Ford has revealed that it is using both brain scans and eye tracking as part of its research into the design of its next-generation automotive interiors. Ford unveiled the new techniques in a live webcast from the US.
Although Ford personnel did not give any hints as to what cars would use this technology as part of their development, both the next-generation Ford Focus and Ford Mondeo family models will currently be under development.
The research methods start with eye tracking, which follows the direction of a person’s eye movements over time. This helps Ford’s designers and researchers work out what parts of a design are noticed first.
The eye tracking information can also be used to see what percentage of people are fixated on a particular area for a significant amount of time. This should show Ford’s designers which areas of a new proposal get the most visual attention and which areas are ignored.
Finally, brain scanning is used to track the "activation and inhibition of brain systems" when looking at an interior proposal. Ford thinks that by establishing which areas of the brain ‘light up' it will be possible to divine the "degree of emotional attraction versus repulsion".
The upshot, think company researchers, will help establish whether a design proposal is attractive to the sample audience.
Moray Callum, Ford’s Vice President of Design said that Ford’s future approach to interior design would be based on three fundamental principles: “Clarity of intent, innovation and connection”
Callum said that this approach had been first used in the interior for the Ford GT supercar. “All the switchgear had to be accessible by a driver both fully belted in and sitting on a seat that is fixed in position," he said. "We also believe that, in a performance car, that some singular buttons are needed."
He also pointed to the "visual lightness" of the GT instrument panel as another trait that will be carried into the future.
Ford’s own research has shown that in the United States the average commuting distance is 25.4 miles and the average driver could spend 10 days per year in their car.
“We live in our interiors and they are becoming much more important. We need to look at improved materials, fit and finish and really concentrate on the details,” said a Ford source.