Is it a bike day?

Know the very moment that your friends get on their bikes. If your friends are doing it, obviously you can. Prove it. Skip the morning bagel. Try something new. Be the first one to be on your bike.

Track your rides with your phone to color your city with beautiful patterns.

Be encouraged by your own bike efforts and compare with your friends. Make them jealous for that matter. Go ahead, show off. Tweet, share, like on Facebook. Tell everyone! We’ll even help you print a poster to hang on your wall!

Share your data anonymously and help paint the whole picture of what is happening on NYC streets.

Try new places, new streets, new things on your bike!

About the Project, v.2

Paint Your City is a social tracking platform with game challenges that motivates people to ride their bikes. It’s for city dwellers with under-utilized bikes who have a need to maintain a busy and active lifestyle and get around their city. Spoked values the sheer joy of biking rather than speed, calories, or saving the environment; although, we can’t deny these effects.

Through the service, members choose a color to paint their city and track the rides they take. These rides, which become one’s personal drawing of a city, are beautifully visualized on a communal map where they can be compared with friends.

In addition to this very visual feedback of tracking, Paint Your City will host social challenges that give people a fun and social excuse to either start biking, or to push them to explore more of their city on two wheels. These challenges are designed to happen within a physical workplace, between friends and for members across the entire platform.

Paint Your City will cultivate a bike culture in cities, because it’s simply the best way to get around. It will launch in New York, and could even become part of the bike share system arriving this spring.

Archive Ideas, Begin New

Throughout the months, our thesis project has expanded and contracted with ideas; mainly expanded. Though, our challenge all along has been to get more people biking. A break and space away from it has, thankfully, brought us clarity.

As explained in our initial project description written in September (2011), the concept was once very focused on a physical bike helmet embedded speakers, buttons, sensors and a microphone:

Our project addresses the needs of urban pedalers. New Yorkers bike in chaotic environments. We want to make riders’ trips more seamless while giving them tools to delightfully experience and discover New York from their bike seat and with friends. We’re making a digital toolset embodied in a physical bike helmet. It will provide spoken directions, track riding habits and help riders document trips and arrange rides with friends. Unlike a high-tech GPS bike computer, it will have a charming personality and be designed for the casual and committed commuters.

An endeavor that is part of the SVA IxD thesis program, we hope to create your bike’s better half.

The project continued to involve the helmet throughout the entire semester. But, in October (2011), we decided to design a game, called King of Two Wheels, to explore our concepts around motivation, wayfinding, tracking, and discovery within a city. Hosting this game throughout a week in our studio got us more interested in the shared work environment as the focus for intervention. We iterated further on this idea through developing office game kits, and digital communal maps to be projected on the office wall.

At the end of last semester, the project was filled with opportunities and features—from receiving spoken directions and bookmarking places during a ride to competing for miles and new places with fellow workers. Then, we each took a very deep breath and a three week break to our respective homes, Oslo and Missouri/Texas.

We returned to New York and realized that, rather than adding capabilities to the bike ride itself, the project should focus on how to motivate people while they are not on their bike seat. We believe and have seen the power of data tracking on a communal map, and will leverage this idea as the core of the project. It’s called Paint Your City.

The Joy of Biking

We presented our public interfaces project last week. We talked about the social tracking platform we want to make for thesis, as well as one potential game challenge that could be hosted in workplaces. The offices would be able to order small game kits, get excited about a 2 week bike challenge, and cheer each other on to try to win over other companies as well as try to beat their co-workers internally. We had fun through making felt icons, posters and game rule books, and the presentation went very well. Yes, there were some changes to be made, but no matter people understood that we love biking, that we want it to spread, and that we believe in spreading it through emphasizing the joy of biking rather than calories burnt or environment saved. Some people even said GO MAKE THE THING! Yay.

Then something broke. Not sure exactly why or how. We went back to the drawing board. We put post-its on the wall and stared at them for 12 hours. We put post-it on cafe tables, and got more frustrated than ever. I felt we were back to where we were at a few months ago – throwing potential features up on the wall.

But this time we did the brainstorm without any joy or playfulness, and we presented some slides we were not even sure we believed in for our thesis work group final presentation. And that’s where we’re at. After having had the most wonderful and eventful semester at SVA IxD so far, we’re all of a sudden confused, clueless and burnt out. It sucks being there when Winter break is upon us.

