ABUV & NODE
Designing a sustainable and safe ride-share experience, for a post pandemic world.
Project Overview
Our brief for this project was to create something to solve a problem which did not exist 6 months ago. Starting in September, this meant solve a problem that did not exist pre-pandemic. With the COVID-19 pandemic, everything changed in one way or another, and our team looked towards the automotive industry. By the end of this project we were required to create working high fidelity prototypes, coded and functional.
My Contributions
Like most UX projects, everyone tends to help with every part of the process, but roles are defined as the 10 weeks goes on. I started out having research as my main role, creating a timeline and goal for all of our different types of research. As the quarter went on, I was responsible for all of the product design and ideation with help from the team. This included user testing forms, sketching, rendering and creating the final form. My team was amazing for this project and we together created something which I feel could be placed into market today.
My Roles
User Experience Design
Industrial Design
Product Design Lead
Physical Prototyper
Primary Research Lead
User Testing & Research
Team Members
Wyatt M. (PM)
Charlie B.
Sathvik k.
Guy C.
Quint B.
Deliverables
Physical Prototype
Digital Prototype
Vision Video
Final Presentation
Process Book
Poster
Timeline
10 weeks
09/20 - 11/20
The Problem
Initial development of an idea starts broad and our team did not eliminate any ideas until we flushed them out. We began by thinking about new problem areas in the workplace, with increased technology usage and increased uses for cars. We found a great opportunity in the car industry and decided to research further into every aspect of cars that changed as a result of the pandemic. We found people attending church and movies in their cars, new ways of ride sharing and even COVID testing being conducted in cars.

Then our team focused our research into ride sharing and the new adaptations that companies and people had to make as a result of the pandemic. We made this decision based on feasibility, impact and many other factors. We were surprised to find that companies like Uber did little to nothing to improve the riding experience for their users, and offered almost no support to their drivers. Besides requiring masks, the only thing that Uber did to facilitate a safe ride was deploying Clorox wipes to high population areas, which is obviously a temporary and single use solution.

We had found our problem and dove deep into the specifics finding what was wrong with ridesharing now and where companies were falling short in providing their users with solutions.
Project
Research
Define
Develop
Refine
Defining Our Scope
Through intensive secondary research, we discovered that rideshare driver's and passengers were being disproportionally effected when compared to other driver's and passenger's during the COVID-19 pandemic. And this makes sense of course, as driving and riding with people you don't know could be very scary for both parties involved. On top of that, companies like Uber had only gone to provide single use cleaning supplies for their driver's, in high population areas. A very temporary and single use solution to a very complex issue.
Interviews and Observation
Our team decided interview actual Uber drivers, observing new habits as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic in relation to cars. As this entire project was done virtually, in a class on zoom, we actually were able to get interview insights from India (courtesy of our teammate Sathvik) and local to us in Savannah Georgia. This was in addition to our interviews with passengers and driver's across the USA. This included town watching and observation. In the picture below you can see how some driver's bought plastic coverings to protect themselves from their passengers.
Drivers AND Passengers have Unique but Similar Pain Points
We learned so much about the rideshare industry through our primary research, but importantly we learned that typically rideshare driver's have strict schedules and rely on being able to use rideshare as a way to generate income with some relying entirely on rideshare driving as a source of income. This meant speed is everything, and introducing any product into this space required it to be completely integrated, saving the user's time, rather than adding time by cleaning their cars by hand. More time driving means more money earned for our driver's. We discovered both passengers and drivers had cleanliness as top of mind during and after the pandemic, something they previously did not consider.
Our Design considerations
-Our solution must work fast and in-between pick-ups
-Our solution should not harm passenger's or driver's in the interior of a car
-Our solution should work on all vehicle interior surfaces (leather, cloth, vinyl, etc.)
-Our solution should show the driver/passenger that it is working
-Our solution shouldn't reduce the lifespan of the vehicle's interior
-Our solution should be automatic with user manual overriding
Our Hypothesis
We believe that a product used within rideshares will be accepted and encouraged.
We will know we are [right] when we see the following feedback:

