Orange Silicon Valley teamed up with the mighty San Francisco Bay Area UX/UI/XD Design Meetup, which boasts more than 3,500 members, to explore the theme of “Designing UX for Autonomous Cars and User Interfaces.” This was the latest in a new monthly Design-themed event series at our offices, with future topics such as Voice UI and Connected Cities on tap.
Based on the advance signups and standing-room-only crowd that showed up, both traditional and new members of the design community have already taken an active interest in autonomous vehicles (AVs). Indeed, after a comprehensive overview from Orange Silicon Valley’s Gene Chien (standing in for Jonathan Salomon), the main program featured both new and veteran perspectives on rocking the automotive UX. As the first speaker, Vineet Mishra, a Senior UX Designer at Oracle, stated up front: “Everyone is working autonomous cars.”
Vineet’s talk illuminated the space from a design-centric perspective: AV’s implicate multi-use, and multi-touch challenges. Vineet did a great job of deconstructing how we think about cars — an owned, predictable asset under our total control — and reassembling the experience and new psychological paradigm in using (not driving!) these cars. An additional payoff from Vineet’s talk was his exemplary application of System Design principles to explore multiple use cases, such as commuting or departing for weekends in wine country, and how data is surfaced to support different intents that depend on the passengers’ unique situations.
Vineet explored an important theme, which is how to bridge the trust gap — and noted that we have done a lot of the work here already by using car-sharing services. It seems certain that Trust Design is a growth field, as heretofore behind-the-scene experiences like flying jumbo-jets by autopilot become more everyday and visible.
— Becky Pierson (@beckypierson) July 28, 2017
Trust is an important theme that was picked up by the next speaker. Karen Kaushansky, a self-described futurist, is arguably a veteran of the connected car, having designed voice assistants for automobiles since the mid ’90s. As head of UX for Noox — an autonomous shuttle for public conveyances such as airports — Karen brought her deep understanding of the multivariate design space for AV’s. In her opening remarks she noted that “we’re designing the unknown, and it’s going to take a village,” suggesting that the AV design space is a very big tent. Karen’s ability to see the entire interaction between passengers, vehicles, pedestrians and human drivers — what she calls the “social life of cars” — is impressive, and it reinforces the need for Systems Design approaches in this domain.
The vigorous Q&A that followed Karen and Vineet’s panel was a traffic jam at the intersection of traditional OEM design and next-gen AV/EV startups, designers, and graduate students — all expressing their needs and opinions. Ranging from a (skeptical) comment about “horizontal elevators,” to a car-hacker on the persistence of the jalopy, to the fragility of graduate-level work in a field that changes so fast, there is a diverse and energetic talent pool of designers ready to take the ride on the road to an autonomous future.