We still know we want to get people to bike more. We still believe we can do it through playfulness and fun. And we believe in the power of delightful interaction design. But will there be a talking helmet? Or a device to plug on to the helmet? Will it have speakers, mic, a button? What is the button for? Can you add voice notes while biking? Can you add text notes when done biking? Can you hear notes when biking, or is that distracting and dangerous? Can you share your notes with others, or is it a private thing? What is the social in the social tracking platform? What would you share with everyone, what would you share with friends, and what would you keep to yourself (twitter vs. diary)? Can we rely on tracking alone–as long as our communication of the gathered data is different than the fitness-focused competitors like RunKeeper and Strava? Can the added flavor to the platform be through various challenges, rather than in the everyday experience?

Maybe we just need a long break. Judging by the content in this blog, and the amounts of content that didn’t even make it in here, cause we’ve been to busy, I think we actually do deserve it! Happy Holidays to whoever made it this far down a page filled with frustration :)

Design brief

Who should be in the initial meeting?

The founders: Carrie Stiens and Kristin Breivik.
CTO, CFO, Visual Design Lead

An executive summary of the project goals

The vision for the project overall is to create a social tracking platform with game challenges to motivate people to ride their bikes for transportation. Thesis will be our phase 1. Our goal toward the end of thesis is to get funding for the project so that we can build it.

Phase 1:
Design of website, app and physical helmet
Prototyping and Testing

How will we make money off of this thing?

The basic features of Paint Your City are free to all users. These include the ability to track, bookmark places and participate in game challenges. Users are able to view their data for the previous month to the current date and can bookmark up to 15 places. Involvement in game challenges is unlimited.

Our primary source of revenue will come through premium subscriptions. The subscription gives users access to their data for the previous 3 years to the current date, allows users to bookmark an unlimited amount of places, and allows users to receive secret tips about the places bookmarked by other users of the platform.

Our secondary source of revenue is through product sales. This includes the helmet, game kits and visualization posters.

Background and key findings from user interviews, personas and scenario, demographics and psychographics

Our audience are New Yorkers with under-utilized bikes. They fall under three categories:

Leisure rider
“I ride my bike around my neighborhood and outside the city, but it’s not really a transportation mode for me”
Our goal for this group is to get people that don’t bike to bike.

Casual commuter
“I ride around my neighborhood and to work occasionally. It’s a secondary mode of transportation.”
“I used to ride my bike, but recently have become lazy about it. I’d like to get into it again.”
Our goal for this group is to get casual riders to ride more and to commute.

Committed commuter
“I ride my bike to work everyday. It’s my primary mode of transportation.”
Our goal for this group is to bikers excited about the in-ride experience and to spread the bike love.

Findings from competitive research, positioning, ways to differentiate

As data tracking will be the core of the platform, there are a lot of products out there with similar features; RunKeeper, Nike+, Jawbone’s UP and FitBit are all collecting data and creating visualizations. Paint Your City will be different as we are more focused on the joy of getting around the city on a bike, than on staying healthy and burning calories. That you burn calories is a nice side effect, but you will use Paint Your City mainly to be a part of a bike movement, to share beautiful visual bike stories through your data tracking, and to discover and share secrets about your city. Cause you don’t bike for exercise – you bike to get around.

Other sources for inspiration: Weight Watchers, tour guides, scavenger hunts, games, Tour de France, Daytum, Yelp, Google Places, sports tournaments, Tamagotchi, Cabspotting, Nokia Vine and Chromaroma. Paint Your City will not have any of these services/products as direct competition, but can definitely look to them to include certain elements (game mechanics, city bookmarking, storytelling through data, motivation, personality).

Timeline, budget, milestones

December 2011:
Synthesize research
Concepting one potential game challenge
Winter break:
Deciding on advisors
Read books on motivation, community building, gaming, html/css/javascript
Research ways to build extensive HTML/CSS prototypes
Moodboarding. Gather visual appealing material, tone of voice etc.
January 2012:
Prototyping and qualitative research on bookmarking feature
Testing game mechanics
Wireframing website (information architecture and interaction design)
Wireframing app
Processing explorations(?)
Visual design
Front-end development
Create video pitch
Kickstarter campaign – so we can build this thing
Create presentation
Practice performance
Present thesis product pitch

Single statement which clarifies product’s purpose, what it will achieve, for whom and why

Paint Your City is a social tracking platform with game challenges that motivates people to ride their bikes. It’s for city dwellers with under-utilized bikes who have a need to maintain a busy and active lifestyle and get around their city. Unlike tracking apps that are exercise-focused (Runkeeper and NikePlus), our service caters to the unique way that a biker experiences the city. In addition to tracking while riding, bikers can bookmark places and events, unlock secrets from fellow riders, be cheered on by friends, and get directions spoken to them. This narrative is visualized on a city map individually or as part of a bigger bike story.

