Adventures in Skeuomorphic Design

My car is in the shop, and I am renting a car, a Nissan Sentra, because the smaller Toyota Corolla was not available.

I prefer the Toyota to the Nissan, but I got an impressive example of well executed skeuomorphic user interface design as a result.

For the uninitiated, skeuomorphism is the use of real world analogues in an interface, so in a drawing program, you have pens that look like a pencil, or a pen, or a spray can, or an eraser.

I had a pleasant surprise with the Sentra and its lane departure warning (LDW) system.

My car, the one in the shop, is a 2004 Toyota Prius with over 270,000 miles (435,000 km) on it, which is best described as a mid-life crisis car for the most boring mother-f%$#er on the planet, lacks such a system. (I’m keeping it until it reaches 300,000 miles, because 300,000 miles, thank you very much).

On the Sentra, if you drift too close to a lane marker, it: (Quoting the manual)

The LDWsystem provides a lane departure warning function when the vehicle is driven at speeds of approximately 37 mph (60 km/h) and above and the lane markings are clear. When the vehicle approaches either the left or the right side of the traveling lane, THE STEERING WHEEL WILL VIBRATE and the LDW indicator on the instrument panel will blink to alert the driver.

(emphasis mine)

The indicator on the instrument panel is old school, and that, along with a chime, I have encountered in other rentals that I have used in the past few years.

The wheel vibration though, provides both a tactile and aural indication that is almost identical to the rumble strips that you find on the side of the road.

This is f%$#ing brilliant. It is a near perfect simulation of an existing sensory input, and I reacted in exactly the same way that I would if I encountered a rumble strip on the road.

Note that I have received no consideration for this opinion, but if either Nissan Corp. or Enterprise Car Rental wishes to pay me, I am more than willing to take their filthy capitalist lucre.

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