SENOVA INTERACTION DESIGN (2015)

Interaction design had a key role in BAIC Offspace's winning the Auto China 2016's 'Best Concept Car' award

SCOPE: Research, definition, design and development

DOMAIN: Automotive and Services

Challenge

The Senova Offspace project had a twofold mission: to define an identity for the Senova brand and to imagine a new type of car for users, the future Chinese users, whose contexts, behaviors and preferences are undergoing profound changes. A key challenge was thus to design a car whose user experience plays an essential role in driving future desire, pleasure and, ultimtely, brand preference.

Approach

Based on a deep research into the future of Chinese users, three broad driving forces were identified. These gave strong direction for probing the needs and wants of the future Chinese users and generating ideas and concepts. The resulting target user experience was then translated into a detailed interior and interaction design, iteratively developed through virtual modeling, rapid prototyping and, eventually, built into a show car for Auto China 2016. 

Results

If the first driving force, 'Self-Expression,' translated mainly into the expressive and bold exterior styling of the car, the two others, however, drove mostly its interior and interaction design, putting communication to the fore ('bonding') and approaching interior as a personal, private bubble that can sense your body ('well-being'). The result wad a show car that was bestowed the Beijing Motor Show 2016 'Best Concept Car' award, thanks notably to its exploration of a new 'cabin life' experience. 

Our view

This project was extremelly rich from a content and interaction design point of view, exploring the possibilities offered by a large screen and sensors to bring smart & connected services into the car, leveraging the potential of haptics as a very effective yet unobtrusive feedback mechanism, or delving into how to enable easy but deep-reaching customization of the car interface instead of imposing a predefined model onto users.

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BAIC Offspace Safe Space Bubble

External sensors, seat-embedded haptics and subtle screen animations are used to communicate the notion of a 'safe space' bubble to the driver. Subtle haptic signals in the driver's seat indicate that a car is entering this 'safe' space and give a spatial indication of its location. Simultaneously, a visual feedback is also provided on screen. 

BAIC Offspace Configurable Hardware Buttons

In the context of a car, ergonomically-positioned hardware buttons have two major advantages over any other input mechanisms: they can be operated without necessitating to look at them and their use can be learned; in short, they can be easily operated out of muscle memory. However, instead of forcing the user to learn the hard way a predefined interaction model, the approach we followed with the BAIC Offspace was to offer an easy way to customize four sets of buttons: on the steering wheel and on either side of the trackpad.

Project delivered in
March 2016