Researchers test touch-screen steering wheels

With buttons multiplying like barnacles on the surfaces of steering wheels, researchers in Germany developed a single touch-sensitive disc to replace them. If you can't use your iPhone while driving, why not turn your steering wheel into a iPhone?

The work by researchers at the University of Duisburg-Essen and the German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence attempted to not just design rudimentary hardware, but suggest what kind of motions might be most intuitive to drivers as they try to tune the satellite radio while settling a fistfight among toddlers over the movie two rows back.

Researchers test touch-screen steering wheelsS

To test their device, the researchers asked test handlers to simply guess what motions might be used for a welter of different commands. Unsurprisingly, many of the gestures came straight from the iPhone realm, while others were a little less straightforward — like drawing a triangle for "play song."

The next steps? More research and probing whether any automaker might be interested. It can't be any worse than iDrive.