Ford Develops Vibrating Stick-Shift Knob With Educational and Eco-Friendly Twist | Edmunds.com
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Ford Develops Vibrating Stick-Shift Knob With Educational and Eco-Friendly Twist


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Just the Facts:
  • Ford is showing off a prototype vibrating stick-shift knob on a Ford Mustang Shelby GT500 that could help to teach consumers how to drive a manual transmission and get better fuel economy, too.
  • A rookie Ford engineer used a vibration motor from a Microsoft Xbox 360 game controller to develop the high-tech knob.
  • The company has not spelled out any production plans for the vibrating stick-shift knob.

DEARBORN, Michigan — Ford is showing off a prototype vibrating stick-shift knob on a Ford Mustang Shelby GT500 that could help to teach consumers how to drive a manual transmission and get better fuel economy, too.

A rookie Ford engineer used a vibration motor from a Microsoft Xbox 360 game controller to develop the high-tech knob.

The company has not spelled out any production plans for the vibrating stick-shift knob.

The knob uses haptic feedback or a vibration that tells the driver when to shift. The beauty of the idea is that it appears to lessen driver distraction. The driver doesn't need to look down at the instrument panel in order to be prompted to shift gears.

"The idea is that the drivers no longer need to look down at a light or indicator on the dash," said Zach Nelson, the developer of the knob, in a Ford YouTube video. "They can, instead, simply wait for the haptic feel and keep their eyes on the road and shift at the right time."

Besides using it as a stick-shift teaching tool, another advantage is for it to act as a fuel-efficiency coach, Nelson points out. Drivers can program it to vibrate when it it's time to shift for optimal fuel efficiency.

Nelson began the experiment by modifying a digital model of the shift knob from a Ford Focus ST.

Ford has released the computer coding for this project on its OpenXC software platform to allow customizers and aftermarket companies to develop their own spin on this technology.

"One of the great benefits of OpenXC is the amount of customization you can bring to your vehicle," Nelson said.

Edmunds said: Finally, some real-world benefits to playing video games.

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