GMC Hummer's Screens Are More Cinematic Thanks to Perception Studio – Car and Driver


  • The 2024 GMC Hummer SUV will feature digital interfaces made by the Perception studio, which has previously created visual effects for movies including the 2014 Robocop and the Marvel cinematic universe.
  • The Hummer’s science-fiction-like displays are designed to look “tactical” and convey a lot of information quickly, Perception’s creative director, John LePore, told Car and Driver.
  • Among the things you’ll see: As you enter each drive mode, the Hummer bursts through a portal, and holographic lights accompany ride-height changes.

    GMC’s 2024 Hummer EV SUV was fully revealed today, and among the descriptions of its features, the automaker noted that it “offers new tactical tech”—logical for a vehicle descended from the mil-spec original Hummer. “Tactical” shows itself in the set of displays and controls in the gauge cluster, infotainment, and HVAC screens, and for those, GMC tapped a New York visual-effects studio called Perception to create the Hummer’s digital personality.

    Perception’s background includes work in the Marvel universe and on the 2014 film Robocop. Where did Tony Stark get his glass phone, and where did Hydra’s Armin Zola get his ghost stuck in an ancient CRT machine? Perception. The company also works with tech firms including Microsoft and Samsung, aerospace companies, and automakers. In addition to making practical improvements, creative director John LePore told us, Perception works to give interfaces and digital experiences “cinematic magic” that will “live up to dreams and fantasies created by science fiction.”

    gmc hummer ev graphics

    GMC/Perception

    LePore said Perception started working with GM about two and a half years ago and has spent 18 months on the Hummer project to combine technology and cinema in representing all of the new EV’s capabilities. The intent was to make the HMI “the most forward-thinking experience that it could be.” GMC and Perception explored “dozens and dozens of concepts” to get the final version seen in Hummer reveal videos.

    Perception needed to represent the range of Hummer features with sci-fi flourishes but without filling the cabin screens with numbers and prompts. LePore described the studio’s approach as “Every pixel has a purpose.” Such discipline “results in instrumentation that is bold and direct, while Perception’s cinematic skill set results in a look that is spartan and tactical,” befitting a Hummer’s intended attitude. The visualizations we’ve seen so far do look martial from a distance—they wouldn’t be out of place in a Michael Bay film or a Bourne franchise installment.

    There’s a lot going on in the visualizations, but each has been designed to convey its information in several ways and at a glance. While Perception did the visuals for the gauge cluster, center screen, and HVAC screen, the marquee cinematic bits come through in the Hummer’s Off-Road App ProView function. The truck offers more than 10 off-road widgets and can display up to three at once in the 13.4-inch touchscreen.

    Take the pitch and roll graphic. It puts a Hummer icon at the center of a three-dimensional gyroscope, a red line representing roll, a blue line representing pitch. Colored bars at the edges of each axis get thicker or thinner to show how far the Hummer is from level, akin to the way a digital level works on a smartphone or a digital camera. Pitch and roll also display their data in numbers, two figures in blue being the current angles, two figures in red being the maximum safe angles. It’s the kind of display that would take about 60 minutes on the trail to get proficient with, after which other displays could seem antiquated or arcane.

    Just about every feature we’ve been privy so far contains the same density of information, easy to pluck once one learns where to look for a particular stat. Torque application at each wheel is four bar graphs at the corners of a Hummer icon. Each graph fills with blue as a wheel requires more torque, the blue changing to orange when the wheel nears its maximum torque. Ride height adjusts in four steps, with four boxes beside a Hummer icon illuminating while “a holographic pulse” is emitted from the top of the icon as the Hummer progresses through the stages. The suspension travel widget displays vertical wheel movement in real time, and Perception “added color-changing branches that magnify the movement of each wheel” to make the widget easier to read quickly.

    Widgets are customizable as well. One widget contains a compass with three different representations of direction of travel, as well as GPS coordinates, altitude, and the drive mode. Switch to the standalone altimeter display and get two graphic illustrations of current elevation, plus high and low altitude values.

    LePore said even the HVAC screen contains gems. “It may take weeks of ownership before noticed, but there are delightful micro-animations that respond to every HVAC button press … and enhance the understanding of each interaction.” And the customizable AUX buttons for accessories will include a library of visualizations like lights and a skull & crossbones.

    Transition and technology screens earned just as much thought. When changing driving modes, LePore said “the Hummer bursts through a portal, entering a new epic environment. Each mode has its own distinct animation displaying an accurate depiction of the mode’s capabilities.” The ubiquitous lunar themes, both in the screen and in design elements around the vehicle, symbolize GM’s historic work on NASA’s lunar program.

    For features like the Crabwalk, the driver presses a button for five seconds; the delay is to prevent accidental activation. While depressing the button, a progress bar appears on the center stack to confirm activation. Once the feature is active, an image in the center screen shows a Hummer icon with its wheels turned, and a Crabwalk graphic appears in the instrument cluster. LePore said.

    The Watts to Freedom mode calls up a series of instructional graphics in the instrument cluster as the Hummer guides the driver on the steps required to prep for a standing launch. LePore said the visuals are “almost a mission control checklist or launch sequence.” In Hummer parlance on the instrument panel, it’s called becoming “armed.”

    All of this was of course done with federal regulations for ergonomics and distracted driving in mind. We’ll need to drive the Hummer ourselves to assess whether Perception has landed on the pixel-thin road to the future’s holy trifecta of novel, impressive, and useful.

    LePore’s adamant there are no gimmicks involved. “The vehicle’s not wearing a sci-fi costume,” he said. “The goal is not to create something futuristic. The goal was to create what the future of these vehicles should be.” Stressing that rousing technology isn’t holograms and flashing lights, Perception’s believes “the future is not an aesthetic, it’s a logic-driven way of thinking and making sure that you’re creating something that is the most effective to the human that we’ll be using it.

    “We’re just presenting the clearest graphs, the boldest numerical readouts and information that I think will begin to become the new standard moving forward.”

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