This paper reports the results of a two-phase study of steering column mounted multifunction controls. A modified Mercedes Benz multifunction control (MFC) unit was installed in a 1972 Chevrolet station wagon. Control functions included were turn signals, washer, wiper, headlight dimmer, and optical horn.
Phase 1 of the study investigated response time, error rates, and learning for this particular MFC. Phase 2 investigated subjective preferences, comparing the MFC with conventional controls and comparing alternative functions for inclusion in an “ideal” MFC unit.
High error rates were found for first time use; however, subjects quickly learned to operate the unit with performance comparable to a representative panel control. Subjective responses were highly favorable to the concept.