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A new hot video game – Driving!

2 March 2009
Prius energy consumption dashboard (Creative Commons photo by geognerd on Flickr)
Creative Commons photo by geognerd on Flickr

It’s probably good that I don’t own a Prius at the moment because I become completely transfixed by the dashboard display!  It’s very cool to be able to see real-time what kind of mileage one’s car is getting.  Studies have shown that this kind of feedback can help modify behavior when people start competing with themselves to see what kind of numbers they can get.

Now Yasunari Seki, chief engineer for Honda’s 2010 Insight Hybrid, is taking that system one step further – by turning it into a game! When Seki discovered that a car’s fuel consumption varied by up to 20% in real-world conditions, he decided to create feedback that would include incentives for drivers to change their habits.

Much the way many video games have heads-up displays that change color according to the condition of a character’s health; the Insight’s speedometer readout has a crescent icon that changes hue based on the driver’s acceleration/deceleration rate, glowing green when it’s most fuel efficient, but turning blue as it becomes wasteful. Like a role-playing game, the driver’s behavior is also tallied over time, and displayed symbolically — here, in the form of an ivy-ringed trophy achievement that a driver can gradually unlock with green-friendly driving. It’s sort of like Wii Fit, but for cars.

Sounds fun to me!


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