Chevrolet speedometer design
2011 marks the 100th anniversary of Chevrolet. During these 100 years the company developed over a hundred different types of cars, vans and trucks. All of those cars, vans and trucks have something in common: they all contain speedometers.
Speedometers are those kind of items you look at thousands of times during your life, without ever really noticing. You notice the speed, not the meter. And if you do notice the meter chances are you don’t realize someone actually designed it. The company probably even did some research beforehand. Research regarding the readability of typefaces, the right size of the numbers and the space between them.
The design of speedometers hasn’t changed much over the decades. Recently, however, there’s a trend towards digital meters. They’re probably supposed to look fresh and new, but due to the use of stopwatch-like (the digital stopwatch was invented in 1971) typefaces they actually look extremely primitive and dated.
It’s easy for a driver to get used to a needle that rises and passes numbers that are located on fixed positions. A quick glance is all it takes to see and understand the value it represents. With the most recent design it’s different. The value of the ‘stopwatch’ constantly changes while driving. Some characters of the typeface look very similar to others (for instance 0, 6 and 8), which makes it harder to figure out whether you’ll get a speeding ticket or not. Not an ideal situation.