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©2012 U.S. Auto Scene®
march 5, 2012
Ford Lets Light and Color Shine
With New Fusion Interior Option
by Gerald Scott
  Ford Motor Co. has put some serious research into the science of using light and color in car interiors and that has manifested itself inside the Ford Fusion of late.
 Two Ford experts – Interior Chief Designer Michael Arbaugh and Mahendra Dassanayake, Ford technical leader for design – gave a talk entitled, “The Science and Design of Lighting” at the Product Development Center in Dearborn recently.
 They said that research shows that a person’s attention span is limited, and lighting can play a key role in providing a driver with critical and non-critical, driving-related information, all without diverting attention from the task at hand.
 Lighting in a vehicle is about space and dimension, Dassanayake said.
 “Lighting gives you a sense of orientation. It’s a unique combination of functionality and comfort. Lights, graphics and displays are critical to drivers; we need to make sure that information is presented to the customer in an effective way.”
 In the case of the Fusion interior, developing the “ice blue” color in the ambient, or accent, lighting palette was critical, since it is a shade that can help keep drivers and passengers more alert.
 This makes it easier for a driver to absorb all the other messages coming from inside the vehicle.
 The same balance has been used to make sure that the ambient colors available in the Ford Fusion enhance the driving experience.
 Ford researchers have tested how the lighting affects the vehicle’s interior from the driver’s perspective, checking the textures and materials under a multitude of lighting conditions to make sure that glare and reflection are limited on smooth surfaces and that eye strain would be minimized.
 Ford research further says that it all starts with how the brain recognizes light.
 “The brain does not see color,” Dassanayake said. “What we call color of light is actually a form of electromagnetic energy with different wavelengths.
 “Light is like a pond, with ripples as the wavelengths. These ripples form and reflect and interact with each other, just like a ray hits a surface and sends a signal and then another sends a signal, and the sensation between the two is what people perceive as blue or red or green.”
 Certain levels of light actually trigger enzymes in the brain. Those enzymes then cause emotional responses within the body – states of being we recognize as stress or calmness or happiness.
 Added Dassanayake, “The emotions are created based on the secretion of these enzymes that are associated with certain light wavelengths. There are certain triggers.”
 So, it’s not your imagination – Ford research says color   really can affect how you feel. In fact, it affects everything from your buying choices to your blood pressure.
 On the Ford Fusion, the palette is ice blue, purple, blue, orange, red, white and green. The palette allows the customer to set and change each color, depending on wants and needs.
 With a seven-color palette, customers have several options. “We’re opening this up to let the customer decide,” Dassanayake said. “It’s offering them a choice.”
 Meanwhile, Chief Interior Designer Arbaugh said that craftsmanship inside the Fusion is key. Dynamic structural elements throughout, like the real metal grills over the speakers, show that every detail of the vehicle has been aesthetically enhanced.
 More specifically, he said, surfaces are softer to the touch and virtually nothing has been left to chance – even the volume knob is curved to better fit the customer’s fingers.
 “Buying a car is very similar to dating,” said Ford’s Arbaugh. “You saw the exterior of the new Fusion and were drawn to it. Now, when you see the interior, you realize that it’s more than just looks – you want to be in a long-term relationship.”
 The interior is airy and open, with a high center console that’s been achieved by moving the instrument panel back toward the windshield.
 “We kept the interior focused on the driver,” said Arbaugh. “We knew that our customers would be captivated by the driving experience, and we wanted to provide them with a sophisticated and harmonious ambience.”
2013 Fusion offers customer seven different interior lighting options including ice blue, purple, blue, orange, red, white and green.
Ford Interior Chief Designer Michael Arbaugh discussed the automaker’s use of interior lighting and color at the Product Development Center in Dearborn recently.
Ford used the 2013 Fusion as a test-bed for a series of color and neutral interior lighting tests.
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