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Posts in category 'Mobility'

21 November 2014

Everyday rituals and digital tech in the families of mobile workers

 

Quotidian Ritual and Work-Life Balance: An Ethnography of Not Being There
Jo-Anne Richard and Paulina Yurman (Helen Hamlyn Centre for Design, Royal College of Art)
David Kirk and David Chatting (Culture Lab, Newcastle University)
Paper presented at the EPIC Conference, New York, September 2014

This paper reports on current interdisciplinary design research that explores values held by individuals in their performance of everyday or ‘quotidian’ rituals in family life. The work is focused on mobile workers who may be away from home and family for extended and/or regular periods of time. During the course of the research, a key hurdle that has arisen has revolved around gaining access to families for the purpose of conducting traditional ethnographic studies. For many mobile workers who are separated from the family on a regular basis, the idea of having an ethnographic researcher present during what becomes very limited and therefore sacrosanct family time has proved difficult to negotiate. Therefore the design researchers have had to develop more designerly means of engagement with ‘the field site’ through a series of design interventions that effectively provide forms of ethnographic data when both the researcher and the researched are away from the field site, namely the family home.

1 May 2014

Looking ahead in automotive UX with Mercedes

automotive-UX-mercedes

Steve Tengler recently sat down the user experience folks at Mercedes’ Research and Development Center in Sunnyvale, California, and interviewed Paolo Malabuyo (Vice President of Advanced UX Design), Vera Schmidt (Senior Manager of Advanced UX Design), and Viviane Eide (Manager of UX Research).

An excerpt:

With customers in the connected world being bombarded with nearly throwaway, evolving, mobile electronics, does that change your traditional advanced research development view from 10-12 years in advance to 2-3 years?

PAOLO: Seven years ago the iPhone didn’t exist, right? So I think it would be hubris for any of us to say we know exactly how things are going to turn out 12+ years in the future. But there are realities that we need to deal with that bridge the 2-to-12-year gap. One end of the spectrum is the supply chain necessary to support the creation of these amazingly complex things that require tens of thousands of parts that get sourced from raw materials, which require a kind of planning and institutional muscle memory that companies like Mercedes have. The opposite end of the spectrum—the tech sector—moves much faster and is an ecosystem with nearly zero risk aversion. For instance, you just had to restart your [phone’s] recording app. That’s a product that came about in that ecosystem. Can you imagine having to pull over and restart a Mercedes after a fifteen minute drive ‘cause, well, a few things just went wrong? Completely unacceptable. So it’s up to us to figure out where the right experience bar is, and then work with the people who are experts on moving things through this process, negotiating between them and the people saying, “OK, the future looks like .”

VERA: You can see really well that we are trying to bridge this gap with the Digital Car. We are looking really far ahead—sometimes 15 years or more. We are trying to envision our ideas. This is really important because the technology is going so fast that if you always think, “OK, next year it’ll be this technology,” or “In five years, it’ll be …” then you will always be behind something else instead of coming up with your own ideas. And the connected device really [enables that]. If you have ideas now and you want to bring it to the vehicle soon—not only in 10 years—we try to accomplish it with this team by taking advantage of mobile devices and connecting them to the car to bridge that gap.

VIVIANE: I think it helps—as we are confronted with the issue that technology moves at autobahn speed—if you think about it this way: we are ultimately designing for the user, and humans don’t change that quickly. Our core desires remain fairly stable. So if I had to predict what would be a core desire in 2020, people probably [still won’t] want to waste time in traffic. So we like to think about those human, core desires and how can we use technology to meet them. But one distinguishing factor, even if we are developing faster and [creating] apps, is that we do not release beta versions and test them in the market. That is obviously not acceptable in the automotive market for safety reasons.

27 April 2014

The challenge of the car interface

volvodashboard

Three articles – all published on Medium – confront the challenge of designing an effective car user interface:

The State of In-Car UX
by Geoff Teehan, Teehan+Lax
No matter the price or the brand, the interfaces that adorn today’s vehicles are in a bad place. Thankfully, there’s hope.
[Long, insightful article with lots of examples and visuals]

The State of Car UI
by Jonathan Shariat
Why can’t quality brands get it right? (Hint: It’s hard)

Why Your Car’s UI Sucks
by Neil Johnston

17 December 2013

Dan Hill: Can public enterprises adopt the popular dynamics of private enterprises?

uber-transport

In his latest Dezeen column, Dan Hill examines what services like the Uber taxi app mean for cities and asks whether the designers of public services can learn something from them.

