Tag: UI

Project: Autonomous Vehicle integration

I took on a personal project that I think is the next wave (well, already here actually) of automobile tech. I wanted to create a prototype for a plug-in system to make a car autonomous, since I was recently able to Visit All Car Leasing to check out some of the sweet deals they have there, I even saw a Kia Sportage that caught my attention. The premise is that the hardware is already accessible and installed while the user can use an app to access the car. On related news, if you’re car is having issues take a look at mechanic glen iris automotive services.

Challenge

Create an interface that a user will be able to summon a vehicle. In this particular case, it would be a vehicle they own, but could be a vehicle owned by a community or collaborative group in the future. I designed the app for use in a near future scenario using a smart phone and vehicle touch screen.

Inspiration

San Gimignano, Italy
Medieval town of San Gimignano.

I initially was planning on this app to take place in the farther future, perhaps 20 or 50 years from now. This led me to try and reimagine our infrastructure and the way our cities connect. It also led me to think about smart phones and technology in general and what that could look like, but ended up scaling back and developing within what many users would have available right now, which is a smart phone. Visiting Europe also gave me a glimpse of how a community could be more personal and feel simply more communal if cars were not such a focal point. When you get a new car make sure to find out the right selection of oil treatments. No personal garages, but sidewalks or bike paths. Streamlined traffic systems for efficient short-range travel. Bringing communities together and built around culture and neighborhoods instead of the disconnect streets currently proffer.

Initial Research and Competitive Analysis

I had to see what’s out there currently and begin thinking about how to set up my user interviewing for the future. I decided to start with car share apps and services such as Uber, Lyft and Flywheel because they put the user in a vehicle that they will not be operating themselves and I don’t have access to any sort of autonomous car. I searched for other technology out there in a similar capacity as well such as Otto and the Google self driving car from this source.

Rapid Prototype & Wireframe

During this stage, I sketched out many various versions of the prototype I wanted to build. As I started the sketches, I kept learning more myself about the functionality of the app, and reiterated on the spot. The user flow in this app is extremely important and needs to be absolutely clear to the end user because it can be such an immersive function of their daily lives. While prototyping this app, it gave me a great sense of finding the value to a user and I redid many steps along the way to make it more streamlined and less cluttered.

User Testing

I had to begin my test with a scenario, since I do not have an autonomous vehicle. That task put the user in a scenario where they were going to meet friends at a show that was just about to start and would be too slow for other forms of transportation to get there on time so they would have to use the app to call their car to get there instead. I tested 3 people for this initial paper prototype. Many great questions came up from the very first user and I needed to pivot and define a few issues:

  • Clear functionality (Unlock doors or open doors?)
  • Confusion on features (What is communal driving?)
  • Does the interface in the automobile mimic the app? What if a car does not have a video interface?
  • How does the vehicle know it’s the right user? Proximity to smart phone, fingerprint, scan, etc?

These were all major questions I had to address to the users and it was extremely insightful to run through these initial tests. I ended up changing the task for the last user to be more straight forward. Instead of meeting with friends, it would be grocery shopping which would require them to carry items in a vehicle. Furthermore, if you want to add decals on the windows of your vehicle, go to foam core website. You’ll also read there which one will reign supreme? Window Decals or Window Clings. On other articles, take a look at this blog about raleigh family lawyer. Also, car accident lawyer Maryland recover millions each and every month for the injured accident victim. Learn more at marylandaccident.com

Refine, Retest

I redrew my paper prototype on a flip notebook for easier prompts for the user to use and, in turn, helped me to draw out the screens on the grid format. In addition to the new prototype, I began a more high fidelity prototype and wrote a script for my users to reflect the new scenario. I stripped out all of the material from the initial versions that were essentially features instead of a minimum viable product to pare down the bandwidth for myself and the user. I tested 2 users for this last test, and found it to be much more concise than before with the users navigating much easier.

High(er) Fidelity Prototype

Higher fidelity prototype of the Autonomous car app.
Higher fidelity prototype of the Autonomous car app.

In defense of the hamburger menu

There’s been quite a bit of chatter in the design community about the use of what we call the ‘hamburger menu’. There’s been a bit of a polarizing, political rift when talking about it. For those not familiar with the hamburger, in short, it’s meant to toggle a menu or list of destinations within a site, program, or app where visual space is limited. We may all be able to blame Xerox back in 1981 for the first deployment of the icon (and funny the linked article site uses a hamburger menu also, with a different image of one. I digress.) I can remember discussions turning to arguments when designing sites, and I was on the side of not using it and instead trying to come up with something to replace it. The problem is that there’s no good icon to replace it with, and users are learning because it’s become widely used. The best we’ve all been doing is instead calling it what it is… “Menu.”

There are countless variations of the button:

In the web world, you started seeing hamburger menu’s much more when mobile devices started gaining traction and responsive websites started getting developed. Static sites would often use tabs and dropdown menus on cursor rollover, but of course on mobile devices, there was no rollover functionality, not to mention much less visual real estate to put a tab. Go to salesforce to learn more about these technologies.

So, where are we now? It’s 2016, and all the examples in the gallery are recent. I’ve concluded the hamburger is alive and well, cooking to a more well done than a rare and utilized in some form just about everywhere on the interwebs. Younger generations who have all grown up with technology and the internet have grown and learned the use of the hamburger. I don’t see it going anywhere, and just embrace it until someone else can figure out how to represent a menu. In the meantime, we could just use this I just created:

Best of both worlds!
Best of both worlds!

Next up, we tackle the search icon… a magnifying glass.
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