Transportation assistant for the smart home
ME310 is a three-quarter design challenge for students studying design methodology at Stanford. I teamed up with four software engineers from Hasso Plattner Institute in Potsdam, and two mechanical engineers from Stanford, to “bring the Audi experience into smart home industry“ for our client: Volkswagen Electronics Research Laboratory in Silicon Valley.
Punctuality is a timeless virtue. Yet with all of our modern technologies, one in five Americans still arrive late to work at least once a week. Being on time is even more difficult when coordinating schedules between multiple drivers and family members, with unexpected traffic and weather condition. And as car ownership declines in the near future, urban families will have to depend on more diverse transportation options with less predictable travel times, further complicating the mental calculations required to ensure timely arrival.
This is where enosys comes in.
On October 2015, we got the design challenge from Volkswagen:
“Create the devices and experiences that unite the car and the Smart Home for Audi customers.”
With the Smart Home promising a future of convenience and intelligence at home, what could the future hold for Audi? As a provider of mobility and personal branding, we must consider how to provide value to our customers beyond the physical constraints of our vehicles. Looking for 3-5 years in the future, how might we free our experience from these physical bounds and create the devices and experiences that will serve as Audi’s presence in the Smart Home?
Stanford University: Maggie Xu, Zhipeng Hu, Dylan MooreHasso Plattner Institute: Martin Fritzsche, Jonathan Herdt, Jonas Kemper, Johanna LattMy Roles: Product Designer, UX Researcher, Interaction Designer, Visual Designer
To understand current state of car and home technology, we visited Audi City in Berlin, Target Openhouse in San Francisco and Volkswagen Lab in Belmont to play with existing smart products. We also tried some DIY projects, for example, turning on a home light by turning off a car engine.
We learned from benchmarking that nowadays both home and car are technically sophisticated yet there are very few products dealing with the transition between those two spaces. Then we visited a few Audi drivers' home and observed their behaviors before leaving home. We also conducted interviews on more than 50 users with focus on: family schedule, transit options, and general home and car experience. I made a few graphs to visualize our findings.
Among all Audi drivers we interviewed, we found one user group especially interesting: young professionals with kids. They travel more frequently and usually have diverse commute needs. They are also more likely to adopt smart home technology. We then created our user persona based on this target group.
When conducting interviews, we see Audi as a mobility provider instead of just being a car manufacturer. We also notice that when people talk about smart home, it is not only about home automation, but also about family relationship: how can technology help create a pleasant family experience? So after rounds of brainstorming and synthesizing, we define our problem statement as: "How might Audi, as a mobility provider, provide a transportation solution for all family members?"
Sketching and Storyboarding
How shall we define the 'optimal transit option'? People tend to be late, how could we undisruptively remind them to leave? Should it be something at home or a mobile app? How is user going to interact with it? We call it enosys, which means "union" in Greek. Once we decided to design enosys, a family transportation assistant, we went through a series of design decisions. And I then sketched out some ideas and storyboarding based on our discussion.
Home device + companion mobile app
During observation and interview, we learned that people would not usually have phones with them in the morning when at home. Time in the morning is precious and people tend to be in a rush; we need something that users can easily refer to and interact with. While not at home, it's necessary to deliver the same information to users and mobile phone seems an ideal choice.
Interaction via a physical knob and voice
We imagine enosys as a replacement of traditional calendar or clock, which will be hang on the wall and requires minimal interaction. Compared to tapping and clicking on the screen, a knob under screen is easier to reach and can accomplish most interaction. Simple command like "order an Uber" could be done via voice.
Time reminding via lighting
We don't want enosys to be intrusive. With different colors representing each family member, users should get a sense of when to leave at just a glance.
Below is a nice drawing from our German teammates for storyboarding.
Critical Functional Prototype
Introducing Audi Enosys
Poster for Stanford Design EXPErience Conference
Click here to access final documentation of Audi Enosys
The ME310 Design Journey
One design process is never linear. One of the most fascinating things about ME310 is that we have the luxury to try out crazy ideas (diverge) before we settle down on a design decision (converge). We actually ended up spending almost two quarters prototyping ideas that seem unrelated to our final product. Below are some examples of our previous ideas. Click here if you are interested to learn more about ME310 design process and the global SUGAR network.
Enosys Demo Day
The ME310 Loft