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MIT Researchers Show Dash Font Choice Affects Distraction

Unknown Lamer posted about 2 years ago | from the grotesque-fonts-lead-to-grotesque-crashes dept.

Transportation 147

bdking writes "A typeface family commonly found on the devices installed in many modern cars is more likely to cause drivers to spend more time looking away from the road than an alternative typeface tested in two studies, according to new research from MIT's AgeLab." It seems that the closed letter forms of Grotesque type faces require slightly more time to read than open letter forms of Humanist type faces, just enough that it could be problematic at highway speeds.

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Wait... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41460891)

What does this have to do with niggers?

Propz to GNAA

So True (1)

ziggit (811520) | about 2 years ago | (#41460907)

I just bought a new car a few months ago, and I've definitely noticed my driving style is entirely different now.

I'm all about a simple dash, a stick shift, and few distractions; driving is one of the few times that I can sit down and focus non stop on something.
In my new car, I find my self having to fight bad habits of fiddling with the radio and all the extra gizmos my car has.

Re:So True (1)

ballpoint (192660) | about 2 years ago | (#41462045)

I have the same experience each time I switch to a new car. Don't worry. You will adapt.

Just don't text/SMS! (4, Insightful)

fantomas (94850) | about 2 years ago | (#41460917)

Well it wouldn't matter if you weren't texting while doing 70 on the highway! :-)

ok, I am sure the article is about the fonts on the dashboard or something like that but really, the number of drivers I see texting while they are rolling a ton of metal along at high speeds is ridiculous.

Re:Just don't text/SMS! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41461003)

I wholeheartedly agree!

Re:Just don't text/SMS! (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41461341)

I am blind for most font differences. I can not even see difference between hyped "MS core" fonts and "ugly KDE" fonts.

Only time when I can see difference is when I swap them rapily in LibreOffice or when I change konsole to use bitmap font without smoothing as by default it use smoothed fonts.

It is just ironic that I do lots of graphical arts for my profession, but when it comes to fonts, I am totally blind to see the "huge difference". Thats why I always ask someone else to pick fonts for me.

Re:Just don't text/SMS! (3, Funny)

Dupple (1016592) | about 2 years ago | (#41462153)

Well it wouldn't matter if you weren't texting while doing 70 on the highway! :-)

I'm doing 70 and commenting on /. you insensitive clod!

Re:Just don't text/SMS! (1)

Cro Magnon (467622) | about 2 years ago | (#41463671)

I am too! What could go wr@#$ SIGNAL LOST

Re:Just don't text/SMS! (1)

Shavano (2541114) | about 2 years ago | (#41462781)

seriously, there should be a $1000 fine for texting while operating a moving vehicle. Same as for throwing burning refuse (cigarette butt) out the window. OK, maybe it's not as bad as the cigs, but it's on the same scale of total disregard for safety and common sense.

Re:Just don't text/SMS! (1, Insightful)

smooth wombat (796938) | about 2 years ago | (#41462957)

Don't bother. A majority of people on here don't believe in personal responsibility. They believe they can do whatever they want without consequence because someone else will pick up the tab.

So what we're saying is... (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41460931)

Serif fonts are easier to read than sans-serif fonts?

Who would have thought it!

Bloody graphic designers. They'll join the lawyers, bankers, patent trolls, advertising shills, dodgy stock traders and so on up against the wall when the revolution comes!!!

Hmmmmm - its going to be an effin big wall, or we're going to have to operate in shifts to clear the backlog.......

Re:So what we're saying is... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41461229)

I thought it was serif fonts are easier to read on paper, but sans-serif fonts are easier to read on a screen.

Re:So what we're saying is... (3, Interesting)

digitig (1056110) | about 2 years ago | (#41461303)

I thought that was a matter of screen resolution. At the resolutions commonly available when most studies were done, serifs would have been hard to render accurately and consistently. Heck, even on the screen and size I am using to type this, if I switch to Times New Roman the anti-aliasing struggles with the serifs on 's' and 'n' with the result that they look blurry.

I think the lesson here is (2)

mozumder (178398) | about 2 years ago | (#41461267)

Eurostile is a pretty terrible font.

Re:I think the lesson here is (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41461431)

Apparently they haven't learned though, as they've used it for the footer

Re:I think the lesson here is (-1, Flamebait)

ctrl-alt-canc (977108) | about 2 years ago | (#41461841)

And Eurozone is a pretty terrible zone to live in.

