In car computers have come a long way since the first enthusiast decided to hook up his desktop to an in dash monitor and see what happened. Driving this point home is a mouse like control system, designed by Lexus, that allows the driver to navigate the functions of the infotainment system using a trackball like device.
Located in the center of the vehicle, where the hand naturally falls for many people, is a small hand rest contoured to fit your palm that has a small finger pad at the top. The finger pad works much the same way as a trackball and is connected wirelessly to the vehicles infotainment system. By moving the finger pad in any direction, a mouse pointer (or large hand if you so choose) will glide across the oversized LCD screen. An "Enter" button situated on either side of the hand rest acts at the left mouse button to complete the point and click function.
Above the finger pad, a menu button acts as a way to quickly jump back to the main menu, while a map button will transfer you to the navigation mode. Once in the navigation mode, you can point and click on a destination, or search for one using the point and click system to browse for your intended location.
According to Lexus, the reason they decided to use the hand rest and touchpad was due to safety issues that plagued the traditional touch screens. To get from screen to screen, the driver had to glance over to see where the next button he or she needs is located and touch to corresponding button. This has led to more than a few accidents and ever more close calls.
The screen was also placed as close to the drivers' normal viewing area as possible to help reduce the likelihood of having an accident while trying to use the infotainment system. The positioning will also serve as a way to reduce eye strain from looking back and forth trying to juggle the road ahead of you and the system you are trying to manipulate.
The new system originally debuted on the Lexus HS 250h, eventually being integrated into the RX-series and new LX-series of vehicles.