A station of being -​

research to help creating an interactive flagship bus stop

Brief

Using co-creative research-methods to help Rise Interactive to create an interactive flagship bus stop

Approach

Prototypes testing different proposals in the field and conducting user interviews and co-creative workshops with commuters and bus drivers

Details

10-week group project with Pontus Ljungvall, Felicia Hjelmqvist, Jenny Johansson and Jonathan Svan at the Umeå Institute of Design in partnership with Rise Interactive

Type

Research and co-creation

Impact

Proposal for a system that increases the quality of the waiting time experience at the bus stop by using and audio-visual storytelling to keep passengers in the loop about the status of the approaching buses. 

My Role

Ethnographic Research / Participatory Design /
Conceptualisation

Context

The Swedish city of Umeå got selected for the RUGGEDISED smart city project funded under the European Union with the focus on developing its university quarter into a “smart district”.

 

For this project, the Umeå Kommun commissioned the realization of a flagship bus stop for this district. Our research and concept were done in collaboration with the Umeå Institute of Design, Rise Interactive and Rombout Frieling Lab and were later transferred to those for the further development of the project. 

Ethnographic Design-Research

User-observation at a bust stop in Umeå

Commuters wait outside the bus station because they‘re afraid to miss the bus. Visa versa the bus driver often can‘t tell if a commuter wants to go on the bus or not.

Problem identification 

For the bus driver

 

  • Constantly searching for eye contact

  • Slows down the bus unnecessary

  • Always afraid to drive by someone 

For the commuter 

  • Constantly paying attention to the street

  • Hard to identify the bus from a distance

  • Difficult to be relaxed while waiting

Final Proposal

Usually, the commuters have to continuously watch out for their bus and they often describe this activity as stressful & annoying.

 

In our solution the bus stop is doing this job for the user:  A comforting spectacle of audio and light informs about the status of the buses.

Each audio and colour distinctly represents a particular bus line. This can be also seen from a distance so that commuters walking towards the station can spot the status right away.

Our proposal is a system that uses audio-visual clues to create a comforting waiting-time experience and eases the communication between commuters and bus drivers

waiting for the bus

arrival of the bus

Created Values

For the bus driver

 

  • Reduced mental workload because the 
    passengers are informed about incoming buses

  • The driver can‘t drive by passive passengers

For the commuter

  • More relaxed waiting time

  • Easier to identify the right bus 

  • Feeling more in control of the situation 

Action-research interventions

Our group's deliverables were prototypes grounded in extensive user-interviews/observations and co-creative workshops. In the end, the final research report was used by Rise Interactive as an inspiration for further design development.

 

We worked in transdisciplinary groups of 4 - 6 researchers, split between design- and urban-development students. As the main part of our process, we developed low-fidelity prototypes and used the “wizard-of-oz-method” to test our proposals by staging out different interventions in public spaces.

1. The living stop sign

In our first intervention, we tried to help the passenger to get their bus without paying attention to the road or giving the bus driver any signs or looks. To simulate that situation I dressed as a living bus sign that is stepping towards the street every time a bus arrives.

2. The light-sign system

Next, we build a light system that signals the arrival of specific bus lines. We covered the bus shelter so that the users can’t see the actual bus before it arrives. The users were instructed to trust the system and to "relax" while waiting for the bus. They reported that it was easy to do so.

4. Responsiveness by sound and light

In our last intervention, we tested an interactive concept that included the results from the previous interventions.  An animation illustrated the arrival of specific buses. So the passengers could prepare him/self to go by bus. We incorporated light to envy to waiting quality. 

Encapsulation of all interventions

Synthesizing research 

Prototyping the specifics of the bust stop

Creating the lights-signals and sounds

Testing the interaction flow

3. Being a bus driver for a day

Then we wanted to test if it is easier for the bus driver to pick up the passengers when he knows that the person wants to take the bus for sure. Then we wanted to test if it is easier for the bus driver to pick up the passengers when he knows that the person wants to take the bus for sure. 

End-results by RISE interactive

A Station of Being Concept-video, Dezeen, 2019