Don’t become a phone booth – designing an adventure motorcycle interaction
I’m old enough to remember the boxy phone booths on our street corners. Now we have smartphones and make calls everywhere we want. This makes the interaction with the phone booth, and the phone booth itself, obsolete. Over time most product interactions become obsolete due to technical advancements and/or changed social behaviour. By designing the future interaction in relation to the future context, we make sure that the future product remains relevant.
In a previously article we defined a future context, our vision on the future. The interaction to go along with this context can be designed. In this article I define and explain the desired interactions that I want the adventure motorcycle to have and how it interacts in the world around us. Consequently the interaction has a large influence on what we develop, its our guidance. That is why we do this exercise.
From the context we defined, we distilled a context statement. See it as our position within the that context. We defined the following:
“We want to escape the digitised and automated environment and reinforce “analog” adventure.”
Using the above statement we defined the interaction qualities that underline this context statement. The focus here is on reinforcing “analog” adventure. In addition to this, some interaction qualities follow from the broader context. They are must haves to remain relevant in the future context. We distilled the following 6 qualities, which we will further discuss in the following paragraphs:
Automation, robotics, augmented reality and artificial reality are wonderful developments. They will have a predominantly positive effect on our lives. Still, with all the possibilities and benefits, there is also beauty in shape, texture, weight, resistance, feeling and manual control. And it’s these authentic analog elements that we want to champion in the interaction with the user.
So, does this exclude the use of advanced technology, automation and AI? No, not at all. Authentic analog elements and interactions form the base. Digital technology is added where it supports the analog experience and interaction, instead of substituting it. They can very well coexist.
You can plan whatever you like, but during an adventure you can expect the unexpected. What you need is flexibility, capability and being fit for purpose. No matter the conditions, it should be capable of handling heat, snow, water and dirt. When you don’t have to worry about your equipment you can focus on the joys the adventure brings.
Besides the capability, it should also look and feel capable. A flimsy looking product will most likely not encourage you to go onto an adventure. It should be built for adventure, Build to Discover.
When we interact with people, getting an instant response is not always very pleasing. It can be felt as aggressive. In fact, a silence in a conversation can be very powerful. In general, the opposite is true for devices and machines. The interaction should be responsive. Who doesn’t know the feeling of frantically pressing a button on an irresponsive device? Irritating.
A responsive interaction is felt as alert, quick, reactive and direct, nimble and lightweight. Translating this to riding a motorcycle and you have direct and linear acceleration, lightweight handling and confident braking. But it also means upgradable electronics and software. A new iPhone feels blindingly fast the moment its new. Two years later and it is noticeably slower due to demanding software and us getting used to the speed.
Old English sportscars are renowned for their responsiveness. On a lower lever, their can be equal satisfaction in operating a well weighted volume dial.
Occasionally you see or use a product and you simply think: “Why didn’t I think of this!” Often a solution simple and elegant. It can be as simple as a practical storage compartment in a forgotten space, or tools positioned in a position where you expect them to be. Sometimes this means that a small concession in one area creates a larger advantage in another area. Or linking data from two devices enables simple yet novel features.
A clever interaction gives you a smile on your face. It is thoughtful, practical and smart.
The An Umbrella (left) stored away in the door opening. Exactly where you need it when you need it. Sharing data between devices initiate simple smart features susch as an ‘away’ modus.
During an adventure you are basically always a guest to other countries, communities or to nature. The polite thing to do is to blend-in. With so many different cultures, you can’t satisfy everyone all the time. The expressive styling of a Ferrari or Lamborghini can be quite polarising. Electric powertrains are maybe the epitome of sophistication. Quiet yet capable.
One of the treats of adventure is connecting with the local people. Sophisticated products have the ability to blend-in while maintaining visible and interesting enough to create conversation.
Sophisticated details (left) without being flashy or obnoxious. A loud exhaust (right) may not be the best way to blend in.
Most products are designed to be thrown away. We create it, we consume it, we dispose it. This is a linear economy, from cradle to grave. The alternative is a circular economy. We design and create products that can be updated and modified, so they are long lasting. They are Build to Last. Once even the updated product is not capable of meeting demands, it is crushed into the bare resource and used for a total new product.
It is not typical an interaction that you directly notice by using the product as a user. So, why is this relevant as an interaction? It means that either products are designed in such a way that they remain interesting to us, or stay relevant through modifications.
The circular economy is based on reusing products through upgrading or by returning the resources to its source.
The context statement, as developed in the previous blog on the future context, gave us direction for developing the desired interaction.
Context statement: We want to escape the digitised and automated environment and reinforce “analog” adventure.
From this statement we developed 6 interaction qualities, that we believe are fitting to the context and the user.
The next step is to actually design the product. Every part we create can be tested along the lines of the desired interaction and prevents us from becoming a phone booth!
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