Re:I think the lesson here is (3, Interesting)

Dogtanian (588974) | about 2 years ago | (#41462343)

Eurostile is a pretty terrible font

Nothing wrong with Eurostile for what it is, just that in this case (where *any* tradeoff between legibility and style- however minor- might have an effect), it's probably not the best choice.

In fact, I'd say the fact that it's still "functional-looking" enough is how you could imagine car manufacturers using it in a dashboard whereas (e.g.) a black letter, or cursive/joined-up "handwriting" font would be much worse, but obviously so (and hence not likely to be chosen and hence not an issue here).

It seems that the closed letter forms of Grotesque type faces require slightly more time to read than open letter forms of Humanist type faces

This is true but incomplete; the study used Eurostile [wikipedia.org] (apparently a Square Grotesque font), which is clearly less legible and a stronger example of those claimed issues than Helvetica [wikipedia.org] . Helvetica is still a "Grotesque" type font).

I'm not saying that Helvetica is the perfect choice, or as good as a Humanist font, just that I suspect it doesn't suffer from this problem to anything like the same extent as Eurostile.

Re:I think the lesson here is (1)

Dogtanian (588974) | about 2 years ago | (#41462389)

(Correction; second quote above is from article, not GP post)

Re:So what we're saying is... (0)

drkim (1559875) | about 2 years ago | (#41461405)

Serif fonts are easier to read, especially large blocks of text. The serifs "lead your eyes" from one letter to the next, and help your eye group the words.

San-serif fonts are OK for headlines and displays (as are decorative fonts) but are a little hard to read quickly in large chunks.

Try this simple test: if you have access to an eReader, set up a san-serif font, medium small, and read a large block of a book you've never read before. Now, switch to a serif font, and read another large block of text you've never read before. You will see the difference.

Actually, I wish /. would use a serif font for the body text.

Re:So what we're saying is... (4, Informative)

Anonymous Brave Guy (457657) | about 2 years ago | (#41461657)

Serif fonts are easier to read, especially large blocks of text. The serifs "lead your eyes" from one letter to the next, and help your eye group the words.

Actually, that's an old theory that has been solidly debunked [alexpoole.info] on both counts at this point.

For a start, based on experimental research, we know that people don't actually move their eyes continuously across the text as we read. Instead, our eyes make short jumps called saccades, fixating on one point on the line and then another a few characters further along. That immediately makes any argument based on serifs "guiding" anything suspect.

Re:So what we're saying is... (3, Insightful)

BetterSense (1398915) | about 2 years ago | (#41462891)

I tried to read you post, but all I got was *fap fap*saccades*fap fap*

Our eyes may use saccades at the hardware level, but we compose images with our brains' DSP (ASP?). The fact that the eyes jump around is interesting but means approximately nothing.

I think it's safe to say that nobody sees the world in jerky motion from eyeballs moving jerkily. For that matter, the high-resolution fovea in the human eye only subtends a few degrees of arc, but you just never notice, because the brain has heavy-duty processing power that synthesizes a high-resolution picture of the world through image-stitching. You can only focus at once distance at a time, but we don't really notice that either. We have stereo vision which means that we see double-images of things, but we don't really notice any double-images. We can see our noses 24 hours a day, but don't notice that either. If you want to try a fun experiment, go into an absolutely dark room, stare straight ahead, and fire a camera flash. Do not move your eyes. You will see a bright, very realistic image of the entire room for many seconds if you can avoid moving (saccading?) your eyes. You see the perfectly bright room, even in the absolute dark, because if you don't move your eyes, it's probably still accurate. As soon as you move your eyes, though, the image disappears, as your brain flushes it like cache data that can no longer be trusted. Sort of a visual cortex version of copy-on-write.

Typeface design is visual art. Visual artists have known for hundreds of years that certain shapes are pleasing, and how certain lines can draw your attention to certain features of an image, and how certain colors can influence mood. I'm sure it's all completely bunk though, after all, I read on Slasdot about saccades, so now I can dismiss another huge swath of scary subjective human experience and fence it safely out of the lonely introverted enclave that is my nerd existence.

Re:So what we're saying is... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41463409)

This is why strobes in a dark room are so overwhelming. Your brain holds on to the old image, and then jumps to the new image when the strobe fires again. A very interesting and disturbing effect depending on the context. This is also why many police flashlights now feature a strobe mode.

Re:So what we're saying is... (4, Informative)

Anonymous Brave Guy (457657) | about 2 years ago | (#41463423)

Perhaps you didn't notice the link I posted to Alex Poole's site, where one of the first paragraphs says "In 2003 as part of my master’s degree I reviewed over 50 empirical studies in typography and found a definitive answer" [emphasis added]? It then goes on to describe that work in a lot more detail, complete with numerous citations. I've read some of Alex's work, and I've read quite a few of the other pieces of works he cites. You obviously haven't, but hey, if you prefer to trust in "another huge swath of scary subjective human experience" rather than empirical data collected across a broad set of scientific experiments, knock yourself out.