feeling safe while ridesharing and/or more rideshare users and/or drivers wanting to use our product
Jumping into Ideation
With our problem area and target audience defined, we jumped into rapid ideation with crazy 8's. Moving forward with our best ideas and the ideas that solved the problems at hand. This ideation session was focused on generating a mass of ideas, not quality ideas necessarily. As the next step in the process was to limit our mass of ideas to only the ideas that solved the issue in a creative yet effective way. Our team used Journey Maps and User Personas to define our audience's and keep our ideation session effective, as each person was on the same page.
Opportunity Areas for Our Solution
-The driver's current cleanliness efforts can't be seen by the passengers and thus make the passengers feel uncomfortable
-Any cleanliness and safety efforts are exaggerated during the pandemic
-One bad experience during the pandemic could drive passengers away from companies like Uber and Lyft
-Driver's spend valuable time cleaning their cars for passengers, but have no way of displaying their efforts
Sketching and Ideation
With a product idea proposed by our team we worked on the form and function of the product itself, and at the same time developing our digital companion. As our product would work with IoT, it was important that we simultaneously work on the physical form, testing and development, while also developing our digital integration.
Pitching to the Class
Key factors were considered while designing the physical form of the product. Total coverage of the car with UVC, fitting in the cupholder, as well as other spaces within the car interior. The form we moved forward with was inspired from a mass of products in our mood board, a sleek and modern design that enticed user's to buy the product, while also not sticking out like a sore thumb in the interior of many different car interiors.
Rapid User Testing
With only 10 weeks to develop our whole solution, we dedicated two weeks to rapid user testing, using whatever means necessary to get valuable information on form and function, as well as usability with our product. We used the most effective means of prototyping necessary, utilizing Figma prototyping and pink foam modeling, complete with prototyped basic functions.
Final Revisions
To see more about the process of prototyping and building our final working solutions, look at our process book. Before producing our final product we decided upon some final product changes.
-Users want to see even more information about product (battery life, progress)
-Users would benefit from a removable battery for charging after rideshare driving
-Users overall had a better understanding of the product, based on our changes to the product
The Mounting Process
It became abundantly clear during our user testing that our users wanted flexibility with each of our products. During testing, questions often came up naturally from our users around the mounting process, the temporary mounting solution we used was duct tape on the ceiling. They asked questions like, "How would this mount? Would it hurt my cars interior? If I take it down can I put it back up?". Because of the frequency of questions and importance expressed by our users, we developed a system of VHB taping magnets to the ceiling, which allowed the magnets to stay on the car, while allowing for ABUV to be taken down and put back up with ease and without wasting the VHB tape.
Removable Battery and Placement
Two other important insights derived from our users were the removable battery for ABUV as well as the placement of our Far-UVC lights. Users felt that bringing the entire product indoors when it required charging would make them uncomfortable. They were concerned about the sanitization of the product themselves, so we created a removable battery to resolve this issue. Each time we user tested, day and night, our users had concerns about the light placement of ABUV, mostly because of the tendency for the height of the product to interfere with the rear view mirror. Because of this, we reduced the height of the product and also directed the lights away from the eyesight of the driver and towards their surroundings.
NODE's Important Scale
Our product design always had the inclusion of a main cylindrical component for our NODE product. This was derived from the cylindrical cleaning products of old, "Bar Keepers Friend". My intention with that decision was to subtly play to products that already existed in the sanitation industry, as well as allow for cupholder storage of the product. During user tested we refined this shape by playing around with different diameters and tapers. We found the users expressed frustration if NODE didn't snuggly fit in their cupholder, and when that happened they didn't store it in the cupholder. We made revisions based on their feedback, slightly tapering the design to fit more cups and modifying the proportions to connect to the users habits.
The Theoretical Application
Our creation of the RIDER/DRIVER app was purely representational, our goal was to have these products adopted by rideshare companies that exist. However, the application was crucial in helping the user understand Far-UVC. Because of this we added information pages which explained the technology briefly and showed how quickly it worked, in addition to providing links to credible sources. We then indicated the technology numerous times throughout the application because our research told us that just because something is clean or being cleaned, doesn't mean the user will believe its clean. Each direction we took with the application was as a result of user testing. Overall users expressed satisfaction!
Reflecting on the project
This project was a ton of fun and coincidentally fell into the industry that I am most interested in, the car industry (trust me I didn't push to take this direction, Charlie our teammate found great insight into the car industry from the beginning). I felt that our professor let us take lots of liberties into how we wanted to conduct our research, define efficacy and structure our process. Our group has always felt that what lacks usually in the process of UX projects is the user testing phase. We decided to focus on getting rapid user testing done to have a polished final product which had reasoning behind each decision.
Given more time our team would have done even more user testing with our final products. We almost had time to do this but decided rather to focus on having great final deliverables for class. Looking at my roles in the project, I am relatively happy with the final product design and execution of the products. Given such a short amount of time I felt that these models were exceptional. However, I would revisit ways for completing very polished prototypes which don't show any seams or imperfections. The difficulty with this project was the fact that at all times the prototypes had to be openable, because of our need to mess around with the Arduino components inside and swap them between our two products. This created tons of complication and resulted in a less refined final prototype.