Transport Theory

Eyesight troubles? New Ford interiors to feature bolder fonts

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Having a hard time reading your car's dashboard? Hoping to attract aging Baby Boomers, Ford plans to roll out cars with bolder display fonts

The baby boomer generation has always been a prime consumer demographic, and as the group ages, many companies are adjusting their products according.

Ford has been accounting for the changing needs of this prime consumer base for years. In 1999, the company designed a "third-age suit" (see photo) that would allow its engineers to better understand the physical limitations of older drivers.

This video demonstrates the remarkable suit and its effects on mobility and vision.

"For the first time, people age 65 and over will outnumber children under the age of 5," said Ford in a recent statement. "It's a transformation that's changing the world, along with all kinds of products in it.

Now, Ford hopes a new feature will attract older customers - Baby Boomers whose eyesight is starting to deteriorate - by altering the display fonts in some of their car models.

Fonts will be thicker and up to 40 percent wider on interior displays (see photo). The change will be implemented in the Ford Edge and Ford Explorer models as early as next year. The new displays will be rolled out in other models after that.

The decision to make the fonts bolder was based on a legibility study that Ford conducted using both younger subjects (Ford engineers) and older subjects (retirees). According to the experiment, even minor changes to font size and thickness made the graphics inside the cars easier for all subjects to recognize, regardless of age.

While the change is sure to please some,  SmartMoney writer Catey Hill suggests that Ford also runs the risk of offending a generation that does not generally like to think of itself as 'old'.

What do you think? Is this a smart move for the automaker, or will the bolder fonts alienate a lucrative consumer group?

Thumbnail photo: pcfishhk/Flickr

Channtal Fleischfresser

Contributing Editor

Contributing Editor Channtal Fleischfresser has worked for The Economist, WNET/Channel 13, Al Jazeera English, Wall Street Journal and Associated Press. She holds degrees from the University of Pennsylvania and the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. She is based in New York. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure