A strategic mobility service in collaboration in collaboration with BMW and 5 months Master Thesis project.
The goal for the project was to create a holistic service vision about mobility of the future. In connection to that specifically explore the notion of what if mobility becomes a platform for experiences and applications in a world of autonomous driving and connected services compared to a classic ownership scenario we know today. Another goal of the project was to prototype the final result and make people understand the added value of connecting many touchpoint into a holistic service in comparison of thinking in singular isolated vehicle features. For that reason the final results includes 3 prototypes: An interactive mobility app, an interactive in-car screen experience as well as an interactive vehicle side-window which was prototyped with a 1:1 interactive and physical design model, sensors and a 4K screen.
The service builds on 8 critical touchpoint that have been identified in the research as the biggest opportunities in a mobility user journey. These touchpoints connect seamless and aim to elevate the mobility service experience. The identified and selected general mobility context was traveling long distances with multiple people which has been discovered as a scenarios which includes many pain-points. However many final solutions are also valuable for other mobility scenarios like traveling alone. The service aims to create a long-term relationship between user and service. It also displays how the autonomous mobility future provides a new space for new collaboration of different industries that didn’t had interaction in the past.
Xplore allows users to book curated experience packages that include everything needed for the journey provided by service partners. Furthermore the vehicle acts as proactive AI companion that is a part of the group and takes part of the conversation. Every passenger has the chance to add mobility upgrades before the journey starts: This can range from renting a Go-Pro to hardware equipment necessary for the destination. When entering the vehicle all items are delivered and the digital content provides everyone with an overview of the journey ahead. During the drive digital content will enable people to connect to the destination and prepare themselves for the upcoming activity. One major part of the project was the aspect of hardware. In this case new user requirements and digital content lead to new hardware requirements: The "Window of the Future" is a Transparent-OLED window takes advantage of cameras outside of the vehicle that support autonomous driving and enables people to switch from transparent to virtual during the drive. By using the digital content from the cameras user can go back in time and see things they just passed by. Furthermore the aim was to create a long term value through this service: Therefore all users have controls to take photos or to do bookmarks - content that later on is available on the mobile app of each user and can be shared.
Human-centered and iterative design process.
BMW Xplore aims to remove pain-points in mobility through a human-centred and iterative design process that included rapid prototyping and immersion from the very beginning. Furthermore there were many learnings from autonomous mobility scenarios we already know today like train, plane or tourist busses like a London Bus Tour. By researching how people behave and what problems they face in these scenarios designers can draw many parallels to future autonomous vehicle mobility. Besides immersive research also user interviews were used to talk with people about their problems with mobility. Later in the process these collaborative sessions were used to showcase ideas, concepts and most importantly prototypes to get feedback from people if these would solve their problems and if they think it would improve their experience. Prototyping was an essential aspect in this process because especially if its about digital services people have a hard time imagine the added value. Therefore role playing and prototyping directly in the vehicle were further tools.
The following sections will give insights on each user journey touchpoint as well as the thought process behind the design and conception.
Curated Experiences that live on mobility as a platform.
Xplore allows users to book curated experiences where the vehicle is the platform and base to carry out and enable these experiences. These experiences aim to safe time and on the other side make sure its a well thought-out plan: tickets, the vehicle, the route, POVs and equipment are included. Third-party brands have the chance of designing these experiences. In a autonomous case the vehicle could pick up all passengers fully prepared for the journey.
The vehicle as a proactive intelligent companion.
Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning took a central role in this project. The vehicle, empowered by these information technologies, will take part of the group conversation. The mobile application aims to democratise mobility and serves all passengers (not just the initiator) on all critical information aspects for example what is the route, start time or what’s included. It also answers questions about the vehicle and helps to divide costs for instance.
On-Demand Mobility Upgrades.
"Upgrades" are a way for passengers to personalize their experience. These divide into different upgrade categories ranging from curated packs and trunks to general shop items that might me needed for a longer journey. Provider for these upgrades could be delivered to the vehicle beforehand or provides by local dealers. This could provide the users with equipment for the specific destination-activity or deliver more generic items. This is especially interesting for people if the car is rented and they don’t have access beforehand. This solutions would enable people an instand and seamless start of the journey.