However, I suggest that you would be more convincing to others if, instead of attempting exactly the kind of unsourced pseudo-science you seem to be accusing me of and then throwing in a strawman or two at the end, you actually bothered to read the work I pointed to before. We don't have to guess at how these effects work or appeal to old wives' tales from the 1800s. We have detailed, properly conducted experiments using techniques like eye tracking and even updating text on a screen as fast as someone is actually reading it to determine what we really do see and how much our brain is filling in for us. Here's another page [microsoft.com] that describes some more experiments on related topics, which provide further examples of how the people researching this field reach the kinds of conclusions they do.

Re:So what we're saying is... (1)

csumpi (2258986) | about 2 years ago | (#41462773)

Serif fonts are not easier to read. The serifs were added to fix an issue with the old printing process, namely that the printing press would punch wholes in the paper at sharp edges of letters.

Re:So what we're saying is... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41463867)

Yeah, like the printing press used to engrave [wikimedia.org] Trajan's column? Dumbass.

Re:So what we're saying is... (1)

jbengt (874751) | about 2 years ago | (#41462985)

To me, sans serif fonts are much better looking and easier to read. Could be, it's because my eyes are getting old and the serifs add to the fuzz. YMMV.

Nice find but.... (1)

abhi2012 (2739367) | about 2 years ago | (#41460933)

That's an interesting find but in my personal opinion when it comes to driving I think the more voice based it goes, the better it is. Looking at dials and screens is always distracting and more often than not can prove fatal.

Re:Nice find but.... (2)

Belial6 (794905) | about 2 years ago | (#41460989)

When it comes to driving, the sooner humans are not doing it the better. There will always be distractions. Even the lack of external distractions just creates internal ones.

Re:Nice find but.... (4, Interesting)

clickety6 (141178) | about 2 years ago | (#41461835)

Too true, What bugs me these days is how many TV documentaries feature interviews with people who are driving cars. Stop talking to them and let them concentrate on driving. If you want to interview them, hire a bloody studio and sit them on a couch to do it - not while they're trying to guide 2 tonnes of metal through a busy intersection in town at 30 miles per hour!

How does this affect web design ? (2)

Alain Williams (2972) | about 2 years ago | (#41460951)

So what font should you choose on your web site ? I note some research that Making things hard to read 'can boost learning' [bbc.co.uk] ; so should I use a serif or sans-serif font for my web site ? I suppose it depends on the purpose of my web site.

Hebrew script (1)

Kupfernigk (1190345) | about 2 years ago | (#41461015)

Taking things to extremes...anyone who bothers to read your site will either be educated and Jewish, a theologian or extremely determined. Very high learning and retention rate.

Hebrew or Babylonian? (1)

Arker (91948) | about 2 years ago | (#41461105)

Either one will work in terms of selecting a more educated, judisk, and desireable readership.

But it's still a very important question, which?

Web "design" (-1, Flamebait)

Arker (91948) | about 2 years ago | (#41461093)

Well let me first say I approach your question based on the assumption you arent a total imbecile and understand that HTML is a semantic markup language, not a layout language.

Ok, now that the roaring laughter has dropped to a dull roar, let's try again. Your freaking website has absolutely no business trying to dictate fonts you fracking moron!

In all freaking seriousness, if you are asking us what FONT to use on your WEBSITE you do not understand the meaning of the word FONT or the meaning of the word WEBSITE or quite possibly you dont understand either one. I dont even know what to tell you. Your ignorance is truly EPIC. Please CODAD, thanks.

On your basis (1)

Kupfernigk (1190345) | about 2 years ago | (#41461119)

we would have to think that 99% of website designers are fscking morons, and the other 1% is either in academia or unemployed.

Microsoft's greatest success was to ensure that the typesetting got done by the document creator and not the document viewer, thus preserving the market for the world's most unnecessary program - Word - forever. Raging against it is a bit too late now.

Re:On your basis (1)

Arker (91948) | about 2 years ago | (#41461203)

Yes, well over 99% of working website designers are absolute morons. This cannot possibly be in doubt, within the circle of persons who have actually attempted to use a popular website within the last several years it is so obvious as to be non-controversial.

Re:On your basis (1)

mikael_j (106439) | about 2 years ago | (#41461297)

I think you're confusing the designers and developers with the dilbert-esque bosses.

