Why Touch Screen on Airplanes Don't Work?
I have been doing some traveling by air in my retirement. On most flights today, the airplane is equipped with a personal flat screen that allow the passenger access to various entertainments such as movies and TV shows and assorted music. This is a great improvement over the past where only one movie is shown to the whole cabin.
- May 2017
It is wonderful to have the option to watch a show on demand. The problem is, often, the touch screen is not working properly. On various flights, I have identified a few failure modes. They are the following.
- the screen is frozen, no amount of touch can reset it.
- some parts of the screen does not react to touch. Some functions are not working.
- miss registration. The area touched is miss aligned to the function buttons on the display.
- A delay in the response after a button is touched.
- Some controls are too small and causes the user to press the wrong action.
There is nothing more frustrating than to be on a 6 hour cross country flight and your video screen is defective. Sometimes, you can get your seat reassigned but most times, the flight is full. You are out of luck.
Details and Suggestions
The technical design of this system includes choosing the right hardware and paired with the human factors interface design to produce a well implemented solution. Some of the issues may be due to the touch screen. These screens are used continuously and will eventually fail due to over usage. Miss registration of touches is a common problem with all touch screens. Periodic re-registration will help correct such issues.
It will also help if their is a light indicator when any part of the screen is touched. This will give feedback to the user when a point is touched and received.
The size of the active area or function button should be large enough and with a clear box around it. This will help guide the user to the proper location.
Some of the screens are dysfunctional due to dirt and grease from touches by humans. A screen cleaner provided by the airline will go a long way to reduce this problem. Not to mention, the sanitary benefits of a clean screen is not to be minimized.
Finally, a self diagnosis button would help isolate any issues between hardware or software. Alternatively, a "reset" button to start from fresh In case the system is hung due to a bug.
It is baffling to me how these systems can be so full of bugs. I am hoping that future designers of these in-flight entertainment system take notice. A few well chosen functions and a robust diagnostic system will go a long way to help the passengers have an easier experience.
© 2017 Jack Lee