So after a summer of being in my head about thesis ideas, I embarked on a road trip home to pick up my life from Buffalo and move it to Brooklyn. I'm not a stranger to road trips by any means, growing up in a Robert Moses Influenced city, I'm used to driving to get pretty much get anywhere. The car is where I've experienced much of my early world, going on family road trips to the south, or going east to the coast, I've seen much of the US through a windshield. Before the program I drove across the country to drop my brother off in San Diego in our family Toyota Rav4 we shared in high school and college. I've grown to love the car as a symbol of agency and independence allowing me to control my short term destiny.
This unfortunately is changing. As we transition into a rapidly moving digital world, this vehicle of agency is becoming uncontrollable. Automakers are unable to keep up with the demands of the average 2015 human, and with dated design practices and legacy issues, there seems to be no real implementation of a driving experience that gives back control to the driver.
So what am I really talking about here?
Lets start with an example of a recent new comer to the Carmaking game. Tesla.
Tesla had an opportunity to re-approach and disrupt an area of car design that hasn't really changed at all. But after researching their approach, what it seems is they decided to replace buttons and knobs with a giant touchscreen, attempting to merge a legacy of design decisions with behaviors tied to muscle memory (haptic) and those of consumption and little utility (mobile devices). Screens have layers. Layers require decisions, and decisions take drivers attention away from the act of driving. I will get into the science and psychology more of how our brains work and the effects of task flows in the digital and physical world. But I think its a good place to end and begin with my first guiding question. As technology has given us an unyielding amount of opportunity to have more of everything, our brains are still programmed to operate in certain ways. With this being said, is it our next challenge to design ourselves around the technology, or the technology around us? and if the later then currently the driving experience is not only a total failure, but a failure rich with opportunity to have a naive interaction design student approach it.