“So this [i.e. Uber], as with Amazon (and Starbucks, J Crew and the rest) is another cultural blitzkrieg, obliterating difference and leaving high-quality homogeneity in its wake. With clothes and coffee it’s a shame, but not that big a deal. However, when it ploughs into a core urban service like mobility I have, well, a few issues.

Although taxis are a form of privatised transport, they remain part of the city’s civic infrastructure, part of their character. As architect and teacher Robin Boyd wrote, “taxi-men teach the visitor a lot about their towns, intentionally and unintentionally.” Boyd was able to to demarcate Sydney culture from Adelaide culture based on whether the cabbie opens the door for you. I recall scribbling a drawing of a Stephen Holl building I wanted to visit in Beijing, as my only way of communicating my desired destination to the taxi driver. Uber makes transactions easier, but what we gain from a seamless UI, and the convenience of the global currency of apps, we lose from the possibility of understanding a place through a slightly bumpier “seamful” experience.”

In short, Hill is concerned:

“The broader issue is replacement of public services with private services. […] “Who’s to say that similarly shiny networked services won’t also begin to offer privatised coordination of your waste collection, energy and water provision and so on, to match the trends towards private education, private healthcare and private mail delivery to gated communities?”

So what could public services and public authorities do?

“It may mean that public enterprise has to adopt the popular dynamics, patterns and systems of our age, yet bent into shape for public good. This seems possible, as the GOV.UK project from the UK’s Government Digital Service illustrates. Perhaps by marrying such supremely good interactive work with the ethos and long-term viability of the public sector, services like Uber will be left to play happily in the aspirant niches while high-quality networked public services will be available for all. It is just as viable for public transport systems to apply network logic as it is for Uber to do so, if not easier, as the public sector gets to shape the policy and regulatory environments, as well as the delivery.”

So. he ends, “the design question posed by Uber is: can public enterprises adopt the popular dynamics of private enterprises without also absorbing their underlying ideologies?”

6 December 2013

The UX explorers at Ford: an interview with Parrish Hanna and Chris Thibodeau

explorers-of-ux-ford-small

In response to the recent explosion in UX, Ford Motor Company has hired folks like Parrish Hanna and Chris Thibodeau — Global Director of Human-Machine Interface and Executive Manager of Global Product Planning for User Interface, Connectivity, and Infotainment respectively — to react and reshape Ford’s user experience.

Hanna’s past was non-automotive having spent years in the connected world with Motorola. “I came from consumer electronics and telecommunications, where you are always looking for a captive space in which to work, like a kitchen or living room. Automotive has that captive space, which makes a big difference. The challenge is to help the user with other elements such as dealing with comfort, efficiency, interactions like navigation, making a call, listening to music, etc. layered in a single space and controlled in multiple dimensions, not to mention adjusting things like momentum and braking. A great blend of physical and digital design challenges.”

Thibodeau, on the other hand, comes from a long history of automotive product development (Visteon, GM) with teams including user experience designers and researchers. “It takes a two-prong approach to plan and design effectively. Silo engineering is not the way to get great user experiences. Parrish and I help and strive to bring a cross-functional mindset.”

Steve Tengler recently had an opportunity to sit down with both of them and inquire about Ford’s new direction for user experience and the next generation of human-machine interfaces.

5 November 2013

Tesla’s groundbreaking UX: interview with UI manager Brennan Boblett

tesla-touchscreen-a

“Dashboards of the past are littered with physical buttons that can never change, forever ingrained into them. The [Tesla] Model S, by contrast, has a fully upgradeable dash that’s software driven. We started with a blank slate—17” of glass, which is the centerpiece of the interior. That inspired an all-digital touchscreen automotive UI platform built from the ground up—one that could be updated over the air to provide new functionality as the years go on,” says Telsa’s User Interface Manager, Brennan Boblett.

Steve Tengler recently had the opportunity to sit down with Boblett, and the resulting interview published in UX Magazine provides a window into the customer-centric enthusiasm and passion that’s at the core of Telsa’s UX philosophy.

19 October 2013

The design of Copenhagen as a bicycle friendly city

 

In a ten part video series, Copenhagenize Design Co explores the top 10 design elements that make Copenhagen a bicycle-friendly city.

The embedded video highlights the big picture. The overall design of the bicycle infrastructure network as a key element in encouraging Citizen Cyclists to choose the bicycle as transport and that keeps them safe.

