A station of being

An interactive bus for arctic conditions


Umeå got selected for the RUGGEDISED smart city project funded under the European Union. As a lighthouse-project city, Umeå is focusing on developing its university quarter into a “smart district”. For this project, Umeå Kommun commissioned the development of a flagship bus stop in this district. The research and concept were realized in collaboration with the Umeå Institute of Design, Rise Interactive and Rombout Frieling Lab 


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 and the Frieling Lab as an inspiration for further design development.

Our final proposal suggested a system that increases the quality of the waiting time experience at the bus stop. 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.


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.



University: Umea Institute of Design

Type: Research and concept

Year: 2017 



Duration: 10 weeks 



Team: Pontus Ljungvall, Felicia
Hjelmqvist, Jenny Johansson,
Jonathan Svan

Partner: Rise Interactive, Rombout Frieling Lab, Umeå Kommun, 
RUGGEDISED - EU smart city project

photography: Samuel Pettersson

design question

How to use co-creative design methods to create research material that assists Rise Interactive and the Rombout Frieling Lab with creating an Interactive bus stop for Umea in 2020.

identified problems

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.

for the bus driver

for the commuter

  • Constantly searching for eye contact

  • Slows down the bus unnecessary

  • Always afraid to drive by someone 

  • Constantly paying attention to the street

  • Hard to identify the bus from a distance

  • Difficult to be relaxed while waiting

 the living bus stop - an audiovisual spectacle

arrival of the bus

waiting for the bus

created values

for the passenger

for the bus driver

  • More relaxed waiting time

  • Easier to identify the right bus 

  • Feeling more in control of the situation 

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

  • The driver can‘t drive by passive passengers

action-research interventions

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

Secondly, we build a light system that shows the arrival of specific bus lines. We covered the glass bus shelter so that the passengers can’t the actual vehicle before it arrives. The testers were supposed to trust the system and "relax" while waiting for the bus. They claimed afterwards that it was convenient to trust it. 

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. 

4. The interactive stop with 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. 


brainstorming together

conducting interviews with commuters

low-fidelity prototyping

prototyping the bus stop 

prototyping light signals and sounds

testing interaction flow