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Summary:

Every day, millions of car owners drive home, fire up their video game of choice, and devote more time and energy trying to win gold coins, magic swords, and other virtual rewards than they do behind the wheel. So what if their cars also came with […]

insight-trophy1Every day, millions of car owners drive home, fire up their video game of choice, and devote more time and energy trying to win gold coins, magic swords, and other virtual rewards than they do behind the wheel. So what if their cars also came with game-like challenges, with virtual rewards linked to their real-world driving behavior?

That’s more or less the premise of the “Eco Assist” dashboard features on the 2010 Honda Insight hybrid. 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.

These elements are the brainchild of Yasunari Seki, chief engineer for the new Insight. In previous projects, he discovered that a car’s fuel consumption varied by about 20 percent in real-world conditions. “The variance came from different manners of acceleration by individual drivers,” Seki-san told me via email through a Honda publicist/translator. That inspired his idea for a system that not only provided fuel-efficiency feedback, but could “actually help drivers to learn a better way of driving through instruments and electronic indications.”

This general idea took on game-like features after he explained it to his Insight development team, comprised of many younger engineers “who had played with computer games since infancy,” as he put it. They went on to manufacture displays that leverage “the human instinct of taking up a challenge.” If this works as planned, it will translate into hybrid cars that are even more fuel efficient and cost effective than they are now, and an environment that’s even greener.

Hat tip: Jeremy Liew for Lightspeed Venture Partners’ blog.

  1. A new hot video game – Driving! « Challenge for Change Monday, March 2, 2009

    [...] 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 [...]

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  3. Driving the 2010 Honda Insight Will be like a Video Game, Sort of | EcoSilly Monday, March 2, 2009

    [...] [via Earth2Tech] [...]

  4. Increase Your Gas Mileage With Improved Driving | Pay4Rides Tuesday, March 3, 2009

    [...] step further with their upcoming new car, the Insight.  This story on Earth2Tech discusses how the “Eco Assist” dashboard turns fuel efficiency into a video game.  They compare this to a Wii Fit for cars where drivers are rewarded with positive feedback for [...]

  5. 7 Ways to Cut Fuel Consumption With IT « Earth2Tech Thursday, March 5, 2009

    [...] car companies are seeing the benefits of digital interfaces that can promote fuel economy. Honda told us recently about its “Eco Assist” dashboard for the 2010 Honda Insight hybrid. The Insight’s dashboard has a [...]

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  7. Honda Insight Cracks Open Prius Stronghold — Can Startups Step In? Monday, May 11, 2009

    [...] to accelerate and decelerate for maximum fuel efficiency. As Wagner James Au explained in an Earth2Tech post about the feature earlier this year, “Like a role-playing game, the driver’s behavior is [...]

  8. GreenRoad Fuels Up With More VC Cash Friday, May 29, 2009

    [...] Other companies have caught on that fleet owners and consumers are interested in receiving more information about their driving behavior, meaning startups like GreenRoad could have a hard time carving out a niche as automakers integrate the tools into their vehicles. Honda developed a video game-like system called “Eco Assist” for its new Insight that’s meant to not only provide fuel-efficiency feedback, but also “actually help drivers to learn a better way of driving through instruments and electronic indications,” as chief engineer Yasunari Seki told us earlier this year. [...]

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  10. tech-ink.net » What we can learn from Nike’s Persuasive Technology: Wednesday, June 24, 2009

    [...] from smoking-cessation to interventions for problem drinkers to exercise programs.” The Prius dashboard encourages better driving for high fuel efficiency. Recently there’s been some folks creating [...]

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