When digital graphic displays were available for use in cars, they were inserted in the dashboard, usually in the middle section. Before long, interior designers began to bring the display ‘out’, giving it the form of a tablet like an iPad slotted onto the dashboard. Perhaps this made installation easier and users would also have appreciated the familiar tablet shape.
However, Nissan designers who work on next-generation vehicles consider other aspects as they attempt to balance design, technology and utility. For the Ariya Concept, they chose a different path when developing the display.
This prioritized design and vision over the latest trends. Instead of a tablet, the all-electric crossover has a curved, two-screen display reminiscent of a wave. It adds to the sense of a ‘horizon’ throughout the car, from elements in the door all the way to the rear of the cabin.
The layout reflects Nissan’s new ‘Timeless Japanese Futurism’ design language, also expressed in the Ariya Concept’s unique frontal ‘shield’. But the horizontal design wasn’t chosen for its good looks alone. In addition to conveying information better for the human eye, the layout does so from a safer location — in the line of sight, closer to the road.
By matching the cabin’s horizon aesthetic, it becomes a seamless part of the dashboard. Nissan’s design team calls this engawa – the undefined space between where you are, and where you are going.
“The human eye naturally looks from side to side when driving,” explained Tomomichi Uekuri, Senior Manager of the engineering team involved in HMI (Human-Machine Interface). “People can see and absorb more information if it’s laid out horizontally. Peripheral vision works this way as well.”
The Ariya Concept’s display keeps driving information in an instrument cluster location similar to that of a traditional car, while displaying entertainment information, comfort controls and system status in the centre screen. Both are wrapped together in a sleek panel that flows seamlessly between driver and passenger.
Even though there are two screens, information can move or be swiped between them to create the feeling of a single display. For example, if you want your route directions and map in front of the steering wheel, they can appear there. They can also move to the centre, or disappear when no longer needed.
“The display’s wave construction is innovative and utilizes an ergonomic layout for both the meter display and the centre display, not only for visibility, but also allows the driver to easily reach the touch screen,” Uekuri said.
It took the design team many tries to arrive at the innovative display. The team built similar displays into a large black ‘box’ that they affectionately named ‘the Monolith’, a nod to the movie ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’. They chipped away, figuratively speaking, at the housing until it became what’s seen in the final concept car.
As a result, the sleek, seamless display looks like a natural, integrated part of the interior design – not a slab out of time and place.