Ford Adds Advanced Research Tools To Car Interior Design

DEARBORN — Ford Motor Co. this week said it’s now using new research and measurement methods and high-tech tools to gain insight into the way customers use car interiors — and what they like and don’t like about them, both on a logical and an emotional level.

New techniques include eye tracking, measuring where eyesight lingers most, and biometrics.

“Vehicle interiors have witnessed one of the biggest evolutions across the history of cars in recent years,” said Raj Nair, Ford Motor Company group vice president for global product development. “Not only have we introduced a great deal of useful new technology into our cars and trucks, we consistently are adding better materials, improved design and increased features across the board, from high-end vehicles to entry-level segments. All of this leads to a focus on design languages that not only convey the right messages, but deliver on an enhanced user experience.”

Research shows that a great-looking interior design can attract new buyers, but if it isn’t thought through to accommodate various customer needs, the result can be a less satisfying experience.

Ford says its research happens early in the design process, while responses to color, materials, and other critical elements will continue to be assessed through customer clinics at a later stage of the process.

Ford followed a similar approach in designing the interior of the all-new Ford GT – a two-door supercar that serves as a technology showcase for top EcoBoost performance, aerodynamics and lightweight carbon fiber construction.

First, the main components of the Ford GT interior were identified, then the design was pushed forward, introducing new principles and innovative design solutions.

“Over the past few years, we have gained some incredible momentum with our designs,” said Moray Callum, Ford vice president for design. “As we move forward, we need to build on and evolve what we have achieved so far to continue to deliver exciting and fresh solutions. The interior design of the Ford GT builds on existing DNA and pushes it forward.”

Three guiding principles drive Ford GT interior design:
* Clarity of intent – highlighting focused areas of functionality
* Innovation – pushing the boundaries of innovation to develop new designs and keep changing the way the world moves
* Connection – establishing a connection with the driver through more compact, more intuitive technology

Ford says the Ford GT interior brings those principles to life through design touches that visually communicate:
* Fit for purpose – technology is concentrated and organized in clear islands with an ergonomic logic. All essential functions are within reach without the driver having to move his hand position
* Lean and lightweight – the instrument panel features a two-tier step design with floating wing. It makes use of the negative space while calling attention to the edge detailing. The result is a feeling of spaciousness
* Perceived efficiency – soft materials and hard technology are carefully balanced so that all touchable materials are soft and all technology areas are hard, conveying laser precision across the instrument panel

The thinking behind the interior design of Ford GT extends beyond the automotive world, serving as inspiration for Ford’s display at this year’s Salone del Mobile. The world’s most prestigious international furniture and design event takes place April 14-19 in Milan, Italy.

Designers across Ford’s global design studios applied the new approach to the creation of non-automotive products, including a sailboat, musical instruments, and a football table. Just as with global design review for a vehicle, proposals were vetted by the leadership team to ensure alignment with fundamental principles, feasibility and efficient use of resources.

“The guidelines developed for the design of the Ford GT interior can lead to very different solutions within and beyond the automotive field,” Callum said. “We opened the challenge to our team to submit proposals for Milan and the response was overwhelming. Selecting the finalists that will be on display was difficult.”

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