The other videos:

  1. The Green Wave
    The Green Wave is coordinated traffic lights for cyclists. Ride 20 km/h and you won’t put a foot down on your journey into the city centre in the morning and home again in the afternoon.
    On Nørrebrogade, the first street to feature the Green Wave, the number of cyclists increased by 15%. Traffic flow in the intense morning bicycle rush hour was improved, providing Citizen Cyclists with a smoother, more efficient journey.
    Now, several major arteries leading to the city centre in Copenhagen feature the Green Wave for cyclists.
     
  2. Intermodality
    Combining the bicycle on all forms of transport is vital.
     
  3. Safety details
    It’s in the details when you wish to keep cyclists safe and cycling convenient.
     
  4. Nørrebrogade
    Exploration of one of the greatest urban planning experiments in recent Copenhagen history. The retrofitting of the street Nørrebrogade, complete with Green Wave for cyclists, wide cycle tracks and restricted access for cars.
     
  5. Macro design
     
  6. Micro design
    The design details on the urban landscape – many by the people, for the people – are the beautiful polish on a bicycle-friendly city.
     
  7. Cargo bikes
     
  8. Desire lines
     
  9. Political will
9 January 2013

Ethnographic research on vehicular design in China

img_2597

Zach Hyman is based in Chongqing, China on a year long ethnographic dive into creative practices of vehicular design among resource-constrained users. After four months in the field, Zach shares with Ethnography Matters his first field update.

His observations on low-tech vehicles are incredibly relevant for the current global shifts in automative production. China is now the largest car market. But many Western companies are discovering that simply transferring a car designed for Western users does not appeal to Asian users. Point in case GM’s Cadillac, a car built for American consumers fails to connect to Chinese consumers. It’s no surprise to an audience of ethnographers that cultural values inform design decisions, but companies like GM are having to learn the hard way.

A deep understanding of workers’ current vehicle practices reveals new opportunities to develop vehicles that challenge the current domination of resource-intensive cars. One entrepreneur, Joel Jackson, created Mobius One in Kenya with local welders to overcome transport challenges. The result? A $6,000 low-tech car made for Africa. Like Joel, Zach’s research contributes to a growing group of designers and entrepreneurs who will create a new class of vehicles.

3 January 2013

Hertz president on the future of mobility

electriccars

A day after the announcement that the Avis Budget Group has agreed to acquire Zipcar, the world’s leading car sharing network, for approximately $500 million, Michel Taride, president of Hertz International and executive vice president of Hertz Corporation, presents his view on the future in an OpEd for the BBC website.

“With smartphone and other technologies making it easier to spontaneously chose between many different forms of urban transport, people no longer automatically associate mobility with owning a car,” he claims, stating the obvious.

So what does that mean for Hertz?

“Travel and transport providers have to be increasingly flexible and reactive to their consumers’ needs.

We cannot expect loyalty; we have to earn it.

Speed of response and customer service is what sets businesses apart, as people base their decisions upon ease and value.

Amidst all this technology, it is vital that customers can still interact with companies directly and face-to-face.

Convenience must also be balanced with a good customer experience. Companies simply cannot afford to lose that human element.”

21 December 2012

Should there be a standard user interface for cars?

 

Writer Jason Torchinsky makes a case for a standard user interface for cars:

“I know there’s already a number of official and unofficial standards in place — pedal location, use of a wheel for steering, turn indicator stalk location — but cars are getting more and more complex, and in some ways it’s pretty surprising this hasn’t already happened.

And that’s just standards for the things we actually interact with; industry-wide standards for the fundamental systems that make up a car’s brains could prove very useful as well.”

Yet, the commenters disagree and call it a bad idea or worse.

(via BoingBoing)

20 December 2012

Dan Saffer on how we *should* interact with the automobiles of the (near) future

google-self-driving-car

Smart Design’s Dan Saffer discusses on Fast Company on how we should interact with the automobiles of the (near) future:

“What will this feel like, riding in our new robot cars? If the experience of being a “driver” in our new cars isn’t designed well, it could feel like we’re trapped in a public taxi, surrounded by screens blaring at us. Robot car is a robot, after all, not human. But there is also another way it could be: like having our own private driver who knows our preferences, our daily routes, the right temperature settings, and how much control of the car we want. These cars will have a personality–although not too much personality–and they’ll know us and conform to us. Their sensors won’t just be trained on the roads and their mechanics; they’ll also be trained on us. They’ll observe us, get to know us, and adapt to us. Our robot cars will respond to being spoken to, and even to unspoken cues by not interrupting us when we’re busy or tired. They will be our moving exoskeletons, acknowledging and respecting our very humanity yet compensating for our limitations by having superpowers like 360-degree vision and the ability to parse traffic data. This is how carmakers will build brand loyalty. We will love our robot cars, and never dream of jet packs again.”

