Cars have come a long way from the days when you’d click the radio out of the dashboard and take it with you. Now, wipers and lights come on automatically, speakers can be linked to your smartphone, and – if you drive a higher end model – touchscreens allow you to control all the things that once required buttons to be pushed and levers to be pulled. Car dashboards are gradually leaving the analogue world behind in favour of an experience that’s more reminiscent to using a smartphone than operating a vehicle.
Paul Woods, CEO and CCO of design consultancy Edenspiekermann, has led branding and UX projects for automotive brands including Mercedes and Faraday Future – which he describes as “essentially the Batmobile, or something Tony Stark would build” – and understands the challenges of of designing good user interfaces for cars.
According to him, automotive companies are in a state of rapid digital acceleration – catalysed by challenger brands such as Tesla, as well as a new consumer appetite for electric vehicles. “What we’re seeing is a byproduct of that – the need for more technology in cars,” he tells CR. “If we’re talking about an electric vehicle, you naturally need that higher level of technology.”