Nissan

Defining the in-car experience for the next generation car

For their new luxury hybrid concept car, Nissan asked Method to create an interface to be unveiled at the 2012 New York Auto Show. Using previous work for Nissan as the foundation for the interface’s design, Method created a unique and beautiful interface and visual language appropriate for a luxury Nissan vehicle, with supreme usability and safety at its core. Method’s work gave Nissan’s stakeholders a clear understanding for what could be possible in their next generation of car interfaces.

Challenge

As one of the largest automakers in the world, Nissan prides itself on making cars that are “more efficient, more beautiful, more inspiring and more human.” To create such a remarkable product, Nissan continuously pushes the boundaries of collaboration by opening up their design approach for certain car models to design centers located outside of their home country of Japan. The result are cars that are equipped with the most innovative and exciting features, and prove successful in a diverse, global market.

Nissan asked Method to create the in-car system for a new, luxury hybrid concept car set to be unveiled at a 2012 auto show.

This interface would be an evolution of the work Method had done for Nissan previously, focusing on concepts that illustrate the possibilities for a next generation graphical user interface (GUI) across several platforms.

Approach

Using images of the the concept car’s interior for inspiration, Method began working on the interface. In-car systems pose several design challenges.

Design decisions not only need to differentiate the experience and integrate with existing hardware, but must also consider safety and driver versus passenger user experiences.

The Method team designed for an in-car experience that would allow the two users, driver and passenger, to easily find what they wanted and needed, from basics such as navigation and adjusting temperature to finding nearby restaurants and gas stations and an app store for future features.

While a touchscreen can offer an infinite canvas, Method needed to balance touchscreen usage with the hard buttons used by everyday drivers—the ones they can reference without taking their eyes off the road. For the touchscreen, the solution rested in the design of large, sophisticated touch zones sectioned off into distinct areas on the screen which require less gestural accuracy. Coupled with default hard buttons, the interface allows for easier and safer interaction.

Outcome

As the heart of the in-car experience, the concept car’s interface needed an aligned look-and-feel with both the interior and exterior of a luxury Nissan car. Directly inspired by the car’s existing features, such as lights and textured surfaces, as well as premium elements, such as leather, Method designed a unique and beautiful visual language appropriate in a high-end vehicle. Additionally, Method created a motion study to demonstrate how the concept car’s main interface would function as well as how it would elegantly integrate Nissan’s existing default applications and widgets.

Method’s articulation of the Nissan vision gave their stakeholders a clear understanding for the future of Nissan’s luxury cars.

These concepts guide internal and external efforts around aligning stakeholders and driving a product vision for the future of Nissan’s in-car computing experience. The concept car was developed and showcased in auto shows across the US in 2012.

More important for Infiniti, reaction to the LE’s design has been overwhelmingly positive. It delivers on Infiniti’s goal of creating a unique halo car that is luxury first and electric second, yet capitalizes on both.
Motor Trend
Infiniti has added a few techy touches to differentiate its electric offering; a dual-screen center infotainment unit features an improved version of the Leaf’s telematics system, and there’s an all-digital gauge cluster.
Car and Driver