Car heater timer interface - 2020

Completed: Spring 2013  Duration: 4 weeks  With: Daniel Lindh



The purpose of the course was to renew the design of the standard timer interface used for car heating. The main goal was to make the interface so intuitive that language was not necessary to understand it.



Final concept

Heating, charging - or both


Research - time representation


Time can be represented in many ways. In this project, it was categorized in three ways: discrete, continuous and linear style. Five users tested three paper mockups. None of the users spoke Swedish, and only one was used to winter driving and the concept of car pre-heating.



LINEAR - Time is represented by a linear motion from one point to another. It can be analog or digital, but it always has a beginning and an end.

DISCRETE/DIGITAL - Time is represented in a finite number of ways, like a digital watch or an old flip clock.  

ANALOG - Time can, in theory, be represented in infinite ways. This is, for example, done by a standard round analog clock.



User testing of mockups

Analog/Continuous style interface




+ Users had fun operating it


- Many users tried to change the actual time 
- Users did not immediately realize that they were supposed set the departure time with the knob 
- Problems with representing a 24 hour day


Linear style interface - Winner!


+ Very easy and fast to operate
+ Users found it unusual and fun
+ Representing time linearly did not pose a problem


- Lower accuracy (but still good enough)

Discrete/digital style interface

This concept was a copy of the model found at the campus parking

This concept was a copy of the model found at the campus parking



+ Multiple displays helped navigation
+ Standard design with few problems setting the departure time


- The fuse box was confusing
- Users did not get that it was designed to be placed between parkings spaces



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Further development
Car heater interface 2020 - The Pillow


During the car heater project it became clear that no matter what language, all users seemed to be disturbed by having to use a cable to connect their car. The aim was therefore extended to also develop a winter system that did not require a cord. The system had to be able to cope with snow, ice, and tractors plowing the streets to remove it.



Cordless system for winter conditions




The pillow can be inflated to touch any standard vehicle. The inflation helps to crack and remove ice and snow from the pillow.

           Inactive                 Standard vehicle          SUV/Truck

           Inactive                 Standard vehicle          SUV/Truck


Power is transferred through conductive surfaces on the pillow and the car. Driving on to the pillow ensures good contact.

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FIND ME! Nearby pillows glow when your electric/hybrid car wants to sleep