I had a “your chocolate is in my peanut butter” moment while driving my car. It started with eating trail mix at the wheel. I noticed that I did not need to look down into the bag to pick out my favorite items, cashews, raisins, and almonds. But I did need to look away from the road and at the wheel closely to distinguish the cruise from the radio channel buttons, which were smooth and labeled with small print. Fortunately, I did not hit the truck in front of me while adjusting the radio station. Then I had the epiphany that it should be as easy to find these buttons as it is to eat trail mix, without the need to look away from the road.
I thought, why not make the buttons on the steering wheel as recognizable to the sense of touch as anything else we feel with our fingers in day to day life?
The sense of touch is a sense that we take it for granted, until it is lost, say to neuropathy or other neurological diseases. Touch guides us constantly in our day to day lives, to to connect with a friend or feel a flower. A large part of our brain is dedicated to our hands and fingers and their associated motor skills and sensory inputs. It is amazing that when forced by blindness we can actually read pages using Braille. It is surprising that we have not deliberately capitalized on this sense in our vehicles. Now is the time.
If using the sense of touch keeps our eyes on the road, this ability can be lifesaving.
Disclosure: I ate a lot of trail mix while writing this blog and taking the photo.