It's amazing how little some PHB who wants to leave his mark on something has to do in order to completely destroy it, at least when it comes to anything design-related (for some reason a lot of people who would never dream of poking at a machine design and saying "I think we need a slightly larger cog here because I like large cogs" think that when it comes to design you can change the individual components without the whole thing falling apart).

Throw a few marketing guys into the mix and suddenly the easy-to-follow and user friendly design has been butchered completely (admittedly marketing guys tend to be a bit more understanding of design-related matters but they tend to fail miserably when it comes to more general UX issues.

Re:On your basis (1)

foniksonik (573572) | about 2 years ago | (#41462719)

Get those marketing types involved earlier during concepting. Have them provide real copy, not just Lorem text.

Then you'll know what you are in for earlier, can design around this requirement. Better yet discuss the merits of the copy and find out what they want to accomplish (SEO ?) and work on ways to also have a good UXD.

Re:How does this affect web design ? (1)

Rosco P. Coltrane (209368) | about 2 years ago | (#41461329)

I hear top students use textbooks printed using the dingbats typeface.

Re:How does this affect web design ? (3, Insightful)

Rainer (42222) | about 2 years ago | (#41461557)

So what font should you choose on your web site ?

Your user's preferred font in their preferred size and with their preferred colors.

Re:How does this affect web design ? (1)

foniksonik (573572) | about 2 years ago | (#41462763)

That is what user stylesheets are for. Fonts can be expressive and are an improvement over textual graphics. Take responsibility for yourself, don't expect every website to cater to your needs.

p,a,em,i,b,ul,li,div,block,h1,h2,h3,h4,h5,h6 { font-family: [your font]!important; }

Drop that in your user stylesheet.

Also, Comic Sans linked to road rage (1)

Arancaytar (966377) | about 2 years ago | (#41460959)

(...)

Just use Comic Sans (5, Funny)

CodeheadUK (2717911) | about 2 years ago | (#41460971)

Everyone loves Comic Sans.

Then all drivers will be happy, smiley and give way to old ladies.

Re:Just use Comic Sans (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41461833)

This guy must have Comic Sans all over his dashboard then... and face: http://youtu.be/RcpSGB3odyU [youtu.be]

Re:Just use Comic Sans (4, Funny)

L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) | about 2 years ago | (#41462047)

Comic Sans is for schools and community newsletters. Pro desktop publishers and graphics designers use Papyrus [papyruswatch.com]

I feel lied to (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41460979)

Did anybody else think this post was going to be about hyphens?

Re:I feel lied to (1)

jones_supa (887896) | about 2 years ago | (#41461531)

At first peek at the title I thought this was about the Ubuntu dash. *facepalm*

Re:I feel lied to (1)

Zaiff Urgulbunger (591514) | about 2 years ago | (#41462017)

/me raises embarrassed hand!

Heres MY Research (1)

Spectrumanalyzer (2733849) | about 2 years ago | (#41460999)

My research shows that signs with BOOBS in them, whether this is just women showing off their BOOBS on the roadside (which is, for some odd reason, quite common in Denmark)...is the main source of distraction. ...Now, show me a typeface that will affect YOUR distraction away from the BOOB-signs.

Completely OT but... (1)

Kupfernigk (1190345) | about 2 years ago | (#41461055)

Driving through a small town in Wiltshire, England yesterday, while waiting at lights I saw a young black woman wearing a red dress and coat and red shoes. She was quite stunningly beautiful. I'm surprised there wasn't a multiple pile up. Distraction can take many forms. Fortunately by the time the lights changed I had finished thinking about art history and trying to remember which painting it was that was nagging at the back of my mind. But it doesn't take boobs to create distractions.

Re:Heres MY Research (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41462993)

My research shows that signs with BOOBS in them, whether this is just women showing off their BOOBS on the roadside (which is, for some odd reason, quite common in Denmark)...is the main source of distraction. ...Now, show me a typeface that will affect YOUR distraction away from the BOOB-signs.

Good choice of font, sir! The typographic ligature between the two consecutive "O" characters is particularly entrancing!

Missing control group. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41461001)

Wher's the control group with the CD holder on the sun visor, or the console and floorboard full of cassette tapes?

Hell, even just a damn blank dash -- Who's to say we don't just find excuses to look away from the road: There are side windows full of billboards...

Re:Missing control group. (2)

Thong (218859) | about 2 years ago | (#41461775)

I live in Canberra Australia where billboards are not allowed. I've been here for 15 years and now when I leave town and go to say, Sydney, the billboards drive me crazy. They're such a blot on the landscape. Plus now it seems that every second one is trying to give me a boner. Not by showing me beautiful women but chemically!

