OUR

PROTOTYPE JOURNEY

Two-way In-Car Audio

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Communication between front and back row is a challenge especially in large cars. Background noise or open windows make it hard to understand other passengers. How might we create a system to support soft spoken individuals?

Phone Booth

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The main activity of business persons in a taxi: phone calls. But how can we create a place inside the car to communicate privately without interruptions?

Mirror Prototype

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Does seeing the opponent's gestures and mimics improve the conversation quality? And can we create the feeling of an in-person conversation without seeing the communication partner directly?

Zoom Call in Car

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Is it possible to have visual feedback of the other passengers in the car? And does it improve the feeling of an in-person conversation when seeing the mimics of the communication partner while driving?

What about motion sickness?

Remote Driving Game

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Usually, the driver has a fixed seat in the front of the car. But what if you could steer anywhere inside or outside the car?
 

Remote Driving Video Call

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Can a remote person pick up traffic situations when filming the cockpit from the driver's perspective? What perspectives does the remote person need to understand the situation of the passengers?

Projector In Cars

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How can a long car ride feel more exiting and refreshing? Is it possible to transform the car into a forest or a submarine? How can the passengers inside of the car experience immersive scenarios?

Car Butler

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This prototype enables parents to monitor their children in an autonomous car. In the 'car butler' app they can see videos of the child and surroundings, the location and basi status information about the car situation.

Driving Buddy

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More and more people have to deal with lonelyness. Especially elderly people use taxi rides to talk to the driver. How might we create communicative scenarios like that in autonomous cars? Let's put taxi drivers, therapists and entertainers virtually next to the passengers!

360° Car Call

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How does the way of communication change when video calling with multiple cameras in- and outside of the car?

What perspectives work best? And does the shared awareness really improve the communication quality?

Doll Communication

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Does the remote communication feel more in-person like when speaking to a physical doll with some visual characteristics of the communication partner?

Detailed PROTOTYPEs

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Story

How might we enable passengers to feel like having an in-person conversation? Especially regarding the audibility between front and back row in the car. For the driving parent in the front row, it is a need to interact with the children in the back row of the car.
The prototype was built by connecting two persons in the first and third row of a car with a two-way speaker and microphone setup. Another speaker simulated road noise to make testing feel as realistic as possible. 

Hypothesis: Two-way audio communication enables conversations between rows without raising voice volume.

Feedback

•"Particularly when the background noise was turned on, I could understand the person in the driver's seat much better with the help of the system."

•"I think this system is beneficial. I could hear the other person much better. But sometimes I wanted to turn around to see the facial expressions."

Learnings

•Soft-spoken individuals benefited from the system.

•Gestures and visual communication still felt lacking, so we decided to do more iterations on our idea with the following prototypes.

Two-way In-Car Audio

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Story

Does seeing the opponent's gestures and mimics improve the conversation quality? And can we create the feeling of an in-person conversation without seeing the communication partner directly?
To test that, we installed a wall between two test subjects. A mirror was the only way to see the other person during the conversation. We covered different parts of the mirror during the experiment to distinguish between facial expressions and gestures.

Hypothesis: Mimics and gestures improve conversation quality.

Feedback

•“This is definitely worse than Zoom. The sound is coming from the wrong direction.”

•“It felt better when I was able to see his face.”

Learnings

•Strange that sound comes from the wrong direction

•Possibility to have natural conversations

•A big advantage over a conversation without seeing the other person

Mirror prototype

 
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Story

The driving parent wants to interact with the children in the back row. Is it also possible to have visual feedback in the car during this communication? And does it improve the feeling of an in-person conversation when seeing the mimics of the communication partner while driving?
The two test persons were driving in a car. For the driver, a smartphone was attached to the air conditioning vents. The test person in the back of the car placed a laptop on the lap. We initiated a video call between both devices.

Hypothesis: A zoom call provides visual communication feedback in the car. 

Feedback

•“I feel really sick now! Can we please stop the testing?”

•“This is really shaking a lot!”

•One test person talks to the driver but looks out of the side window all the time while talking (→ one could not see front of her face in the camera and she was not interested in the screen)

•“I like the possibility to watch the screen but the traffic is very busy here. It feels a bit distracting from driving now.”

Learnings

•Video worked well but latency compared to real audio

•Shaking and motion sickness as issues

•Drivers mostly ignored the video screen

Zoom Call in Car

 
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Story

How might we help business travelers to have private calls while being on the go?
This prototype addresses whether we can build a phone booth that does not leak confidential information to the outside world. The implementation inside a car is of secondary importance for now. The wooden box is lined with nap foam/sound panels that you can find in recording studios. We tested with two people at a time. One person sat down inside the box and started a phone call. The other person outside the box was asked to pick up the telephone conversation contents.
Hypothesis: People outside the phone booth cannot hear conversations from inside.

Feedback

•“He sounds muffled, but I think I can understand most of the conversation.”

•After turning up the background noise: “Now I cannot hear him anymore.”

•“I was very unsure how loud to speak inside the box. I feel like I screamed because there was completely no echo.”

Learnings

•People inside not audible at background noise of 60 dB (equals in-car noise) 

•Without background noise, the voice sounded muffled, but most of the content could be picked up. 

•Acoustic panels only cancel echo but are not soundproof. To isolate sound, heavy materials that do not ”vibrate” easily and airtight seals work better. 

•Acoustic foam is valuable in terms of comfort but the lack of echo makes the estimation of volume more difficult.

