The physiology of tomorrow's consumer will be different than that of today and clever auto makers will design vehicle interiors accordingly, a design-trend analyst says.

The next cohort of consumers “is the first generation to be raised looking down,” says Maxine Lauer, founder and CEO of Sphere Trending, a Michigan-based firm that forecasts design trends.

For most of their lives, they have looked down at display screens on devices such as PDAs, hand-held video games and iPods. As a result, they see things differently, Lauer says, adding this group reads outward from the center of a page, not left to right.

“Your eyes grow in the visual field they are most accustomed to,” she says.

And while their peripheral vision is less developed, they have an acute knack for quickly deciphering what is directly in front of them. Auto makers and suppliers must consider this when designing future vehicle interiors, Lauer advises.

These consumers, which Lauer describes as “Gen Now,” represent some 84 million people between the ages of 15 and 34, encompassing the 76 million between 16 and 33 who conventionally are known as Gen Y.

Future information displays needn't be high-tech. Lauer suggests dashboards could play host to dry-erase boards, because Gen Now members have embraced the art of leaving messages and “they love to make their mark.”

Gen Now also has new health considerations. “Their backs have carried 50 lbs. (23 kg) in a (school) backpack,” Lauer says.