Ford adds gaming elements to on-board displays

Hybrid and electric car drivers are getting messages about how well they’re doing through graphics on their dashboard. Soon, they’ll get to compete online.

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Mention electric cars to some folks, and they get images in their heads of dashboards full of gauges and gadgets, like the never-ending instrument panel in “Airplane!”.

Ford Motor Co. is bypassing that worry by giving drivers an alternative to complex graphs and displays in favor of something almost like a game. Drivers of the Fusion Hybrid see leaves growing on a vine to determine how efficiently they’re driving, while Focus Electric Vehicle owners see butterflies in their dashboard display as a measure of how many miles they can safely drive on a charge.

These displays don’t only communicate information in a creative way, they also help drivers who already have an interest in being more environmentally responsible—they’re driving these cars, after all—get the most out of their cars.

“We figured if we can show success for certain metrics with these symbols that have a motivational power at an emotional level, we can coach more effectively,” says Paul Aldighieri, a human-machine interface engineer at Ford.

Soon, the motivation will go beyond the car. Through Ford’s MyFord Mobile app, drivers will soon have the opportunity to earn and share badges for driving achievements.

Growing and transforming

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