How important is the color of your car?
Researchers developing interior lighting in the new Ford Fusion took into consideration the critical role lighting plays in relaying information to the driver.
Lighting works with design to create a balance of illumination that reduces eye strain and optimizes driver-vehicle interaction.
Lights on or off, the interior also provides expanded functionality and driver comfort, in a sporty, sexy layout.
With the right lighting, everything else falls into place.
DEARBORN, Mich., Feb. 23, 2012
The interior lighting in the all-new Ford Fusion proves that out; it moves beyond simple functionality. Ford researchers realize that a person’s attention span is limited, and lighting can play a key role in providing a driver with critical and noncritical driving-related information without diverting attention.
Lighting in a vehicle is about space and dimension, said Mahendra Dassanayake, Ford technical leader for Design, but there’s more to it.
“Lighting gives you a sense of orientation,” said Dassanayake. “It’s a unique combination of functionality and comfort. Lights, graphics and displays are critical to drivers; we need to make sure that information is presented to the customer in an effective way.”
Developing the ice blue color available in the ambient, or accent, lighting palette was critical, since it is a shade that can help keep drivers and passengers more alert. This makes it easier for a driver to absorb all the other messages coming from inside the vehicle.
The same balance has been used to make sure that the ambient colors available in the Ford Fusion enhance the driving experience. Ford researchers have tested how the lighting affects the vehicle’s interior from the driver’s perspective, checking the textures and materials under a multitude of lighting conditions to make sure that glare and reflection are limited on smooth surfaces and that eye strain would be minimized.
Starting with science
It all starts with how the brain recognizes light.
“The brain does not see color,” Dassanayake said. “What we call color of light is actually a form of electromagnetic energy with different wavelengths.
“Light is like a pond, with ripples as the wavelengths. These ripples form and reflect and interact with each other, just like a ray hits a surface and sends a signal and then another sends a signal, and the sensation between the two is what people perceive as blue or red or green.”
Certain levels or combinations of light trigger enzymes in the brain. Those enzymes cause emotional responses within the body – states we recognize as stress or calmness or happiness.
“The emotions are created based on the secretions of these enzymes that are associated with certain light wavelengths,” Dassanayake said. “There are certain triggers.”
So it’s not your imagination – color can affect how you feel. In fact, it affects everything from your buying choices to your blood pressure. For example:
· There are shades of yellow that stimulate parts of the brain, bringing clear-headed, decisive action
· Green, on the other hand, affects the nervous system, causing us to breathe slowly and deeply, helping the heart to relax by slowing the production of stress hormones
· Red – arguably the most attention-getting of colors – likely will evoke the strongest emotions, be that passion or anger
On the Ford Fusion, the palette is ice blue, purple, blue, orange, red, white and green. The palette allows the customer to set and change each color, depending on wants and needs.
With a seven-color palette, customers have several options. “We’re opening this up to let the customer decide,” Dassanayake said. “It’s offering them a choice.”
A car interior to remember
But there’s more to it: If the stylish silhouette of the Ford Fusion got heads turning in January on the floor of the North American International Auto Show, now it’s time to get to know what’s beyond the surface.
“Buying a car is very similar to dating,” said Interior Chief Designer Michael Arbaugh. “You saw the exterior of the new Fusion, and were drawn to it. Now when you see the interior, you realize it’s more than just looks – you want to be in a long-term relationship.”
The interior is airy and open, with a higher center console that’s been achieved by moving the instrument panel back toward the windshield. The console is complemented by comfortable, thinner seats that support the driver-centric theme, resulting in a cockpit-like layout that’s sporty and sexy while still completely functional.
“We kept the interior focused on the driver,” said Arbaugh. “We knew that our customers would be captivated by the driving experience, and we wanted to provide them with a sophisticated and harmonious ambience.”
Craftsmanship inside the Fusion is key. Dynamic structural elements throughout, like the real metal grills over the speakers, show that every detail of the vehicle has been aesthetically enhanced. Surfaces are softer to the touch, and nothing has been left to chance – even the volume knob is curved to better fit the customer’s fingers.
“The Fusion doesn’t just look sophisticated, upscale and high-quality,” said Arbaugh. “It feels that way, too.
“We think it’s the perfect package, one that will make drivers fall in love.”