Motorcycles to Feature Touchscreen Interfaces

June 12, 2017 2 min read

Touchscreen interfaces are found just about everywhere, ranging from mobile handsets and computer monitors, to major household appliances and even retail fitting rooms. But this isn't a trend that's going away anytime soon, as the technology may soon become commonplace in motorcycles as well.


Earlier this year, Polaris Industries unveiled a 7-inch touchscreen interface designed specifically for use in motorcycles. Dubbed “Ride Command,” the touchscreen interface provides turn-by-turn directions, Bluetooth connectivity, and more. Reports indicate that it can even direct you to the nearest gas station when your tank approaches empty.


There are certain caveats that must be considered when designing a touchscreen interface for a motorcycle. Will it withstand moisture and dust? Will the operator's fingerprints restrict or otherwise interfere with its functionality? Is the interface responsive? Designers must consider all of these factors and more when creating a touchscreen interface for a motorcycle.


There are some obvious benefits to including a touchscreen interface on a motorcycle, one of which being the simplicity of command input. With a touchscreen interface, riders can find new routes, place/receive phone calls and more, all from touching a single interface panel. And studies have shown that users prefer touchscreen interfaces more than traditional mechanical keyboards.


On the other hand, however, there are also some potential downsides to using a touchscreen interface on a motorcycle. The biggest concern is that touchscreen interfaces will cause (or contribute to) accidents. Distracted driving is a main cause of automobile accidents, and motorcycles are no exception. When a driver is distracted, he or she is more likely to crash.


According to Polaris' Steve Mennetto, however, touchscreen interfaces will actually improve rider safety on motorcycles. “When you have these discussions, you always think of rider safety,” said Steve Mennetto, president of Polaris Motorcycles. “But it's in such demand from customers. And once you get your new toy home, and you’re settled in with how it works, it just gives you a lot more confidence."


Of course, touchscreen interfaces have actually been used on motorcycles for quite some time now. BMW, for instance, launched a Navigator V interface on its bikes back in 2013. Harley Davidson has also launched a line of touchscreen-equipped motorcycles. In any case, it appears that touchscreen interfaces will soon become the norm for motorcycles.


What do you think about touchscreen interfaces being used in motorcycles?