The problems of touchscreens in the Joint Strike Fighter

Originally published at: The problems of touchscreens in the Joint Strike Fighter | Boing Boing


Ah, touchscreens, something I’ve always thought should never be on the control panel of anything that moves. What the FUCK are they doing putting them in something capable of supersonic speeds?!

My car is (fortunately?) old and low-end enough to have a stereo instead of an “infotainment system,” and has real buttons and knobs on the dashboard. If I’m lucky, my next car will be past the touchscreen trend.


The worst part is how the display automatically goes to sleep after 30 seconds of inactivity and you have to type in your six-digit passcode again.


Physical feedback is important. The early sticks of the flybywire controls had zero play and the pilots would develop carpal tunnel or similar by over compensating the control movements. Adding a little give reduced the perceived effort and reduced the damage.

I believe I saw/read that at either Museum of the USAF or Air and Space Smithsonian.

I expect multi-use programmable buttons and dials would help reduce the clutter and improve the accuracy.


“That ain’t a bogey, it’s a booger.”

Roger That!


'Snot there in other words…


The most important functions that the pilot interacts with are done from the side-stick controller. The touchscreen pushes are used to access lesser-used and less critical functions.


I can only hope that any of the membrane switches are better than the supremely shitty ones that create infinite frustration on my air fryer. At many billions spent, I’m sure the membrane switches are of at least slightly higher quality.


I don’t want touch screens on my:

  • car dashboard
  • garden sprinkler timer
  • piano keyboard (what’s with cheap USB MIIDI controllers that are worse than using virtual keyboard with a mouse?)
  • $100m weapons-capable aircraft
  • TV remote - or anything I might need to use in a dark room where tactile buttons (or at least haptics) provide positive feedback
  • really anything that is special purpose and shouldn’t need to make compromises on user interface for the sake of flexibility. unlike a general purpose device like a tablet.

touchscreens for functions you need to use all the time are terrible. can’t do it by feel, no tactile feedback, no cool switch clicking

I dislike them so much I built this for videoconferences


Why do you have three position switches for on/off?

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I hate it when someone has a picture they want me to see because invariably by handling their phone i will activate some other app. Or at the very least, the photo will go away and they have to get it back to make sure i see it.


Each switch is two position. The angle makes it look like it’s centered.

the first toggle is a mode switch between zoom and teams. it changes the output so it will send the right hotkeys for each app


They don’t call it a cockpit for nothing!

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What does the lamp over Zoom/Teams indicate?

Nice box BTW


Holy hell… Where to even start with this.

This is a totally foreseeable problem that should have been addressed at multiple phases of development. We have DECADES of ergonomic data on when to use and when not to use touch interface in all kinds of vehicles/environments.

So the only possible reason for this implementation is “touch screen more cool.” Just a gimmick the contractor can use to impress the armchair *s who will never have to fly the damn thing.

Probably could have achieved the same design goals (which seem sound) with a hybrid touch/tactile interface. But that wouldn’t sound as cool in the sales pitch.

But hey, boondoggle’s gonna boondoggle, I guess. And if this billion $ death machine is somehow less effective, then so be it.



green means it’s in zoom mode with zoom hotkeys. Blue means it’s set to control Teams

The biggest benefit of this box is can I instantly see if the camera or mic are on instead of looking for the tiny indicators on the apps themselves.

that and toggle switches are fun to flip


Hmm, alternate hypothesis: What if the goal of this plane is to eventually get rid of the pilot as anything but an observer? It seems the design is well suited for human monitoring, with enough feedback that they can “take over” wen they need to. Seems to be a prime candidate for the future of ARTUµ…

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Replace the touchscreen with Alexa? /s


Well done sir, well done!

standing ovation applause GIF