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Designing An Automotive Dashboard Using Real Data

During Web Summit 2015, Topp teamed up with Ford to explore the future of automotive dashboards using data as a design medium.


We created a demo that was exhibited during the three days of the event. What we wanted to explore was using real data during the design phase of a project. Normally, a design is exposed to real data very late in the development process, when the development is happening at full speed, and redesigns are expensive and disruptive. Also, without the experience of having the data in first hand, you miss out on any design opportunities that the data itself provides.


In order to collect the data for this project, Mathias, our Innovation Technology lead, drove around the Western Harbour of Malmö in his Ford. While driving, Open XC gathered the data from the Ford. Simultaneously, a GoPro was used to video record the windshield point of view. 

The prototype set-up consisted of:

A large screen showing the video feed and the generated data, reproducing the live experience of driving. A second screen simulating the interactive dashboard, with a number of data connected widgets. 

Both the video and the dashboard were running in the same Noodl project, which synchronised the data and the video. This set-up simulates the feeling of being next to the driver, in context, while designing the experience.

‍‍Max and Michael designing in the context of the driver 


The overarching concept of the demo was "a smart and personalised dashboard”. With this concept in mind, some quick sketches and ideas were developed. At the same time, the Open XC data was integrated with Noodl. Since the demo had to be developed from scratch in one week (these demos tend to be last minute decisions), the focus had to be on demonstrating ideas, rather than detailed, well-tested automotive designs.

‍‍The OpenXC data stream integrated in Noodl. In this project, about 20 different data streams were exposed to the designer. 

The team was able to start experimenting with different designs, and immediately see how they behaved in a real driving situation. For a contextual and smart experience, this is extremely valuable, as these kinds of designs are very dependant on the data driving them.

‍The Dashboard UI with an RPM meter, speedometer and fuel indicator. The break lights are visualised as red gradients at the bottom of the screen.


As the team refined their designs, new opportunities were discovered by understanding what kind of data was available and how it behaved in relation to the driving experience observed in the video.

One example is the music widget; by tweaking threshold values and timings based on speed and acceleration, the music widget can adapt and change its visuals. When the driver stops at a red light, it presents more functionality, while during the drive, it´s briefer, therefore requiring a less precise interaction.


At Topp we are constantly exploring new ways of improving the design process. Using data as a design medium is getting increasingly important as experiences become more connected, smarter and contextual. 

The OpenXC demo co-created with Ford gave us an opportunity to explore this further, by integrating a stream of real vehicle data into Noodl, and letting our team design around it. Not only does it speed up and validate the designs, it also opens up for new opportunities, only discovered by experimenting with the data.






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CTO & Co-founder

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