by Sam Livingstone
Nissan says that information is creating a new relationship between people and their vehicles, and that the Ideo is a network vehicle for interactive connection.
Following on from Ford's 24/7 concept cars of last year, the Ideo focuses on the capabilities of electronic network communications more so than the primary task of a car to transport people from A to B. This is why the car features an IP surface that is almost completely covered in a 1170mm wide and 280mm deep 'high interface screen' that conveys information to the occupants about their local area, as well as e-mail, navigation and vehicle information.
The display is constantly updated from a vast sum of information actually available around town in a manner similar to surfing the internet, and takes the form of text, maps, moving images and spoken word. These visuals are presented in varying sizes and positioned on the screen according to the systemís understanding of the priorities of the user for that information.
A scenario Nissan describes for the vehicle is that the user has preselected a preference for entertainment information and that as the car approaches a movie theatre, information such as what film is being screened, what the seat availability is and what parking spaces are free, is presented. The users can then book a film, reserve a parking space or just book mark the information to return to later.
For navigation purposes the vehicle could display maps of different scales and even show images taken from a helicopter of the route they are taking that illustrates in great depth their imediate environ. Fundamentally the car has been designed to 'be a means to discover something new' and not just a humble means of transport.
To facilitate this role of this 'net vehicle', the design majors on providing a large and simple interior space with superb visability. The wheels are pushed to the corners of the car to maximise interior space and the intrusion of the interior controls are minimised, with the door mounted steering wheel even folding into the door when the car is not in motion to provide uncluttered vision of the front screen. Secondary screens in the back of the front seats supplement the main screen for rear seat occupants.
The aesthetic of the car is reminiscant of Bertone's Filo presented at the Geneva Motor Show earlier this year, with clean and sharply defined surfaces and the monospace's arched roof line tapering to the rear. But the car is a unique design with plastic corner elements that act like book ends in topping and tailing the passenger cell succintly and incorporate elegant lighting units that emit a soft glow to welcome the user on their approach to the car.
This concept from Nissan illustrates how the role of the urban car is changing into a product that provides the means for people to experience their surrounding environment, and not just travel through it. And in doing this it illustrates how the future car customer is likely to have a different set of priorities about what they want their vehicles to do for them, as a result of living in an increasingly digital information rich world.