Ford is doing its part to make the highway a more friendly place, and it may not be obvious unless you’re in oncoming traffic.
Ford lighting designers and engineers say the irritable mental state that often accompanies a traffic-clogged and horn honking commute is, at least partially, due to poor automobile lighting and how humans cope to it psychologically.
“We know that gradients and homogeneity affect people’s moods,” says Arun Kumar, Ford optics expert and design engineer. “We also know the eye wants to focus on contrast changes and other inconsistencies in lighting – it’s an automatic function of the brain that can irritate mood.”
Ford’s latest LED lighting innovation, Crystal Diamond Light, first debuted on the Ford F-150 pick-up. The company says it improves efficiency up to 62 percent while lowering cost. It also miniaturizes the fixture, an aesthetic desired by designers. The diamond-like facets of the lens offer even, broad distribution of light.
“The efficiency of this lighting not only helps to stabilize the psyche, but also has the potential to affect global environmental savings,” Kumar says. “As we democratize this lighting innovation to a broader audience, the impact could be significant, with millions of gallons of fuel potentially saved on a global scale.”
Consideration of human physiology is also a factor with interior lighting, including choosing a color that is pleasing to the eye, one that provides a higher quality of lighting, with good contrast for twilight and night vision. And because men and women see some colors differently, Shannon O’Day, Ford interactions and ergonomics core engineer, says the shade had to be universally accepted by the color cones of both sexes.
“Another obvious issue was to design for people who have color deficiencies,” O’Day adds. “You can’t use a deep saturated red or green for dash lighting because those are colors people most typically have problems with. Eight percent of the global population has this issue, and most are male.”
Red and green are typically reserved for emergency buttons, such as hazard lighting.
Designers and engineers opted to light the Ford vehicle dashboard in Ice Blue, a color that is more easily seen and perceived as brighter by the human eye, and one that O’Day says “cuts through the clutter.”
While Ice Blue is the color of choice for illuminating the Ford dashboard, an available feature for many Ford vehicles allows customers to change ambient lighting colors with in-car controls.
Still, it’s the physiology that matters most to designers.
“Color is one among many factors that make lighting functional and pleasing,” O’Day says. “In the end, it’s really about the eye, what it perceives, and how it affects the driver.”