Ford’s green dashboard tamagotchi

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In an attempt to save the planet (and sell more cars in the proces) Ford is working on a new type of dashboard. The company came up with the idea that drivers will become eco-drivers when they are shown what the results of their driving style is. Unfortunately they completely missed the purpose of a dashboard in the process.

The dashboard they’ve been working on is called SmartGauge. It is actually a big LCD screen that can display all kinds of information. On the display they integrated EcoGuide. This EcoGuide translates your driving style into a plant: when you drive green it shows a full-grown vine with leaves, but when you start driving bad it starts to become brown and die. This way Ford is trying to make you more aware of your driving style. It’s actually the next generation Tamagotchi, which lives or dies depending on your care.

While this may sound like a good idea, the implementation seems to fail. In a demonstration of SmartGauge it becomes clear that technology is leading, at the cost of usability. Because of the LCD screen the engineers must have thought: ‘Hey, this is a great way to pack away a lot of useless information in this car!’ Now the driver will see different screens while driving and even needs a tutorial to explain all the functions. Why is this necessary?

I personally do like the idea of EcoGuide. Not all drivers will embrace this, because they like driving fast and in bursts. But more and more people will be proud to show of that they are indeed living green. This said: wouldn’t it be cool if you could take EcoGuide outside your car. Maybe the vines can be displayed on your carkey, so that people will know how green you really are.

Jeroen van Geel

Jeroen van Geel is founder/chief kahuna of Johnny Holland and the interaction director at Fabrique [brands, design & interaction], a Dutch multidisciplinary design agency. You can follow him on Twitter via @jeroenvangeel.

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