3 December 2012

Morality, the next frontier in human-computer interaction

Gov. Brown Signs Legislation At Google HQ That Allows Testing Of Autonomous Vehicles

John Pavlus reflects in the MIT Technology Review on a short essay by Gary Marcus in the New Yorker about the ethical quandaries raised by Google’s driverless car.

“The real problems that artificially intelligent cars will bring with them,” he says, “aren’t the grand techno-ethical abstractions mulled over by the Singularity Institute, but practical issues of product and interface design, constrained by the usual vicissitudes of politics and economics. For better or worse, it’s the designers, lawyers, and consumers—not the philosophers or academics—who will be the ultimate arbiters of what passes muster as a “moral machine.'”

3 December 2012

How Ford makes its cars smarter

mascarenas

In the fast-evolving world of connected cars, CTO Paul Mascarenas is bringing Detroit and Silicon Valley together to chart Ford’s path into the future.

Brian Cooley of CNet interviews him during a walk through Ford’s advanced research facilities.

26 November 2012

Unpacking cars: doing anthropology at Intel (paper by Genevieve Bell)

unpackingcars

The fall 2011 issue of AnthroNotes (pdf) starts off with an article by Genevieve Bell, senior cultural anthropologist at Intel.

She describes her latest research project, designed to understand how cars around the world can serve as windows into the future of mobile technology and computers. The article also contains an ample but simply worded expose on why Intel has anthropologist and what they do.

“We wanted to see what people carried with them [in cars] and to understand how cars functioned as sites of technology consumption and human activity, and how they became imbued with meaning.” […]

“Cars are a contested space when it comes to new technology. What makes sense to bring into a car, to leave in a car, or to install in a car – all are still being negotiated. This negotiation is being impacted by many factors – legislation, social regulation, guilt, perceptions of safety and crime, urban density, parking structures, commute time, just to name a few. As such, imagining and designing technologies for cars, for technologies to be used in cars, and for the worlds that cars will inhabit is a more nuanced undertaking than many imagine.” […]

“Cars are so much more than forms of transportation. They are, in point of fact, highly charged objects. They say something about who we are and who we want to be. They are also part of much more complex systems, ecosystems, environments, and imaginations. In this way, cars resemble many other contemporary technologies: our smart phones, tablets, even tablets and e-readers.”

UPDATE: Video version is here.

16 October 2012

BMW’s electric experience

P90096018_500_t346

Martin C. Pedersen reports in a long article for Metropolis Magazine on the 2014 BMW i3, the company’s first fully electric vehicle aimed at city driving.

The article focuses on how BMW’s new business strategy is all based on the core importance of the product experience:

“An ambitious experiment, with hefty up-front costs estimated to be as high as $200 million, the roll-out has the potential to both shift the company’s business model — from selling a product to selling the experience that product provides — and redefine the car’s role in an increasingly connected urban world.” […]

BMW has gone all-in on the urban mobility angle, taking several pages out of the car- and bike-sharing playbooks. The system uses the emerging connection between mobile devices and BMW that already exists in a nascent form in Germany. Don Norman, the noted designer and author, does consulting work for the automaker and has seen the system in action: “In Munich, when I’m with the BMW crowd, if we’re in the city and decide to drive someplace, one of the guys will take out his cell phone and open up an app that tells him where a car is located. He reserves one that’s a block away. We walk over, he waves his BMW badge, and the car unlocks. The car is not just available to BMW people. Anyone who belongs to the subscription service can do it.”

Read article

7 September 2012

Service design in tourism

Screen Shot 2012-09-07 at 16.26.08

SDT2012 was the first international conference on service design thinking in the travel and tourism industry. For the first time, the conference brought together a community interested in the practical application of service design thinking within the travel and tourism industry.

The conference was the closing event of the project “Service Design in Tourism” funded by the European Union under the CIP Competitiveness and Innovation Framework Programme, and hosted by MCI – Management Center Innsbruck, Department of Tourism.

A free 142 page e-book with Case studies of applied research projects on mobile ethnography for tourism destinations.