I'm blind (3, Funny)

TheInternetGuy (2006682) | about 2 years ago | (#41461029)

I'm blind you insensitive clods, the typeface in all cars should be braille and nothing else.

Re:I'm blind (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41461083)

I've often wondered about braille labels, even computer outputs, would it allow the driver to keep his eyes on the road more?

Or is the problem that the drivers MIND wonders?

Re:I'm blind (1)

TheInternetGuy (2006682) | about 2 years ago | (#41461121)

I've often wondered about braille labels, even computer outputs, would it allow the driver to keep his eyes on the road more?

Someone ust got completely wooshed. Cant for the life of me figure out if it was me or you. :)

Re:I'm blind (1)

drkim (1559875) | about 2 years ago | (#41461439)

I've often wondered about braille labels, even computer outputs, would it allow the driver to keep his eyes on the road more?

That is why the controls have different shapes to them, so you can feel them without having to look down.

Old news (0)

Misagon (1135) | about 2 years ago | (#41461049)

This isn't exactly a new finding. Typographers have known this for over a century, if not multiple centuries. Why do you think newspapers are printed in seriffed typefaces?

Re:Old news (1)

icebike (68054) | about 2 years ago | (#41461157)

If it's been known for centuries, wouldn't you think that the hard to read type faces would have long since been scrapped?

And why are there so many font fanatics still making the tiny subtle changes, then rushing of to show them off to other font fanatics, followed by much gushing, and quibbling, followed by copyright cat fights?

Re:Old news (2)

1u3hr (530656) | about 2 years ago | (#41461487)

If it's been known for centuries, wouldn't you think that the hard to read type faces would have long since been scrapped?

They're not "hard to read". Just not so easy, and often, as in a headline or a label, slowing you down to pay attention is what they want. Styles that truly are hard to read, like Fraktur, are seen only in faux medieval text, like on wedding invitations.

Re:Old news (3, Informative)

Kenoli (934612) | about 2 years ago | (#41461365)

This isn't exactly a new finding. Typographers have known this for over a century, if not multiple centuries. Why do you think newspapers are printed in seriffed typefaces?

This research deals with the shapes, proportions, and spacing of characters in square grotesque and humanist typefaces. It doesn't have anything to do with serifs.

Re:Old news (1)

Joce640k (829181) | about 2 years ago | (#41461649)

Problem is, Times Roman looks crap on computer screens. 76dpi simply doesn't work.

Re:Old news (1)

ballpoint (192660) | about 2 years ago | (#41462103)

Why ? For sake of tradition and because all other papers are doing it.
I find serif typefaces other than on Roman monuments and for headlines fuzzy and distracting. So I read online where sans-serif prevails.

Remember ICONS (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41461097)

What ever happened to plain ICONS on the dashboard? When did we start adding words, AND WHY?

Those who refuse to remember UNIX are doomed (1)

Arker (91948) | about 2 years ago | (#41461273)

They shall rediscover it's blessings, again and again, each time as if new. And the world shall fall flat, and laugh uproriously, at such ignorance, and such arrogance. These people are actually expecting people will believe this BS, no?

*ROFL*

Re:Remember ICONS (1)

digitig (1056110) | about 2 years ago | (#41461309)

So what icons do you propose for the numbers on the speedometer?

Re:Remember ICONS (1)

Gordonjcp (186804) | about 2 years ago | (#41461407)

I don't really pay attention to the speedo when I'm driving, except the odd glance at it when I'm in an area with average speed cameras.

If the pitch of the engine changes, my speed is changing.

Re:Remember ICONS (1)

Cimexus (1355033) | about 2 years ago | (#41461475)

If you live in a perfectly flat world with no terrain, yes. :)

Re:Remember ICONS (1)

Chrisq (894406) | about 2 years ago | (#41461959)

If you live in a perfectly flat world with no terrain, yes. :)

Or drives a manual gearbox. The pitch remains the same for each speed in each gear, though the timbre changes as you use more or less gas.

Re:Remember ICONS (1)

Gordonjcp (186804) | about 2 years ago | (#41463377)

No, if I slow down on a hill the pitch of the engine changes too. Do you understand how cars work?

Re:Remember ICONS (1)

drkim (1559875) | about 2 years ago | (#41461485)

So what icons do you propose for the numbers on the speedometer?

No numbers...

Your GPS tells your car where you are, and thus knows the speed limit for the road you're on. (My TomTom does this now.)

