ACCESS: Top Secret
- Mar 17, 2009
- Reaction score
They can; one of the hats on the throttle lets you slew around a cursor,The touch screen was always going to be a bit of gamble I feel. I wonder if the stick/throttle controls can interact with it for more basic commands?
I may not be an F-35 pilot, but I think moving away from touch screens would be regression - instead I think they need to better leverage modern consumer and commercial touch screen tech to incorporate things like capacitive touch layers (with IR as a back-up in case chemical warfare agents or water / moisture screws with the capacitive functionality), as well as the algorithms that've been developed to produce things like palm rejection in good modern tablets / touchscreen laptops. Other things such as predictive / speculative object selection could also be trialed / investigated, where if a pilot's finger misses (eg) a virtual button, but there are indications that the touch wasn't accurate (such as the finger / cursor rapidly sliding across the screen) then an algorithm can select the button they were closest to touching. Or if the finger has a lot of erratic movement around the screen (perhaps with accelerometer data indicating turbulence), in an area where there are multiple virtual buttons or targets on a display, the algorithm can go ahead and select the one that statistically (or based on the F-35's combat ID systems and threat prioritisation algorithms) that's more important. For example, if there's a hostile and a friendly close to each other on a tactical display, there's indications of turbulence / buffeting, and the pilot's finger has hit the screen closer to the friendly track, the display might instead select the hostile track.
I know such a system would have plenty of potential for error, but if you combine it with a physical manual override switch (just use one of the ~20 hats and switches on the HOTAS with the right context, or if you really want, add a new physical switch), I think it'd be sufficiently safe. Have the software written by someone competent with a reasonable fixed-cost contract (the concept / tech isn't cutting edge in the consumer world) and I think it could surprise people with how accurate it is (a number of consumer touchscreen devices already do this; the word prediction on good phone keyboards like Swiftkey (owned by Microsoft) can do an amazing job despite the open-ended problem it faces (but which the F-35's display doesn't)).