The company’s approach to increasing the levels of control at a driver’s fingertips and increasing the number of in-car infotainment and telematics features, but without increasing driver distraction, looks very much like a tablet.
That said, Thomas Ingenlath, senior vice president design at Volvo Car Group, points out that “the new user interface is designed to create a smooth, logical and safe interaction between the driver and the car,” and that it “goes far beyond just putting a large tablet in the center of the dashboard. We have created a digital environment that is fully integrated in the car.”
The first piece of intelligent design is in where the tablet is located — integrated into the dashboard’s center stack in place of all the buttons and knobs for controlling the heating and the stereo and therefore eliminating visual clutter.
And like the tablet that over 40 percent of US consumers have at home, this touch screen responds to typical tablet commands such as swipes, taps and pinching to zoom.
However, unlike a normal Android device or an iPad, the display and interface have been specifically developed for ease of navigation and minimum distraction. Key functions are displayed as a stack of flexible tiles. These tiles expand when in use but other commands and functions, though minimized, remain visible on the screen.
“Having all functions present all the time makes the touch screen exceptionally user-friendly. The spacious layout also promotes smooth interaction without distraction,” says Ingenlath, who also claims that the interface and layout are so logical that using it “will be part of your muscle memory very quickly.”
One of the most frustrating things about many car companies’ digital dashboard interface systems is the need to toggle, scroll or flick between menu after menu in order to find the right command, function or setting. By keeping everything on view and within reach all of the time, Volvo eliminates this problem.
“The basic idea is to organize controls and information in a perfectly intuitive and user-friendly way. Everything is exactly where you expect it to be, making the drive more enjoyable, efficient, and safe,” says Ingenlath.
The new interface will be displayed for the first time at the Geneva Motor Show on March 4 but will be coming to the Volvo XC90 later this year.