As cars get more complicated, designers have a problem: Making it easier for people to operate them. When drivers have only seconds to look away from the road, controls must be easy to understand and operate. For Ford, that means the new MyFord Touch.
Starting in the Ford Edge, Focus and Lincoln MKX, where it’s called MyLincoln Touch, the technology will be available on the majority of Ford’s nameplates within five years.
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“It’s really about managing the information that’s coming into the car,” says Paul Aldighieri, user interface designer for Ford. “That information could be very traditional, such as climate control, or things that are brought in, like managing an MP3 player or phone, or even potentially beamed in, like the Net.”
Colour-coding is an easy way for users to quickly understand information. The four corners of the MyFord Touch screen guide the driver: yellow for telephone information, green for navigation, blue for climate control, and red for entertainment.
“The colours were chosen on a colour wheel, but we had a couple of things that helped inform us,” Aldighieri says. “We wanted navigation to be green because that’s the colour of our highway signs, so it made sense, while climate is blue because blue is the colour typically associated with coolness.”
As its name suggests, MyFord Touch doesn’t use traditional controls, instead relying on touch-sensitive buttons that work when a finger comes in contact with the surface.
“We’re not as constrained as with the mechanicals of a traditional switch,” Aldighieri says. “It doesn’t have to be flat, and it doesn’t have to provide ‘landing areas’ between the buttons that we traditionally have to provide. If you think about the iPhone as an example, there’s quite a bit of control and display, but there’s only one button on the surface, and lots of points of interaction. It’s part of being approachable, and you can be much more free when you present the controls.”
The system supports Ford’s voice-activated SYNC control, allowing users to speak a variety of commands.