Reimagining the way Gen-Z will commute tomorrow
In the Fall 2018 through Berkeley Innovation to help Suzuki Motors and their team at the World Innovation Lab (WiL) to conduct research on Gen-Z and give design recommendations for vehicles in the new smart phone era. I worked with Leon Eng, Cherry Wu and Jerome Wang.
The project was separated into 4 major sprints – User Research, Ideation, User Testing and Iteration, and Mid-Fidelity Mockups and Presentation. The entire team worked during all sprints, and I served as the sprint leader for the first sprint organizing and planning research targets and tactics.
Suzuki Motors challenged us to identify pain points in the current digital generation's commuting experience, and reinvent a more delightful commuting experience for potential future drivers and/or passengers.
Suzuki has had a long history of success in the Asian markets, though as innovation continues in North and South America the opportunity to grow and become a staple brand in these markets is promising.
The scope of the project was to create recommendations on how Suzuki could make the physical commuting space more delightful for Gen-Z.
Since its invention, the cabin shape and size of vehicles has remained relatively unchanged. Happening simultaneously, the permeation of the smartphone has changed the way consumers interact with each other, their environment, and the companies they buy from.
leading us to arrive at our HMW statement: How might we design a space that gratifies the real needs and attitude of Gen-Z users while they are transported?
The goals of our research were to understand:
people’s general commuting routines,
ways that commuting fits into people's schedules,
how people view their experiences with different transportation.
Since research was key to making our recommendation we broke our research into three sections - Secondary research, primary research in the forms of ethnographic observations and interviews, and finally surveys. We focused on high-schoolers, college students, and graduate students mostly in the Bay Area.
Looking to the web our team research regarding innovation in the automotive and transportation industry as well as what trends were affecting in the consumption habits of Gen Z. After analyzing the secondary literature, we have concluded on the three major findings:
Gen Z users love their smart phones and have become essential to almost all activities.
Services based on a shared economy structure have risen to popularity in the past year with Gen Z
Gen Z users are looking for more personalized ways to interact with both technology and reality. Retailers are creating mixes of distribution channels to incorporate the physical into the digital and vice versa.
Interviews: Our team interviewed 8 undergrads, 17 high schoolers and 4 graduate students. We wanted to compare and contrast commuting rituals across different age groups.
Ethnographic research: Our team took to the streets and observed how people interacted within different forms of transportation. We observed commuters in BART, A/C Bus systems, and Uber pools.
After synthesizing the data from our research we distilled the following insights about commuting as a Gen - Z user:
Commuting is a time for personal rituals, most often disconnecting from the world, users enjoyed daydreaming or observing landscapes while commuting.
Social norms/cues surrounding communication in transportation affect behavior of users. ie you don’t talk to your Uber driver
The quality of a commuting experience is highly dependent on the behavior of fellow commuters.
The shorter ‘The First/Last Mile’, is the more ideal the commuting experience.
Safety is top of mind, therefore certain modes of transportation (BART) are less desirable.
Commuting takes a lot of time
No way of knowing which method of commuting is safest
Most cars can’t be personalized to include pictures or accessories
Commuting interrupts the use of social media, face timing, or watching videos
Focusing on insights that we gathered from research, we began our ideation phase to create a better space for Gen Z to commute in.
We brainstormed ideas as a team and categorized them accordingly. Then, we voted as a team to select the top design ideas.
To better understand the needs of the current Gen-Z commuters, we conducted a survey and gathered responses and/or further suggestions. Our results of over 75+ respondents showed that users preferences fell under the scopes of (1) Safety/Physical and (2) Inclusive/ Personalization.
Car system that reminds the driver of
proper maintenance (i.e. Change of oil, specifics, pressure)
Interior lights that change according to driver's focus level (i.e Alerts when he/she is falling asleep)
Facetime and video calling capable windows/ displays
Physical or digital implementation of personal pictures in the car (e.g Built-in picture frame)
Using the feedback from both our ideation session and the survey went ahead and began to visualize the top recommendations.
After a meeting with our client surrounding our initial sketches, we decided to continue with two recommendations: Personalization of interior cabin and interior safety lighting for drivers.
Our final deliverable consisted of a booklet of research data and insights as well as these final sketches and interior cabin recommendations.
The instrument cluster will have built in LEDs that pulse when the driver is falling asleep. It detects drowsiness via a driver-facing camera mounted in the gauge cluster.
Interior lighting, positioned in three separate areas. Interior lights help keep the vehicle lit during nighttime, reducing drowsiness. If the vehicle detects drowsiness, the lights will pulse to alert the driver.
A picture frame near the sides of the car can allow for personalized space. Since the car is a relatively dull space, adding a touch of personalization can improve the commuting experience.
This was the first time that I worked on a intensive user research project that was mostly exploratory, It was also the largest client I have worked with. I had a lot of fun interviewing and finding new ways Suzuki could be a leader in the automotive space in 20 years. Even though the final sketches were'n’t required of the team for final deliverables, I’m glad we took the time to develop some of our recommendations visually.
Enjoy a cute pic of the team :)