The speedometer would then simply be a bar-graph (like a volume bar on a sound system) that would scale automatically to the speed limit.
http://www.ese-web.com/images/216.jpg [ese-web.com]
i.e. If the speed limit is 40, then the bar-graph would light up green from 0 to 30, yellow from 30 to 40, and red from 40 to 50. If you were driving from a 40 zone into a 25 zone, even if you missed the sign, your speedometer would suddenly peak out in the red, and you would reduce your speed until you were in the yellow again.

Re:Remember ICONS (1)

swilver (617741) | about 2 years ago | (#41461611)

And a question mark when GPS/Speed info is not available?

Re:Remember ICONS (2)

digitig (1056110) | about 2 years ago | (#41463877)

Yes, my TomTom does that, as does my wife's NavMan. And they both very often get the local speed limit wrong, for a number of reasons -- dynamic speed limits, temporary speed limits, speed limits dependent on weather conditions (common in France), insufficient precision to determine which of 2 roads we are on (especially when the roads are stacked vertically, such as the A4/M4 in West London). GPS is a good way of determining one's speed (when one has a signal), but it's a crock at comparing that to the speed limit. Looking out of the window at roadsigns is always going to be better than a satnav devices database.

Re:Remember ICONS (1)

Geeky (90998) | about 2 years ago | (#41461683)

I don't think I particularly take the numbers into account - once you're used to a car it's much more about where the needle is pointing - you kind of get a feel for it visually on that basis. Thinking of it as a clockface, 6 would be 0mph - if it's in the 9ish range I'm within the limit for town, 12 is about right for out of town, maybe 1, even 2 on the motorway.

There's a surprising amount of wastage there - my speedo goes up to speeds way beyond legal, which wastes space - and therefore precision at lower speeds.

My previous car had a digital speedo, which made it impossible to get that rough glance "am I in the right ballpark" view of speed. On the other hand, the (illusion of) precision probably kept me under the speed limits due to the difference between being able to tell myself I was doing "about 30" and the car telling me I was doing exactly 34...

Re:Remember ICONS (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41461907)

Just put your dad on the front passenger seat.

Look at the expression on his face to see how fast you are going ;)

Re:Remember ICONS (1)

digitig (1056110) | about 2 years ago | (#41462513)

My dad always reckoned that when my mum stopped knitting it meant she was nervous about his driving, so you might be on to something!

Re:Remember ICONS (1)

JDG1980 (2438906) | about 2 years ago | (#41462915)

I always found 7-segment displays to be the easiest type of speedometer to read. No fancy font needed.

Re:Remember ICONS (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41463575)

I propose Arabic (Indian) numerals as expressed in European languages.

Nice. (1)

0m3gaMan (745008) | about 2 years ago | (#41461153)

Drivers should to pay attention to the road in front of them - not some cutesy in-car display that Madison Avenue portrays as "useful" while driving.

Re:Nice. (1)

digitig (1056110) | about 2 years ago | (#41461321)

How accurately and consistently can you judge your speed?

Not "Grotresque", but "Square Grotesque" (3, Informative)

pieleric (917714) | about 2 years ago | (#41461173)

The summary links to Grotesque, but what they use in the article is "Square Grotesque", a modified version which is _really_ square and IMHO hard to read (and which apprently quite appreciated by car manufacturers). Concluding every Grotesque font is hard to read is definitely not what the research demonstrated.

The best is to have a look at the paper, which has good examples. A similar font can be found on wikipedia there: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eurostile [wikipedia.org] (but I find this one is still slightly easier to read).

Re:Not "Grotresque", but "Square Grotesque" (1)

Jon Abbott (723) | about 2 years ago | (#41463765)

My '95 Honda Magna motorcycle actually uses Eurostile for the speedometer and tachometer, and I like it that way. I also spend minimal time reading gauges because there are only two of them. As they say, YMMV.

Nothing to do with (sans)serif (5, Informative)

A Friendly Troll (1017492) | about 2 years ago | (#41461189)

Read the PDF, people, damn it, before jumping to conclusions.

The fonts used in the experiment were Eurostile as the grotesque and Frutiger as the humanist. Both of those are sans serif.

This is about shapes, form and spacing.

Re:Nothing to do with (sans)serif (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41461457)

But in this time, shapes, form and spacing differences is in size of 1-2cm instead 4-6mm.

I still prefer analogic metering in car dashpanel. I want just two big well lighted hands what are bright. 100Kmh on middle of top on speed meter and 3000RPM on "11 a clock" position. I don't ask anything else. Because then I don't need to watch dashboard as I can just focus to scan my 120 degree frontal area when on highway or normal road (I continually scan from left to right if there is forest) and sometimes to check back mirror when other car comes visible far away to check is someone wanting to pass me.