List of personality attributes to guide the creative execution of the product

Playful, colorful, but stylish and minimal. Appeal to designers. The data visualizations and the narratives they are telling are the core of the identity.

Direction for messaging, content elements, tone

Clear, simple language. Playful and positive tone of voice. The content core is people’s routes on the map. However, in any communication with the users, be sure to encourage the users to keep riding.

Focus on the joy of biking:
- the empowering feeling
- the sense of flying
- being in charge of your own time
- being in charge of your own route
- the way biking enables you to be impulsive
- the closeness to the city – stitching the city together
- being outdoors and free
- creating a narrative through painting the city

Do not focus on how your choice impacts the environment.
Do not focus on calories, speed, heart rate, cadence.

Inventory of proposed features for the product

The proposed features include the following:

Web Platform:
Database to store rider info and data
Ability to compare rides between bikers
- sidebar widget that lets the user choose who they want to compare their rides with
Display aggregated data of neighborhoods and networks
Ability to receive data realtime and communicate who is on the road at any given time
Display bookmarked places on a map with tips about them
- roll-over states for places
Interface to view and compare data
Interface to sign up for game challenges
Interface to buy helmet and posters

GPS tracking
Bluetooth connection to the helmet
Receive commands from a helmet or earphone button
Re-programs button on from earphones to bookmark a place
Integration with Twitter and FB to notify friends when tracking starts
Interface for bookmarked places (ex: bucket list)
Interface to start and stop tracking

Game Challenges and Kits:
Three different levels of game kits available
Multiple challenge offerings (work environment, group of friends, partners)
Bike stardom poster for cheers
Text interface and system to cheer for bikers
Rotary phone installation
- ability to call to send a cheer from a rotary phone

Bluetooth connection to the phone
Button to bookmark places
Sensor to stop and start tracking
Microphone to record voice notes, or make phone calls
Speakers to receive cheers, directions, and tips about places

Visualize riders data over time
Ability for rider to choose which data to display

Rough illustrations of pages, flows, aimed at communicating concepts (not complete designs)

Story Model, v.2

In my thesis workgroup, we are using a story model to help us delineate the intervention we are making with the thesis project. This is a second take on it.

WHY: What if your city felt smaller and your experience of it felt bigger?

Our reasons are: to spread the joys of biking, to contribute toward human super-powered (better) lifestyles and healthy environments, to help people overcome the personal barriers to riding for transportation, to move toward a cultural shift in the way we navigate and experience our cities

WHO: city dwellers with under-utilized bikes; these people can be defined by three personas:

The leisure rider ( the ‘not yet convinced’) —“I ride my bike around my neighborhood and outside of the city, but it’s not really a transportation mode for me.”

The casual commuter—“I ride around my neighborhood and to work occasionally. It’s my secondary mode of transportation.”

The committed commuter—“I ride my bike to work every day. It’s my primary mode of transportation.”

WHAT: It is a movement to get people to discover and further embrace their human superpowers by biking for transportation. It takes the form of a service paired with a physical product that equips and encourages riders. The physical product is a talking helmet that tracks your rides the moment you put your helmet on, works as a remote for you to bookmark places and events realtime while riding, and helps you find your way in moments where you are lost.

WHEN/WHERE: during a ride, before and after a ride, ‘hunger moments’, planning periods

WHO BY: creators, bike nerd developers, bike community

HOW: mobile application, physical bike helmet, website

Paint Your City

Paint Your City is a social tracking platform with game challenges that motivates people to ride their bikes. It’s for city dwellers with under-utilized bikes who have a need to maintain a busy and active lifestyle and get around their city.

Unlike tracking apps that are exercise-focused (Runkeeper and NikePlus), our service caters to the unique way that a biker experiences the city. In addition to tracking while riding, bikers can bookmark places and events, unlock secrets from fellow riders, be cheered on by friends, and get directions spoken to them. This narrative is visualized on a city map individually or as part of a bigger bike story.

Our goal is to get people excited and curious about biking, and to provide a way for people to encourage each other to use their bike more for getting around the city.

We will achieve this by giving the user voluntary challenges (initiated by self, friends or their workplace) to push themselves to bike more as well as recruit others to get on their bikes. We are providing consistent feedback on their progress, and enhancing the in-ride experience.