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Distracted driving × Driver Awareness Research Vehicle 

Distracted driving × Driver Awareness Research Vehicle 

Distracted Driving × Driver Awareness Research Vehicle 

Distracted driving × Driver Awareness Research Vehicle 

Distracted driving × Driver Awareness Research Vehicle 

Timeline
2 months  ◍  2014

Company
Infosys  ◍  Client: Toyota USA

Company
Infosys  ◍  Client: Toyota USA

Role
Wireframes, Interactions, Visual Design

Role
Wireframes, Interactions, Visual Design

In brief

In brief

Toyota’s Driver Awareness Research Vehicle, called DARV 1.5, aimed to explore the dynamics of driver distraction and demonstrate ways to reduce it with the help of conditioning models. Toyota DARV 1.5 used Microsoft’s Surface and Kinect along with custom biometric software to help the driver, passengers and the vehicle itself work together as a team to achieve safer driving.

I was the UX designer on the team and worked alongside a project manager and three developers. I designed the navigational interface for the head unit of the car with a “driver lock-in” feature. I also designed a tablet app that could be used by passengers to send navigation routes to the driver.

The car was featured in Toyota’s Experience the Future of Mobility exhibit, at the 2014 Aspen Ideas Festival.

darv_photo

Background

Background

In an age of ever-increasing in-car entertainment, Toyota wanted to present a comprehensive vision for the Future of Mobility with an interactive exhibit that brings to life emerging automated vehicle technologies and cutting-edge safety research.

The DARV 1.5 showcased features such as “driver lock-in,” which tracks the driver’s body frame and automatically enables or disables features based upon who is interacting with the navigation panel. The research vehicle explored new ways of using wearable devices, such as smartwatches, to control key vehicle functions in an effort to understand the potential impact of these devices on auto safety. In addition, the Toyota DARV 1.5 also looked at new ways to create a safer driving environment by measuring driver behavior and providing a driving “score” based on safe driving choices.

My team was given the task of designing and implementing the "driver lock-in" feature for the navigation panel on the head unit interface. 

Strategy

The client shared their requirement specification document and research reports. Their research showcased how regular mid-market cars all featured a plethora of displays and controls, all vying for attention and increasing the risk of driver distraction. The research indicated that when drivers drive over 20mph and interact with the head unit interface they run a high risk of compromising their own safety as well as that of passengers, pedestrians, and people in other vehicles.

To combat this, they proposed a "driver lock-in" proof of concept that would lock the interface if the driver tried to interact with it while driving over 20mph. The interface could only be used by the front seat passenger in this scenario. This would be implemented with the help of a Kinect to recognize and differentiate between the driver and front seat passenger.

After reading their report and specifications document, I created a storyboard to depict what the user's ride would look like with the proposed DARV system. I found storyboarding to be useful in validating the client’s requirements and bringing the concept to life in a way that anyone in the team could grasp and engage with.

darv_storyboard

DARV 1.5 Storyboard

Process

I worked with the product manager to create a flow diagram and layout all the touchpoints involving the head unit display and the passenger tablet. I then moved on to designing wireframes to experiment with different layouts and flows and get early buy-in from stakeholders.

There were many challenges in designing a distraction-free interface for the head unit display. The interface needed to be uncluttered and glanceable with large fonts and high contrast. I had to ensure that the navigation buttons were accessible to the driver. The size of the touch areas had to be big enough, and there needed to be sufficient space between different elements to avoid unintended taps. 

darv_wireframe_grid_1

Wireframes

While the client proposed a simple interaction model of disabling the interface for the driver, I introduced 2 additional interaction models:

01.  Automatically hide elements on the interface when not in use, to prevent them from blocking the view of the map. For example, the keyboard and search bar would hide if there were no interactions for 20 seconds, giving the driver a better view of the map at all times. 

02.  Automatically hide any overlayed elements on the interface when the driver reaches over to touch the screen. For example, if the front seat passenger opened Search, the keyboard and search bar would hide if the driver reached over to touch the interface while driving over 20mph. This too would give the driver a better view of the map at all times. 

 While I was working on the wireframes, the development team was looking into tracking the driver's hand gesture using the Kinect. 

Once the wireframes were completed and approved by stakeholders, they were shared with the development team. I then moved on to creating high fidelity mockups in Photoshop. The interface fonts, icons, and style were created as per Toyota's automotive design system.

Design response

Demonstration of the DARV 1.5 interface published by The C3 Report (Sep 7, 2014)

Demo of the interaction between the passenger tablet and  the head unit

Reflection

For this project, the design of the user flow and interface was confined to the solution shared by the client. Had the client approached my team with a problem statement rather than a solution the design intervention would have been more considerate of the needs of the end-user. As a junior designer, I didn't feel empowered enough to push back on the solution the client proposed and ended up executing their vision rather than exploring the context of the end-user. Because of the NDA, I didn't have the opportunity to test out my designs with users. 

Although I enjoyed interacting directly with the client and translating their goals to design solutions, the lack of user feedback, the inability to work in an agile iterative fashion made me yearn for opportunities where I could work directly with end-users to solve their needs in addition to business goals.

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© 2019 Dolcie Dass

© 2019 Dolcie Dass

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© 2019 Dolcie Dass

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