Applying narrative and fiction to my thesis has really helped me think deeper about the human in cars. For example, I started thinking about the car as a character in a story. The car's perspective of identity and place in time. I ended with this.
I am a box. A moving box of incoming and outgoing data. I call my self wheels, doors, windows. Gasoline, engine, oil. Radio, AUX jack, volume knob. Seats, fans, hot and cold. Metal, rubber, plastic. I am bluetooth, and internet, and rarely am I static. I am made up of patterns. Pre sets which become contained souls of my operator. I’m blind to the others. We merge often, and I’m left with the scars of moments in time. Experiences of injury and death, natural disaster and geography.
I am property. I’m someones morning coffee and news broadcast. A conversation about local development and sports teams. I’m a first date, and a new addition to the family. I’m a best friends favorite story, and a road trip to the west. Eventually I will decay and be replaced. But some of me will travel to my replacement. I will be reincarnated by pre sets, and patterns. I will live on in what I share with my operators memories. Places. Moments. Relationships. Identity.
I am a box of data. Learning new languages, growing eyes and ears. I am evolving senses and capabilities. I am you and you are me.
What's really compelling about cars is the mental organization to personalizing and owning your own vehicle. But the reason for this mental organization is largely due to the very static interfaces that are produced out of haptic design principals and technological constraints. Right now we are in the middle of major technological shift that is lifting the constraints on having a greater ability to personalize your experience. At one side of this is the addition of screens and non static interfaces. These bring their own challenges when implementing them into a safe driving experience, but thoughtfully done, they add a ton of value for personalization. The other side of this is connected vehicles that react to any user's personal data and context. For example right now HMI designers have put everything on the table in terms of features and buttons for users to take action, which has led to these over complicated dashboards and steering wheels. But with the addition of a non-static interface that can change due to context, morning routines can be built into the experience. Our cars are getting smarter and they want to help. I see this as an opportunity to reduce much of the cognitive load from the driver to the car. There will always be that challenge of balancing manual control fidelity to auto control, but there are a lot of "dumb" objects in cars that can be made smarter.