I love to keep my safety distance (kilometers per hour = meters to car front of me) and I don't speed and I don't drive under speed limit but trying to hold 1-3kph from speed limit if good conditions. When the visiblity is bad or road is slippery or something else, I lower my speed 10-30kph. In urban if there are schools or playing grounds for kids, I lower speed and being ready to make emergency breaking if needed. If people are about to walk over their lines, I give them change to do so. When I notice lights turns red at front, I slow speed so I can continue driving without stopping (and only cars behind me stops are those who can not handle their cars same way).

I don't understand the need for driver to use phone, text or use navigator. I do have GPS in my smartphone on use in my car. But it is voice controlled (Thanks Android) and it is located between left side mirror and windshield so it isn't blocking view at all.

And if I have passangers in my car, I focus even more to traffic and surroundings because I am responsible for their safety. Even if it is "whining" about their belts or being drunk and "jumping" around.

I have been witness in few accidents, never has they been my fault anyway. Like few days ago few teenagers tought that I was driving too slow at 80kph area (79-81kph was my speed) as first car and they awesome idea to pass me behind the line of 6 cars on 1km straight road, speeding to 160kph, only ending up to hit on a truck what was coming ahead and very well visible. Distance of truck to me at time when teens started to pass me was 150 meters, and teens distance to me was 80 meters. I needed to make emergency manuver to right side of the road to give them space to avoid that truck, but they didn't have time to avoid impact. It was like a suicide. At least they had my space so they could littlebit turn to my line to avoid full impact. The bad side was, the truck trailer and cargo slided to my line, even when driver was trying to brake at 80-100 meter distance. All cars behind me was crashing to each other because they didn't have safety distance, while I was aware what is happening behind be and possible situation at front, I could pull far right and around whole situation.

Would a better font helped in that case? No.... No way. Would better dashboard etc helped? No, no technology helps when there are stupid 24 year old driver in control of speedster and ego so big that they need to show their girlfriend they can drive like in movies.

It was sad to listen other drivers blaming to each other, while they were not focusing what is happening, they just stared car back front of them, having the 10m distance at speed of 80kph. Their tunnel vision just is cause for everything.

Re:Nothing to do with (sans)serif (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41462399)

Read the PDF, people, damn it, before jumping to conclusions.

Please don't disturb the discussion with facts. Seriously, what are you thinking to post such distractions?

most important: Girls read much faster! (1)

Herve5 (879674) | about 2 years ago | (#41461289)

Reading the original white paper, (http://agelab.mit.edu/files/AgeLab_typeface_white_paper_2012.pdf) a salient feature is definitely, for all tasks, all measurements, all graphics: women react noticeably faster --and by far...
Then the poor guys indeed have a different lag time according to the font, OK...

You have to space them out a bit (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41461343)

Gotta get that kerning [method.ac] right.

Oh boy, I probably just killed Wednesday for a lot of people. Gooooodbye productivity! And website likely.

Re:You have to space them out a bit (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41461865)

Do you really hate us all?

http://xkcd.com/1015/ [xkcd.com]

(posting anon in hopes that I don't undo my existing moderation)

Interesting study, but (1)

slimdave (710334) | about 2 years ago | (#41461371)

They should follow it up with work on the effect of presenting scientific findings through the medium of a video which continually shifts from one person's speech to another, with each speaker rarely allowed more than one sentence before the voiceover or another speaker continues the thread of their message, or some floating text is slowly revealed as it drifts across the screen. It's probably received wisdom that floating images, continual movement on the screen, and cutting between different presenters holds the attention of an audience, but there's a clear difference between getting eyes-on-screen-for-as-long-as-possible, and communicating a moderately sophisticated message. Maybe I'm too old for this shit.

Akzidenz (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41461411)

First "Grotesk" font listed on wiki:

Akzidenz Grotesk (1896)

that's some prescient shit!

Funny story... (5, Interesting)

JimmyVolatile (2440274) | about 2 years ago | (#41461637)

This has been "tested" around 2002 in Norway. A car registration plate font redesign was conducted to make all plates issued from that moment look more modern and stylish and a font similar to Eurostile were implemented. All in the name of creating a mono-space font which would make all plates equal width. ("IL 111111" would be just as wide as "MW 123456")
Result: Numbers 3, 6, 8 and 9 went from being easily distinguishable at 80m+ to be undreadable by speed and toll cameras. You could pass speed cameras with little risk of getting fined and drive on any toll road for free. Sombody else would end up with the bill due to the misreading of the license plates.