Hospitality in a shared mobility and service context.
At next touchpoint in the user journey the user gets welcomed via a personal message and overview of the journey. The user can see his/her deliveries on the seat which enables a more fluent start of the journey: no more pick-ups of items at the start of the journey which annoys the other passengers. Furthermore the interface gives people an overview about the journey, route and when highlights (like an interesting environment) will occur.
The Window of The Future.
To enable the aspect of “Discovery”, which was concluded out of the project research as an opportunity to remove boredom as well as to help people to learn and connect with their surroundings, new hardware was required to integrate a framework that is fully integrated into the vehicle. The Window is based on TOLED technology (Transparent Organic Light-Emitting Device) which allows AR/VR applications. To archive this the window can turn digital, either on certain parts for (example to show AR information about the mountain you see on the other side) or turn completely virtual (VR).
The TimeDrive is a new way to interact with the environment in a transportation context. It turns the vehicle window into a virtual time machine that lets the user travel into the past and into the future. By connecting with the cameras outside of the vehicle which are integrated into the exterior and by using the recordings (that usually get used for autonomous driving safety purposes) and show this video content on the TOLED window (by going from transparent to virtual) the user will be able to control his/her reality and travel in time. To activate this time-travel functionality the window has an interactive wheel called the “TimeDrive”. By rotating it counterclockwise the window will turn from transparent to virtual and show what the user just passed on his way and potentially missed. The concept comes from the scenario many people experienced: passing something exciting but missed to look out of the window at that moment and the frustration connected to that. Furthermore this would also allow the user to see how the future will look like. By using cloud content of other vehicles that drove on the route before. This interaction and experience will be activated by turning the TimeDrive clockwise. The amount of cameras implemented in vehicles increasing dramatically because of autonomous driving efforts which will improve the experience quality over time.
Contextual AR Applications.
A central reason of the Window of the Future’s technical abilities is to enable the user to discover the environment he or she is traveling through. When people get a short information or background story about a space it turns from boring to exciting. The transparent windows with the ability to turn virtual in certain areas can for example to show typography and descriptions over the reality. These are available as “contextual AR application” which can be selected in the overview that appears when approaching the window interaction area. The user can then use gesture to select the application he wants to use. The more relevant the application for the story the more prominent it will be displayed. When traveling to mountains curated content from “Discovery Channel” would be a fitting example and would be showed in the list in the very beginning. This allows the users to quickly view if curated content is available.
Further functionalities come are inspired by researching how user record their memories. The Window would additionally enable user to Zoom into the view, stop the moment, do images, videos or experience the view in slow motion. Interior cameras that increasingly get used in vehicles for safety issues will make sure the view perspective stays aligned and correct when performing these functions. The user research showed that people like to have active controls and don’t want everything automated.
During the journey the curated infotainment system allows people to feel connected to the destination through local information and curated content. Furthermore the system recommends video content for the upcoming activity at the destination: for example a video with climbing tips. Even if the group is standing in traffic these recommendations would make use out of the time. The lines in the top of the screen show when highlights on the journey will occur and provide everyone with an overview. Current weather at the destination and how it will change is another chapter. Enabling everyone to access and anticipate on the music that plays in the vehicle is another aspect of democratisation. Further topics are: making images and infos shareable among everyone in the car, enabling access to insights about the destination or the planned activity to be as prepared as possible.
During the research users described “collecting” and “sharing” of an experience as a very fragmented interaction due different applications and tools. Furthermore people often forget interesting things they discovered and saw during a mobility scenario. The hardware and software synergy aspect in this project aims to simplify this. The “Window of the Future” is enabling a quick and direct way to make bookmarks and images. By using the X Button on the TimeDrive at the window users can bookmark what they just discovered and want to remember - just like people do bookmarks in their internet browser. Further features are image and video controls. The user can then see the bookmarks, images, his past journeys in the mobile application and share his experience.