How Skeuomorphism Can Make Electric Cars Safer MIT Technology Review

28 Апр 2014 | Author: | Комментарии к записи How Skeuomorphism Can Make Electric Cars Safer MIT Technology Review отключены
Acura Electric Cars

What Noise Does the Car Make?

It was a pleasant June day in Germany. I was picked up at my hotel and to the country, farmland on either of the narrow, two-lane road. walkers strode by, and every so a bicyclist passed.

We parked the car on the and joined a group of people up and down the road. “Okay, get I was told. “Close your and listen.” I did so and about a minute I heard a high-pitched whine, by a low humming sound: an automobile was As it came closer, I could tire noise. After the car had I was asked my judgment of the sound. We the exercise numerous times, and time the sound was different.

was going on? We were evaluating designs for BMW’s new electric

Electric cars are extremely The only sounds they come from the tires, the and occasionally from the high-pitched of the electronics. Car lovers really the silence. Pedestrians have feelings, but blind people are concerned. After all, cross streets in traffic by upon the sounds of vehicles.

how they know when it is to cross. And what is true for the might also be true for stepping onto the street distracted. If the vehicles don’t any sounds, they can kill.

The United States National Traffic Safety Administration that pedestrians are considerably likely to be hit by hybrid or electric than by those with an engine. The greatest danger is the hybrid or electric vehicles are slowly: they are almost silent.

Adding sound to a to warn pedestrians is not a new idea. For years, commercial trucks and equipment have had to make sounds when backing up. are required by law, presumably so drivers can use them to alert and other drivers when the arises, although they are used as a way of venting anger and instead.

But adding a continuous to a normal vehicle because it otherwise be too quiet is a challenge.

sound would you want? One of blind people suggested some rocks into the I thought this was brilliant. The would provide a natural set of rich in meaning and easy to

The car would be quiet until the started to turn. Then the would make natural, scraping sounds at low speeds, to the pitter-patter of falling stones at speeds. The frequency of the drops increase with the speed of the car the rocks ended up frozen the circumference of the rim, silent.

Which is fine: the sounds are not for fast-moving vehicles, because the tire noise is audible. The of sound when the vehicle is not would be a problem, however.

The divisions of automobile manufacturers the addition of artificial sounds be a wonderful branding opportunity, so car brand or model should its own unique sound that just the car personality the brand to convey. Porsche added to its electric car prototype to give it the throaty growl as its gasoline-powered Nissan wondered whether a automobile should sound tweeting birds.

Some thought all cars should the same, with standardized and sound levels, making it for everyone to learn how to interpret Some blind people they should sound cars—you know, gasoline

Skeuomorphic is the technical term for old, familiar ideas new technologies, even though no longer play a functional Skeuomorphic designs are often for traditionalists, and indeed the history of shows that new technologies and often slavishly imitate the old for no reason except that what people know how to do. automobiles looked like carriages without the horses is also why they were horseless carriages); early were designed to look wood; folders in computer systems often look paper folders, complete tabs.

One way of overcoming the fear of the new is to make it like the old. This is decried by design purists, but in it has its benefits in easing the transition the old to the new. It gives comfort and learning easier.

Existing models need only be rather than replaced. new forms emerge that no relationship to the old, but the skeuomorphic probably helped the transition.

it came to deciding what the new silent automobiles should those who wanted differentiation the day, yet everyone also that there had to be some It should be possible to determine the sound is coming from an to identify its location, direction, and No sound would be necessary the car was going fast enough, in because tire noise be sufficient. Some standardization be required, although with a lot of International standards committees their procedures.

Various unhappy with the normally speed of standards agreements and pressure from their started drafting legislation. scurried to develop appropriate hiring psychologists, Hollywood designers, and experts in psychoacoustics.

The States National Highway Safety Administration issued a set of along with a detailed of requirements, including sound spectra, and other criteria. The document is 248 pages. The document

This standard will that blind, visually-impaired, and pedestrians are able to detect and nearby hybrid and electric by requiring that hybrid and vehicles emit sound pedestrians will be able to in a range of ambient environments and acoustic signal content pedestrians will recognize as emitted from a vehicle. The standard establishes minimum requirements for hybrid and electric when operating under 30 per hour (km/h) (18 mph), the vehicle’s starting system is but the vehicle is stationary, and when the is operating in reverse. The agency a crossover speed of 30 km/h this was the speed at which the levels of the hybrid and electric measured by the agency approximated the levels produced by similar combustion engine vehicles. of Transportation, 2013.)

As I write sound designers are still The automobile companies, lawmakers, and committees are still at work. are not expected until 2014 or and then it will take time for the millions of vehicles the world to meet them.

principles should be used for the of electric vehicles (including The sounds have to meet criteria:

• Alerting. The sound indicate the presence of an electric

• Orientation . The sound will it possible to determine where the is located, roughly how fast it is and whether it is moving toward or from the listener.

• Lack of Because these sounds be heard frequently even in traffic and continually in heavy they must not be annoying. the contrast with sirens, and backup signals, all of which are to be aggressive warnings.

Such are deliberately unpleasant, but because are infrequent and relatively short in they are acceptable. The challenge for vehicles is to make sounds alert and orient, not annoy.

• versus individualization. Standardization is to ensure that all electric-vehicle can readily be interpreted. If they too much, novel sounds confuse the listener.

Individualization has two safety and marketing. From a point of view, if there many vehicles on the street, would allow them to be This is especially important at intersections.

From a marketing of view, individualization can ensure each brand of electric has its own unique characteristic, perhaps the quality of the sound to the brand

Stand still on a street and listen carefully to the vehicles you. Listen to the silent and to the artificial sounds of electric Do the cars meet the criteria?

After years of trying to cars run more quietly, who have thought that one day we spend years of effort and of millions of dollars to add sound?

Don is a cognitive science professor (UC San Northwestern) turned executive vice president) turned (IDEO Fellow) and author of 20 including   Living with and  The Design of Everyday . He can be found at .

Excerpted permission from   “ The Design of Things: Revised and Expanded ”   by Don Norman. Available from Books, a member of the Perseus Group. Copyright © 2013.

edition published by MIT Press.

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