Interior mood lighting demo, Ford Focus

Mood lighting for your car - the next evolution in safety?

Ambient interior lighting can affect a driver's mood and be used as a safety enhancement and driver-to-driver communications tool, says one designer at Ford.

Tired of giving the one finger salute to other drivers to tell them how you really feel? Slap 'em with some red mood lighting then, courtesy of Mahendra Dassanayake, a technical design leader at Ford. Then throw in the hand gesture just for good measure. If you're in New York, add in horn honking and yelling curses to top it all off.

The idea behind interior mood lighting is actually much more sophisticated than that. Dassanayake says that certain levels or combinations of light (colors) can activate enzymes in the brain, triggering emotional responses that we label as "stress," "happiness," and so forth. Scientists and marketers have long known this, but it's largely been absent from vehicle design.

Until now. Dassanayake works for Ford and his team is busy studying how interior mood lighting can change the driving habits and emotional states of drivers on the road. How it can affect your chances on a first date is secondary, surely.

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