Scroll down to see examples here:
http://www.typografi.org/bilskilt/bilskilt.html [typografi.org]

In 2004 they decided to go for Myriad with variable white-spacing instead. This has not yet been implemented :)

Re:Funny story... (1)

mapkinase (958129) | about 2 years ago | (#41462023)

>look more modern and stylish

Yep. That's always a winner approach in safety.

Re:Funny story... (2)

JimmyVolatile (2440274) | about 2 years ago | (#41462209)

Errata: The redesigned Myriad-based licence plates were finally made mandatory in Nov 2006 after a 2.5-year delay. All vehicles bought or re-licenced after this date are issued with the new design. http://www.typografi.org/bilskilt/dk54019_myr.jpg [typografi.org] . Casually looking out at the nearest 15-space parking lot 6 years later shows a ~80% adoption rate of the new style licence plate :). 2002-style plate is on remaining 2 of the cars and pre-2002 style on 1 car.

Re:Funny story... (1)

Speare (84249) | about 2 years ago | (#41462615)

This is something that bugs me no end: ever since setting lead type, I've known that there is a fairly strict rule in typeface design: all digits are the same width. You can't typeset a useful ledger sheet if the 1 is narrow and the 5 is wide. Usually, all digits are an "en space", the same as the letter N, which is in turn half the "em space" or width of M.

I see bad examples all the time in digital typefaces. Clocks are the usual glaring example, the whole clock shifts around as it rolls through the ones. MS Excel at one time included a bad font file which broke this rule... which brings us back to the ledger sheet example.

Who are they (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41462477)

Do the have the wisdom of all fonts?

Re:Who are they (1)

RabidReindeer (2625839) | about 2 years ago | (#41462853)

Do the have the wisdom of all fonts?

It's true though. The R'lyeh Plus Dread font on my Wal-Mart Lower Prices import car drips green goo through impossible angles. VERY distracting while driving!

The problem isn't the font... (2)

QuietLagoon (813062) | about 2 years ago | (#41462895)

... the problem is that one has to look away from the road to see the screen.

I call BS (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41463293)

Drivers do not look at speedometers. Why should they? After all they can instinctively drive at just below the speed limit under all conditions.

The problem is controls, not the fonts. (1)

MaWeiTao (908546) | about 2 years ago | (#41463341)

I find it amusing that we needed MIT researchers to discover what a good designer with typographic experience could have told you. It's fundamentally not that much different than the thinking that has to go into selecting fonts for road signs. It's what drove the recent change from Highway Gothic to Clearview [wikipedia.org] .

The problem is when designers and their managers are driven by being different and place the emphasis on style over functionality. Part of the challenge is selecting the right font for an implementation. Serif fonts are actually easier to read when dealing with large amounts of copy, but for quick identification a round sans-serif font with clear open space is more effective. The goal is to have a font with letters that are as distinct as possible. Of course there are added challenges when dealing with displays. A basic low-res display is going to limit options considerably.

That said, a far bigger problem than type selection is usability of the system. Touchscreens are the absolute worse type of interface because they demand full attention to operate. Even those operated by knobs and buttons, requiring menu navigation demand too much attention. It's become a fad to ditch other kinds of controls in favor of buttons, leading to consoles crammed with them and no real consideration for their placement. Physical controls need to be grouped in logically related clusters, and dials should be used more extensively. Hell, I think there's a good argument for toggle switches.

Operation by touch alone should be the goal.

Parsing (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41463345)

I'm too lazy to read the article.

Did they do a comparison between the time required to read the whole screen (new driver) and the time it takes to parse the screen to just find the information you are interested in (current MPG)?

When I bought my Chevy Sonic in November 2011, it took me a while to get used to the digital dashboard display. It just seemed to take too long to get the information from it that I was interested in. In time, I got used to the layout, and my eyes go directly to the part of the screen that contains the information that I am interested in, and I process the information as my eyes go back to the road.

What I'm trying to express is that fonts only really make a difference until you are used to the presentation format. Then, as long as the format stays the same, and you've absorbed the character set, it really doesn't matter so much. The only difference then is with the new driver.

Poor auto interfaces continue (2)

DavidHumus (725117) | about 2 years ago | (#41463507)

So continues a recent tradition in the auto industry of poor interface design: replacing speedometer dials - easy to read approximately but quickly - with digital speed displays which give unnecessarily precise information; replacing tactile radio buttons with digital displays and moving numerous other devices that could be used without looking at them to a (single point of failure) screen that requires taking ones eyes off the road.

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