Photo of calming Mindful Mode dashboard in 2020 Ford Explorer

Ford joins digital detox party with ‘mindful mode’ on 2020 Explorer

New 2020 Explorer has an option to clear its digital dashboard of clutter

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The digital detox movement has become increasingly popular through 2018 and 2019, as technology companies begin to offer their customers ways to take a step back from smartphones and social media.

As car companies fit increasingly larger touch screen displays and digital dashboards to their vehicles, it makes sense for them to follow suit - which is what the 2020 Ford Explorer has done.

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The new SUV features a new Mindful Mode for its 12.3-inch dashboard display. When activated, all information apart from your speed and fuel level is removed.

Mindful Mode comes after Ford's 2019 Looking Further trends report found that 69 percent of adults globally think they should have mandatory timeout from devices like smartphones. It also found 76 percent say they seek to engage in greater self-care.

The feature comes after Apple and Google both released systems in 2018 to help curb smartphone, app and social media addiction. These inform users about how long they spend on their phones, including how many times the devices are picked up and interacted with each day, and allows daily time limits to be set.

Ford has used its corporate blue color for Mindful Mode, claiming it "lulls the neurons as our brains interpret its blue color scheme as soothing and tranquil."

Gif of new Mindful Mode on dashboard of 2020 Ford ExplorerMindful Mode strips away most functions and readoutsFord

As smartphone makers are often at pains to tell us, exposure to blue light, especially in the evenings, can be harmful to getting a good night of sleep. Smartphones can be set to strip out blue light from their displays in the evenings; but, naturally, while Ford wants its cars to be calming, it doesn't necessarily want to follow the sleep-preparation strategy of Apple's Night Shift feature.

Modern cars offer more visual distractions than ever, with systems like navigation, phone and music taking the driver's attention, along with readouts for vehicle status, and a whole range of chart and graphics explaining the power usage of electric vehicles. We welcome Ford's approach here, stripping away all but the absolutely necessary when the driver feels they are being distracted by information-overload.

Ford hopes the system will reduce driver stress and improve concentration, potentially reducing accidents. At the very least, it could help prevent driver confusion after a busy day.

"It's no secret many people are tethered to their devices - engaging with screens at all hours day and night," said Sheryl Connelly, of Ford's consumer trends and futurism division. "People are increasingly aware of and alarmed by their device dependency. Yet if there's one opportunity throughout the day to reduce your exposure to digital demands, it's when you're driving."

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