Abstract

Tourism becomes more and more transparent through social media and tourism review websites. Nowadays, it’s the individual guest’s experience that makes or breaks the success of a tourism product. Thus, the focus in tourism shifts from mere marketing communications to meaningful experiences. Service design thinking can provide an in-depth and holistic understanding of customers required to cocreate meaningful experiences with guests.

The book provides an introduction into service design and tourism and presents seven case studies of European tourism destinations, which used the app myServiceFellow as a mobile ethnography research tool to gain genuine customer insights. The book reports lessons learned of these case studies, gives managerial implications and an outlook on future research fields for service design in tourism.

“Service Design and Tourism” is the written outcome of the research project “Service design as an approach to foster competitiveness and sustainability of European tourism” funded by the European Union under the CIP Competitiveness and Innovation Program.

14 August 2012

Touch in cars is still too complicated

cueinterface

It is not a secret that touch is not as easy as it seems and very difficult to get right, writes Wolfgang Gruener on Conceivable Tech. Cadillac is the first company that is trying to translate touch in a comprehensive way to be used in conjunction with a car’s entertainment system. He and his colleagues have had a few days to play with the CUE system and they walked away impressed and confused at the same time.

“I wrote about CUE (Cadillac User Experience) a few weeks ago after an initial demonstration that was admittedly breathtaking. However, that was in a parked car and only a product demonstration. This time I actually was given Cadillac’s new XTS sedan for a test drive over a week to see what CUE can accomplish in driving scenarios. After 200 miles, I am still impressed by the execution of this system, but I am convinced that not everyone will like the no-compromise translation of the smartphone/tablet concept into an in-car entertainment system. There is no grey area – either you like it and it is going to convince to buy the car around it, or you are going to simply hate it.”

Read review

17 May 2012

Researchers glean deep UI lessons from a haptic steering wheel

haptic_steering_wheel_300x225

According to a new driving study, conducted by Professor SeungJun Kim at Carnegie Mellon’s Human Computer Interaction Institute, young people and seniors each perform better with different types of feedback:

“71% of elder drivers thought the auditory modality was the most useful and 59% thought the visual modality was the most annoying. In contrast, 63% of younger drivers thought the visual modality was most useful and 50% of them thought the auditory modality was most annoying. Both groups ranked haptic feedback between auditory and visual feedback.”

Read article

18 April 2012

The future of connected cars: what Audi is driving towards

audi_connect_apr12

Richard MacManus writes on ReadWriteWeb that the next generation of in-car apps will be about providing “smart” services, such as taking some of the cognitive load off the driver – including making the car autonomous in some ways. And he provides Audi (which just bought Ducati, by the way) as a case in point:

“One area where in-car technology will evolve is navigation; in particular how the car can automate some navigation aspects. [Anupam] Malhotra told me that Audi is currently figuring out “what the vehicle’s role is as the navigator.” Right now this is done via Google voice controls. For example if you’re looking for a spicy chicken lunch, you can tell the system “spicy chicken” and it will inform you of the nearest eatery where spicy chicken is available.

Another area that Audi is targeting is the HMI (Human-machine interface) in the car. The first generation was buttons around the driving wheel and touchscreen controls in the dashboard. Voice controls came next, with the Google voice system being the latest iteration of that for Audi. In the near future we will see gesture controlled systems, which Audi demonstrated at CES as a concept. Gesture controls will be used not just by the driver, but passengers in the car.

The software in the vehicle will also evolve, said Malhotra, to take away some of the decision-making from the driver. Not so much in terms of driving, which people want to keep control over. It will be focused on things that augment the driving experience. Features such as lane departure sensing, warning systems if there is a car in your blind spot, technology that protects the car occupants in the event of a collision. “All of this will happen through connectivity,” said Malhotra.

The overall goal of these future-looking developments, Malhotra said, is to take away the “misery” aspects of driving; like parking problems, dealing with traffic congestion, fuel management. This will allow the driver to enjoy the actual driving part.”

Read article

15 December 2011

Highway to health

Carseat

Incorporating wireless technology into its newest cars, Ford prepared to roll out vehicles capable of monitoring everything from pollen counts to glucose levels.

“[Ford] started concentrating on the aging population in 1999, and a focus on health and wellness within the car is at the center of their new approach. Unobtrusive ergonomic changes like lowered door frames—much kinder on stiff joints—have already been making a quiet appearance throughout the fleet. Within the next five years Ford will be rolling out more-dramatic medical apps for its voice-controlled Sync platform, a communications and entertainment system developed with Microsoft, which was first introduced in 2007.

Read article