Low-fi prototyping, part I

When considering doing a thesis together, it is very important to make sure that the thesis area we consider to commit to, is in fact an area that is thesis worthy. We both need to believe in the project, and we have to want to live with it for a long time. That is why we wanted to do a simple test of the concept of a bike companion giving in-ride directions out in the real world.

We prepared directions for each other, and planned to bike behind each other, giving directions at the appropriate time through a phone call. Equipment used:

  • Android phone with bluetooth headset
  • iPhone with apple ear buds

Bad sound quality was a big issue, and made it particularly hard to hear street names (which is the most important thing we figured). A phone call while biking gave us way too much wind noise and other interferences. Audio quality is KEY. We were talking about whether using bluetooth headphones rather than wired headphones would potentially not give us good enough audio. Need to check that.

We agreed on a good format for giving instructions. When next turn on 8th ave is approaching:

Turn left onto 8th avenue.
Ride about 0.1 miles.
Then turn left onto 2nd street.

When next turn on 2nd street is approaching:

Turn left onto 2nd street.
Ride about X miles.
Then turn right onto 5th avenue.

But adding whether there’s a bike lane/path would also be helpful, and maybe also on which side of the street the lane is on. In addition, we should consider ways to talk back or give other kind of feedback to the helmet. We might want to make it:

  • Repeat
  • Shut up

Other types of encouragement along the way were also discussed, and how to humanize the voice and the content. Important to figure out how to make the biking experience desirable/delightful. I.e. what happens when on a bridge etc.

These notes were taken on Cafe Martin in Park Slope after the bike ride. Then we rode our bikes to Brighton Beach, and discussed the possibility of thesis collaboration in the sunset.

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