and aesthetic development of a series product.
The design work develops according to the needs of technical efficiency and utility combined with the original, aesthetically beautiful and recognizable shape of the product in question.
The work of the product designer, principal agent of this process, is to put together the technical and artistic work. On the one hand, he should meet the needs of the market from the point of view of innovation and technological efficiency, on the other he should be able, through his creativity, to make the stylistic elements of the brand in the product legible, making it aesthetically beautiful at the same time.

For example, in the automotive industry, in the development of each component that will make up the car, two figures intervene: the product designer deals with the interior design of the car, the general layout, and is the one who works a synthesis, according to the demands of the market, between functionality and aesthetics, imagining innovative ideas and outside the box at a technical and creative level.

The stylist, instead, works in the synthesis of the stylistic elements of the brand, so that, visually, the car appears immediately recognizable to the eye of the consumer. The stylistic elements are continuously updated according to the evolution of the functionalities and the image of the company (1).

Take for example a classic and influential car like the Alfa Romeo Giulia:

As you can see from the images the evolution of design is always a compromise between technology and style innovation. In recent years, the evolution of car interior design has focused on replacing the mechanical elements of the dashboard, but not only.

In the Alfa Romeo Giulia, it appears the need, also shown by other competitors, to make the interior of the car a place of living that did not exist before. This transition was certainly generated by the dematerialization of levers, buttons and switches that determined the radical transition from analog to digitalThis new concept of the car, has brought to its interior infotainment systems that have become the new standard and beating heart of the interior car (2) (3).

This type of technology certainly adds functionality to the car, although it must be implemented carefully given the risk, scientifically documented (4), that the quantity of information given to the driver is excessive, resulting in disorientation and an exponential increase in distraction during driving. 

In addition to security aspects, design activities must also integrate digital systems, making them converge on the product’s own style.

This process is possible by replacing mechanical buttons with custom touch buttons and haptic actuator as feedback on commandsThe design must be quick and intuitive and not give the feeling of having a “spaceship” car. Certainly the style that Tesla has launched in the last decade is striking and innovative, but that type of design is exclusively part of the Tesla product, that is, corresponds to its style. The other car manufacturers have different identities that flow into their products that must evolve and not be upset.

èlevit is able to take part in the encounter between design and functionality while maintaining style and ergonomics. In fact, the touch buttons and switches produced by èlevit meet the stringent needs of automotive interior designers from an aesthetic and decorative point of view, while preserving the identity of the car.

And just about the futuristic design reminiscent of spaceships, a good example of a meeting between the creation of a product with high technical characteristics but at the same time aesthetically beautiful is the spaceship Starship designed by SpaceX (5).

The decision to use touch technology for the control panel is actually that out of the box and innovative idea taken by the product designer. This is a disruptive innovation leaving the mechanical buttons in the past. Astronauts even had to re-learn the automatic movements with which to operate in the spacecraft.

èlevit, similarly stands in a disruptive way in the automotive and HMI industries, with the aim of replacing mechanical elements with touch buttons and glass touch switches. The technological innovation in this case, perfectly combines the aesthetic need, proposing a high-level design that exploits the properties of glass.

In short, the pursuit of technological innovations must not, however, result in the approval of marks. It is not necessary that, with the advent of infotainment, all car models resemble a spaceship in terms of technology and functionality.
The meaning of the design idea of a design object is that it adapts and finds a meeting point between innovation and shape.

This is possible through the customization of the components. According to the project provided by the designers, èlevit is able to create any type of user interface glass touch: shape, decoration, coloring, functionality, we do not place a limit to the design in all its forms.

èlevit, the future interaction of glass.

We have been witnessing the evolution of cars in both design and performance for generations. Step by step, thanks to visionaries and engineering geniuses, this progress has led to the cars speeding along our roads today.

One of the challenges of today’s designers is to create increasingly extreme and modern HMIs (dashboards and cockpits). This should be combined with the continuity of design necessary to perceive the innovations as a natural evolution of the style and brand of the car.
Touch technology is definitely the trend of the near future in terms of user interfaces; it has essential technical and aesthetic advantages, even if some troubles may arise in its different implementations. It is indeed important not to confuse the touch technology used for keyboards, buttons and replaces the old mechanical keys with touch screens.

In recent years, in the automotive industry, simultaneously with the technological innovation of smartphones and tablets, there has been an advent of large touch displays inside the cars.
Aiming to update the driver with information on traffic conditions, weather, hazard warnings, and email and message notifications, touch screens have increasingly taken over the car dashboard.

Also recent is the arrival At the same time, major players in the industry such as Android and Apple have designed systems that adapt to car screens, reproducing the features of smartphones to all intents and purposes.

According to a study conducted by the University of Utah, the infotainment systems introduced inside the cars are far from safe and indeed, would greatly increase the possibility of the driver being distracted.  Professor David L. Strayer, who led this research, noted that many of the infotainment features are so distracting that they shouldn’t be enabled while people are driving.

“This is troublesome because motorists may assume that features that are enabled when they are driving are safe and easy to use”, said Strayer.

Both the use of touchscreen technology and  of voice-based features lead drivers to be distracted by both taking their eyes off the road  and their hands off  the steering wheel, taking extremely dangerous periods of time.
The study shows that drivers need a technology that is safe and easy to use, but many of the features included in-car infotainment systems are currently too complex to use while driving and, at times, the user experience is frustrating for drivers.  The frustration caused by an unsatisfactory use of these systems generates a greater cognitive effort on the part of the driver and therefore a potential increase in driving distraction.

A possible solution could be a system that does not affect drivers ’visual, cognitive and manual attention . The design of touch buttons on the steering wheel and on the dashboard that vibrate in response to the driver’s commands could prove to be an intuitive and non-distracting way to carry out the same operations envisaged by the infotainment.
Furthermore, superficial finger guides can be created on the same buttons , thus allowing the driver to detect the commands without looking at the keyboard.

Overall, the need to develop HMIs with attractive, modern and safe designs is a problem that touch technology combined with decorated glass can solve.

Glass is a noble and sustainable material that increases the design level of the product in which it is integrated. With appropriate precautions, it is extremely safe and robust even for demanding industries such as the automotive industry.

The combination of touch technology with glass is a very strong technical and aesthetic mix with the ability to innovate the automotive HMI sector ensuring safety on all fronts.
The ability to customize the glass decoration with digital and industrial methods is a fundamental element that responds to the need of car manufacturers to innovate their design in line with their brand.

èlevit is an innovative start-up that has developed highly reliable and fully customizable glass keyboards and touch buttons. These products can be integrated into vehicles, responding to the need of drivers to avoid distractions. At the same time they èlevit integrates in its products all the useful functions provided by new technologies and keeps the design factor high as required by car manufacturers.

For these reasons,  èlevit is the perfect partner to develop innovative HMI products also in the automotive industry.