Impact of Gaming on Business Dashboard Design

Today’s Dashboards By Example post examines the influence that video games may be having on data visualizations used on digital dashboards.

Advances in the design of business intelligence dashboards can come from many different places and reflect many different interests. When the Ford Motor Company and one of its design firms, Smart Design, studied the segment of customers really into getting the fuel efficiency game, they discovered that this crowd treated their passion for getting high miles per gallon (MPG) literally as a game! Their “scores”, measured by the miles per gallon calculation, were the source of bragging rights and sense of accomplishment.

Leveraging this discovery into a design element, the team incorporated a “fuel efficiency game” into the prototype dashboard for the new Ford Fusion Hybrids.

Take a look at this screenshot of the concept dashboard and pay extra attention to the right side of the image:

prototype dashboard with green vine for fuel efficiency data visualization

Notice the leaves of the vine to the right of the MPG guage? Here’s how the game works. If you drive the car in a manner that wastes gas, the vine withers and the leaves disappear. If you drive in a fuel efficient way, the vine grows and sprouts more leaves!

Here’s how it was explained by businessweek.com as reported by infosthetics.com (see Ford’s New Prototype Dashboard Concept).

User research discovered how drivers get obsessed with achieving a “high score”, that is the lowest fuel usage. Therefore, fuel efficiency is represented by an “eye-catching rendering of curling vines blooming with green leaves: It’s more than a decorative element; it’s a data-visualization tool intended to change the way people drive. If a driver wastes gas by aggressively accelerating or slamming on the brakes, for example, the vine withers and leaves disappear. More leaves appear if individuals drive more economically.” Even more, this “data visualization” dashboard will be available standard on all new Ford Fusion Hybrids.

Proposing such an abstract, let’s say quite artistic (vine leaves? in a car?), data display is quite surprising. Is this the resurrection of the ambient display concept?

Interesting, no? What do you think of making a “game” out of data visualization? Doesn’t this angle make it more possible to encourage desired behaviours from your dashboard users?

Tags: Dashboard design, ambient dashboards, information visualization