•Initial interim tests without sound panels in the wooden box: unpleasantly loud, with echo and “too much sound”

•Window is crucial to feel comfortable while facing the wall felt more constricting

•Pleasant working atmosphere (no distractions)

phone booth

 
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Story

Usually, the driver has a fixed seat in the front of the car. But what if you could steer anywhere inside or outside the car?
Remote control would enable completely new links between people and cars. Parents could sit next to their children in the back seat while driving, or you could bring the car to you when it is parked far away. We see this idea as a potential step on the way towards autonomous driving.
Seven test persons were asked to drive a car with gaming equipment.

Hypothesis: Steering the car from anywhere – like in a video game – feels like normal driving.

Feedback

•"I would not like to sit in a car that is remotely controlled by someone else. – I would rather sit in an autonomous car".

Learnings

•Everyone lacked a sense of speed and danger assessment in front of the screen

•Question: How does the feeling of road safety arise among passengers in a car?

Remote driving game

 
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Story

On the way to autonomous driving, remote driving might be an intermediate step. With this prototype, we tested how the remote driver feels when being responsible for driving a car while not sitting in it. A possible use case would be the driving parent driving the child when being at work.

Hypothesis: Traffic situations can be picked up by a remote person when filming the cockpit from the driver's perspective.

Feedback

•Through a video call, view out of the front of the car was possible, and speed could be estimated roughly.

•"It does not feel like being responsible for the passengers and driving the car."

•More sensors are beneficial for having a full overview of what the car is doing.

Learnings

•For remote driving, the environment of the driver needs to be designed in a way to make the driver feel responsible for the car

•Additional sensors and video cameras are useful to get a better feeling of what the car is doing

Remote driving video call

 
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Story

Car passengers in cities feel stuck and confined when driving through cities. To overcome that feeling of being trapped, we developed projections in the car for the back row passengers. On these projections, an enjoyable environment can be displayed, synchronized to the car movement to prevent motion sickness.

Hypothesis: Uber commuters in boring areas enjoy having a changing environment while commuting.

Feedback

•Testers liked the new experience in the car and compared it to a VR experience.

•Synchronization of video and car movement was not perfect, and some testers felt motion sick

•"The drive was a bit disorienting, as I did not know where the car was moving to."

Learnings

•Projection in cars can be used to make to ride more enjoyable

•Content of projection is a topic to think about further

•This could be used to trigger emotions for passengers and arise feelings in humans

•Synchronization between video and driving needs to work seamlessly to prevent motion sickness

Projector In Cars

 
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Story

In a world with autonomous vehicles, the busy parent could enable his child to commute without him individually. 

The car has tracking features, a two-way communication channel, and makes sure that only the allowed people enter the vehicle.

Hypothesis: Parents can interact with their children in situations where it is required.

Feedback

•Tested with 7 parents.

•Concerns about the pricing of a car with specialized features. Maybe carsharing could be a solution.

•Parents liked the idea.

Learnings

•There are specific interaction points that are interesting to look at

•Focus on one exact interaction point and differentiate the product

car butler

 
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Story

Assuming we have autonomous cars, there is no car driver available. Uber drivers mentioned, that one of their key roles is to have conversations with passengers. As loneliness is a crucial problem for elderly people this interaction point is essential for them.
Providing car passengers with a real person to talk to while being in the car is the core of the driving buddy idea.  In the car, a real conversation is started with a person who fits one's needs. It could be a psychologist, a friend, or anyone.

Hypothesis: Conversations with the driving buddy feel like conversations with the Uber driver

Feedback

•It was mentioned that people do not want to talk to someone who is paid for talking to you.

•"If I was in the car, I would spend my time by using the smartphone".

Learnings

•Only a specific group of people wants to have conversations in a car

•Determining who wants to talk at the moment is not easy

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getting to the final product

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Story

We assume that phone calls with drivers do not flow very often because there is no shared awareness. For example the person on the phone does not know when the driver is parking. Then it would be best to make a short break to ensure that the driver can listen all the time.

For testing we installed three cameras in the car: driver cam, car front, and car back. Then we called testers and had a 20 minute conversation with them while we were driving around. The testers could what was going on in the car from all those camera angles.

Hypothesis: When placing multiple video cameras inside the car the communication partner outside the car can understand the situation of the driver (shared awareness).

Feedback

•"I feel like a co-driver."

•"The front camera view is great! I really like to watch it."

•"This is more interactive than a normal phone call. It felt a little bit like being outside even though I wasn't."

Learnings

•All testers used the front camera, where they could watch the road, most of the time.

•The testers stopped talking when they assumed a difficult traffic situation even though we did not explain the concept of shared awareness beforehand.

•Conversation between driver and someone outside has an imbalance: While the driver has to focus on the road and can only share part of his attention with the call, the testers sat in front of their desk and did not do anything else.

360° CAR call

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Story

We assume that the feeling of an in-person conversation is supported by the physical presence of the conversation partner. To make the driver not feeling like being on the phone we dressed a doll, attached a face, and placed it on the co-driver's seat. We also set the sound of the car to play from the front right corner. The test person was then asked to drive the car while having a phone call.

Hypothesis: The driver experiences a more in-person like communication when the sound is comming from a dressed doll on the co-driver's seat.

Feedback

•"I didn't perceive the doll all the time, but you definitely notice that the car is not empty."

•"Because of the cap, you noticed the "co-driver" more often."

Learnings

•No tester really interacted with the doll

•Most testers have the feeling that they are not alone in the car when the doll sits on the seat next to them

doll communication