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Project Overview

BMW Group & SCADpro

 

SCADpro worked with BMW Group to research and develop concepts for an Interior Vehicle Design; combining technology development and the core value of autonomous technology with affordance and hints. I joined the project as a Lead UX Researcher.

TEAM

Small team of eight design students selected from the Savannah College of Art and Design

MY ROLE

In September of 2019, I was selected by Professor John Collette and Guido Bottazzo to streamline the user experience of the the Interior of a BMW vehicle. I worked with a team of four people to conduct research, prototype, and design a new layout to hand off to corporate of BMW Group in Munich, Germany. I was responsible for the research, and the UX strategy portion of this project.

Tools

Adobe Creative Suite (Visuals), Pen & Paper (User Testing & Ideation)

The Brief

"What happens when we remove the limitations of existing screens and allow our interfaces to become part of our environment?"

The Solution

For this project, I was the Lead UX Researcher who:

  • Led research on gestures and natural human interaction

  • Designed and Moderated three phases of user testing with shapes, without shapes, and with potential 3D prototypes that could be used inside the car 

  • Designed Slider for Volume Control  

  • Presented to the BMW Group for the final presentation

  • Flew out to Mountain View California, and sat with clients and engineers to collaborate on future development for gestures

Creating a Vision

Product vision: The project brief from the BMW group was to research and develop concepts for the future of autonomous vehicle interiors, specifically focusing on affordances and hints.

 

With the product vision, I created a strategy canvas which helped the team establish a set of goals and objectives for the concept design.

Conducting Interviews

The goal was to better understand their perspectives in regards to the users mental models. We observed their gestures in open space and immediate responses to complete these actions. 

The prompts that we asked 1st phase:
1. “On/off”
2. “Turn Up”
3. “Changing something”
4. “Turn Down”
5. "Select"

6. "Move"

Conducting Interviews

We provided a set of shapes that included squares and circles in different sizes, a triangle, an abstract shape etc. We randomly placed these shapes on a table, creating an imaginary interface. The users were asked to interact with these shapes, as and when an action was prompted. 

immediate responses to complete these actions. 

The prompts that we asked 2nd phase:

1. Turn on.

2. Turn on music.

3. Turn up the volume.

4. Change the song.

5. Make the temperature warmer.

6. Turn off the lights.

7. Select something and move it.

8. Combine two shapes.

9. Remove a shape from the interface.

10. Turn off.

11. Select your favorite three shapes and put them in order, from most favorite to least favorite.

Conducting Interviews

The industrial design team created a physical form using a Ren foam board. There were blocks with different patterns which were used for the gesture study. We observed the users’ immediate reaction towards these forms and how they interacted with them in the given time.

Ren Foam was used for prototyping to visualize the interface through detailed physical models . We created tangible blocks for users to interact with; like a protruding surface block, a concave block, ridge line block, touch pad block, finger print block and many others.

Insights

I organized a Google Spreadsheet for the team to record their interview questions and responses. The spreadsheet was an instrumental tool when it came time to gather our findings and insights at the end of the research phase.

Takeaways:

Users prefer smaller objects (like the small circle) when it’s a simple “on / off” action or to select something.

• Regular or conventional shapes give more of a hint to the user on how to use it. For example, skinny rectangle was often used to slide.

• Small circle was used for a push / tap gesture, using index finger.

• Big circle was used for a rotational / circular movement.

• Organic shape was often used as two buttons; for multiple clicks / to change something.

• Less number of people were inclined towards irregular shapes.

• Most of the users decided to remove the organic shape as it felt “odd” amongst the rest of them.

• Squares are more unnatural to people, especially when they are large. They hardly interacted with the big square and most of them called it “boring.”

• People prefer to stick to conventional ideas like the button motions, knob motions etc.

• Number of fingers used usually depends on the size of button / shape of button.

• Some users prefer combining associated elements for easy operation.

How Might we?

How might we" questions were drafted to jump start the brainstorming session. The goal was to transform design challenges into opportunities that would eventually lead to a solution.

How might we blend physical buttons into the design of the interiors?


There was an opportunity to improve the functionality of the user interacts with affordance and hints in a subtle way of interior vehicle in such a way that would make it easier for users to be able to use and comprehensible. They should also be able to communicate its functionality to the user, using visual cues as hints towards the physical affordances. These physical affordance can be self-explanatory, or the visual cues can support and give hints to the physical affordance.

We knew from the user interviews and client review meeting that we focused our attention on how we could get the users’ attention to focus on a certain point, which is the starting point.

We created sketches for alerts and notifications and continued to work on starting points. Different permutations and combinations of the starting points were made; combining gestural, physical and visual sketches.

This essentially means that some physical forms were designed based on certain gestures, and some gestural sketches that were based on how the physical forms were fabricated

3D Prototyping (Tangible)

With the User interviews, we collected our insights and were able to start creating motion graphics on physical forms

starting phase one of the physical forms as "jellybeans." The 3D forms that were created as the surfaces for projection  This essentially was for prototyping and material exploration.

3D Prototyping (Tangible)

Color

The sourced materials were of varied colors. We did multiple trials to see if the projected colors were losing its intensity, being absorbed or reflected on these materials.

Texture

Materials with different textures helped us determine if there were any distortions, and we were able to analyze how the quality of projections varied across as range of materials.

 

We created two medium sized jelly beans for projections. One of them was a rounded; organic shape, while the other was structured and geometric. We draped knit fabrics over these 3D forms, before using them for projections.

3D Prototyping (Projections)

We primarily focused on starting points and how to grab the users’ attention towards these points. As a team, we finalized our feasible sketches, and then we animated them. These animations added life to our concepts. While skinning these sketches, we added various effects and layers, to make it look realistic.

Our sketches along with the animations depicted various interface actions such as ‘combine / separate,’ ‘hide / reveal,’ ‘modify / choose,’ ‘list / scroll,’ ‘slide / modulate,’ ‘move,’ ‘expand / contract,’ and ‘active / inactive.’

Our video presentation encompassed a visual collection of gestures and insights gathered all throughout the research process. We filmed these gestures so that our clients in Silicon Valley would have something to take back to the BMW team in Munich.

3D Prototyping (Tangible)

Seams & Transitions

We wanted to consider seams and transitions, for which we joined two layers of the leather fabric and held them together with top stitches; thus creating a seam to break the monotony of a plain surface. The goal was to see how projections translated over seams.

Project Outcome

For several weeks, I presented the final presentation with our deliverable to the client. The client was very pleased with the final deliverables and passed the information to the head quarters in Munich, Germany where they would progress more exploration based on our teams research.

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