Created for the Design in Public Spaces course at SVA MFA in Interaction Design, Helmet Head is a concept for a digital biking companion that encourages novice bikers to overcome their fear of biking in the city.
Everyone's talking about the health benefits of biking to work, but biking in the city is not so much difficult as it is... scary. Faced with a cacaphony of traffic, pedestrians, and other bikers, what's one novice biker to do?
Take one custom bike helmet and outfit it with bluetooth speakers. Pair it with a smartphone app, and load it up with voice-based turn-by-turn directions. Add a social layer whereby other, more experienced bikers, can submit encouragement and location-specific advice, and finally round out the data sources with traffic and weather reports: You've now got yourself a personal biking buddy for even the most daunting of city roads.
Process & Challenges
At the very beginning, we started out with a very broad brief: to design a solution for a problem, any problem, faced by New York City's many runners, bikers and walkers.
To identify potential problems, we began by surveying existing products, government initiatives, community groups, and issues surrounding running, biking and walking in New York City. We also spoke with city dwellers who did and did not bike.
Through these interviews, we discovered a near-universal fear of biking in the streets. People considered it "unsafe," despite acknowledging its health and environmental benefits. Knowing this, we decided to focus our attention on the problem of encouraging more people to bike.
We set to work sketching many different ideas...
... until we hit upon one we found compelling: "haptic handlebars," a tangible, vibrations-based navigational aid embedded right in your bike handlebars.
To imagine how it would be experienced, we sketched out user stories to give ourselves a more vivd picture of how this as-yet nonexistent product might be used.
The user stories effectively conveyed the idea to fellow students, but it also revealed potential problems with it: vibrational cues were limited in their expressive power, and would require the user to memorize a "vocabulary" of vibrational patterns. Eventually, we realized we had to "kill our darling."
So we evolved the idea further, into its final iteration: a custom helmet with embedded speakers, paired with a mobile navigation smartphone app. We produced a new set of user journey sketches to illustrate the experience and get further feedback from our peers.
The final deliverable was a video that demonstrates how someone might use this imaginary product.
In collaboration with
Allison Shaw, Carrie Stiens, Kristin Breivik
Design for Public Spaces course, SVA MFA in Interaction Design
I worked on
concept development, user research, storyboarding, illustration, video voiceover