Ever wish the Tesla had more physical buttons? The huge displays that adorn all Tesla models are nice to look at, but they can be a hassle to use while driving. And although Tesla cars offer voice commands, they leave a lot to be desired: The Tesla will often misunderstand you, and some fairly obvious commands, such as changing the acceleration mode, simply do not work.
A gadget funded by Indiegogo called the Ctrl-Bar(Opens in a new window)created by a startup in Norway called Greenmission(Opens in a new window), aims to change that. It is a bar with two knobs and two buttons, designed to sit under the display of the Tesla Model 3/Y, offering easy access to frequently used features. For example, the knobs allow you to easily change the temperature of your car, and the programmable buttons can be used for several functions, such as turning on the seat heaters, defrost mode, or dog mode on and off.
Greenmission is not without experience; The company currently sells a wireless charger for the Tesla Model S and X. Just like that charger, the Ctrl-Bar is attached to the car with a hidden USB cable. On the other hand, the Ctrl-Bar only works with Tesla Model 3 and Y; Model S and X are not mentioned in the Indiegogo campaign.
Remember that 2016 video of Tesla driving itself? He was on stage.
The Ctrl-Bar is designed to look like a natural extension of the Tesla display, but it doesn’t communicate directly with the car. Instead, it uses a Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) connection to talk to your phone, which must be running the Greenmission app, and must be connected to the internet. When you click a button or turn a knob, the order is first sent to your phone, which communicates with the Tesla API to get the car to do your bidding.
This leaves what could be the most problematic aspect of the Ctrl-Bar: The inevitable delay between issuing a command and seeing it happen on the car’s display. Greenmission has partially solved this by including a display on the Ctrl-Bar that immediately shows the result of your action, and the car should do the actual command in “less than a second.” When you’re clicking buttons and turning knobs, “less than a second” can be quite a wait, but we’ll see how this works in real life once Ctrl-Bar is finalized (yes it is currently in a development phase) .
The Ctrl-Bar offers other benefits, such as additional LED lighting for your car, speed trap warnings, and potentially more, as Greenmission says new features will be made available through over-the-air updates.
The project has currently raised just over $18,000, with a fairly steady goal of $27,216, with 20 more days to go. If you’re interested, you can support the project and get the Ctrl-Bar (when available) for $260.
The Ctrl-Bar is not the first such accessory; the S3XY buttons(Opens in a new window), for example, are similar, although they have far fewer options. The Ctrl-Bar, however, looks so natural under the Model 3/Y display that it makes you wonder why Tesla didn’t include a set of physical buttons from the start. Tesla Model 3 reviewers have long complained about the lack of physical buttons; An early Consumer Reports review said the car’s touchscreen can be distracting because “every action forces drivers to take their eyes off the road and hands off the steering wheel.” The number of physical buttons in Tesla’s Model 3 and Y hasn’t changed since launch, but perhaps an accessory like the Ctrl-Bar can alleviate this issue for some drivers.