BMW iDrive Redesign

This project focused on refining the user experience and physical controller associated with BMW’s iDrive user interface. A wide range of interface approaches from other contexts were explored and the work shaped the current version of the user interface that continues to serve users well in today’s BMW vehicles.


Easing Access, Reducing Complexity, and Building on the Familiar

In redesigning BMW’s iDrive controller, the most frequently accessed functions were given physical buttons. The original circular interface had eight options along the periphery of the screen. Menu options were accessed by rotating the iDrive controller and pressing down on it to select a menu option. This approach was replaced by a four mode menu, thus reducing the amount of mental load on users.

BMW iDrive redesign: Easy access shortcut buttons accommodate both frequency of use and immediacy of access for main features.

A Simplified Menu Structure

Reducing the main menu to four options reduces the complexity of the interface and the mental load placed on drivers.

Exploring the Familiar

To enhance the approachability of the interface, digital elements familiar to users from other contexts were explored. These included scrolling lists, radio buttons, check boxes, menu items, sliders and modal dialog boxes.

Helping Users Maintain Orientation

A menu breadcrumb (blade slices) reveal a portion of the prior menu. This helps keep users oriented by indicating how deep they are within a menu.

Prototyping the Experience

Features were prototyped and shared with users and executive decision makers at BMW. An easily deployable experience prototype transformed any desk into a convincing demonstration platform.