See, hear, ride. The first hazard reporting system designed with the rider in mind.
Bonny Christopher, Chris Chung, Ryan Gerber
Few things compare to the experience of riding. From the feel of the bike beneath your body, to the way the tires grab the road as you round into a curve, nothing compares to the visceral immersion with the environment as the wind blows past your body. Yet, any feelings of exuberance and liberation aside, motorcyclists find themselves in dangerous and even life-threatening situations on a daily basis.
Unlike with cars, motorcycles afford little ability to shield the rider from the elements and accidents. The motorcyclists must constantly be aware of their current performance, their surroundings, and other vehicles on the road; all of which can be cognitively taxing in the best of situations. Our goal was to to create a product that would not interfere with the experience of motorcycling but add to it by making the rider smarter and supporting them in their decision making.
Our process for this journey is rooted in the principles of human-centered design, beginning with deep exploration and research, to dreaming and ideating rich new concepts, through to actually building and testing working prototypes with riders.
Understanding the riders
We utilized both primary and secondary research methods to help us gain a holistic understanding of the problem space. In addition to literature reviews in six different areas including topics such as safety research, distraction, and rider culture, we talked to experts and motorcyclists to gather information through the form of user interviews and survey to learn about riding behaviors and the underlying causes of the problem.
Triangulate findings from our research activities, we found the following three key insights.
Riding requires a high level of situational awareness
Motorcyclists engage with four out of the five senses while riding, there is a lot of information that the rider needs to be aware of, that’s constantly changing, which can lead to cognitive overload.
Technology should be informative and functional
Reliance of system could lead to degradation in riding skills. Additionally, a successful system designer should shorten the time between intent and action, and anticipate the needs of the rider to help them make quick and accurate decisions.
Riding is a way of life
All of the riders we interviewed stated that one of the main reasons for riding was the sense of freedom and oneness with the road. We can also deduce that riding is worth the risk for many; given that a rider is 26 times more likely to die in an accident, the rate of motorcycle registration is still increasing (NHTSA, 2015).
We realized that a successfully design should be proactive, unobtrusive, and design with the rider in mind.
Skry is an advanced awareness and hazard reporting system for motorcyclists that leverages map, weather, and traffic data, as well as crowdsourced feedback from other riders, to alert a rider of what’s up ahead on their route. Fueled through the Skry mobile app, Skry first allows rider to choose the best route for them based on data that has been collected. While on the road, the rider receives messages about impending hazards and events, and can alert others of them.
The Skry system tags the hazards time and location and immediately makes this information available to others on the road. Post ride, they can view information about their ride, see relevant stats and behaviors, as well as review or amend any of the hazards they reported.
Designing for riders means creating a clean, minimal experience to assist situational awareness when riding. Skry interacts with the riders primarily through a voice interface, a secondary peripheral heads up display allows the rider to interact and get real-time feedback from the system. As such, the riders doesn’t need to take their eyes off the road in order to understand the nature of the event.
Component 1: Mobile Application
The rider interacts with the mobile application before and after the ride. During the ride, the smartphone will play a passive role, as it is very dangerous for riders to be looking at a mobile screen while riding.
It has three main sections: Map, Trip, and Profile. The Map section is where the rider inputs the destination, and views current hazards on the road. They are able to select potential routes they might take, with the current hazards along each route shown.
After they’ve selected a route, they will begin the navigation. Once the ride has been completed, they will be provided with a recap of their trip, based on the data collected from the app. If they have any reports that they wish to fix or update, they will be able to make those change here. The trip will then be saved in the Trip section, so that it can be viewed at a later date if necessary. If the rider has any settings they wish to customize, such as the frequency of alerts, or switching to only tone-based alerts instead of system messages, they will be able to make those changes in the Profile section.
Component 2 & 3: Voice Interface and Heads-up Display