Environmental Controls: Spotlight on Volvo

I rode in a colleague’s new Volvo the other day and I love the environmental controls. The button lights up when active, showing where the airflow is going. Notice how the fan speed control is integrated into air direction display so they each add information to the other.

Compare to the older Volvo buttons, which had a similar theme but not quite as pleasing. It also lacks the integration of the fan speed.

Vent controls on an older model Volvo

And Ford:

New Ford vent controls

Last, the controls I just had on a rented Toyota Corolla in Las Vegas:

New Toyota vent controls

In this Toyota, you press the “mode” button and it cycles through an LCD to show you where the air will flow. I found it hard to see and I had to infer that “mode” was the right button. I was never able to figure out these controls while driving and had to ask my passenger to work them for me.*

In sum, I like that the Volvo buttons allow for all combination (feet/torso, feet/defroster, torso/defroster). This is something I always wanted in my previous cars. I also rate it high on the “emotional” side of design.. it looks great!

*As a side note, the entire frame for this interface glows light blue, thus ruining my night vision and was tiring to have in the periphery while driving. I prefer the all red dashboard of my 2003.

6 thoughts on “Environmental Controls: Spotlight on Volvo”

  1. Not sure if its because I´m coming through my feed reader but for some reason I haven´t been able to see any of your embedded images in your latest posts. They work just fine when I click to see them in fullscreen, is there something up with your GD-image processing maybe?

    Enjoying your posts, so keem em coming!

    1. I’ve noticed that too with some posts (when viewing in Google Reader). I’m not sure what it could be but we’ll look into it. Thanks for reading!

  2. You should check out the BAD version/rip off this design in some current Hyundais.

    They use the iconic “person” but instead of the independent portions of the body changing the flow of the air to that set of vents, it just cycles through which set of vents are on.

    The worst part is, the head looks and feels like a button, glows like the “body” toggle switch, but does nothing!

  3. I’d love to! Do you have a link to the model or a picture of the interface? My quick Hyundai search didn’t turn up anything but the old-style dial controls.

    1. I’ll have to try to get a picture the next time it comes up in rent-a-car roulette!

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