When Ford came to us to design an LCD based instrument cluster, we had an immediate (and we think innovative) response. Design can influence driving behavior. While Ford’s engineers would optimize the efficiency of the vehicle - we would optimize efficiency of the driver! This includes not only fuel efficiency – we also used the LCD display to reduce driver distraction.

Our team at Smart Design devised ways to clarify communication between driver and machine. Building on an experience architecture designed by IDEO, we suggested the use of clear information design and graphic techniques that can reduce visual demand, not increase it.

The result is the SmartGauge with EcoGuide, an innovative instrument cluster for Ford’s hybrid vehicles. Its ability to coach drivers to save fuel is revolutionary. However, there’s more to the story. In this video we discuss another innovative benefit – the use of color and contrast to reduce glance time, and even make certain gauges readable in peripheral vision.

The Ford Fusion was named 2010 Motor Trend Car of the Year and the 2010 North American Car of the Year. SmartGauge with EcoGuide was named a Finalist in the 2009 IDEA competition through IDSA/BusinessWeek, earned an 2010 Outstanding Achievement honor from the HOW Interactive Design Awards and was named Best in Category for Disruption in the 2012 IxDA Awards.

Smart Design is an innovation consulting firm. To learn more, please visit

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Darren Geraghty

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