Whoo: A Community of Exploration
Whoo! was a collaboration with Ford Research & Innovation Center to envision the future of bike mobility
Whoo! is bike share system that aims to make biking safe, convenient and worthwhile for commuters and bike fanatics by envisioning a human-centered vision for the future of mobility. By utilizing leisure time to be productive and establishing a currency that relies on commuting and exploration, people can connect with others through travel and support the local businesses of San Francisco.
Working on a team with Daniel Frank and Hongkun Zhang, we collaborated with Ford to create multi-touchpoint experiences (physical and digital) that capture and share technical, social, and emotional data.
My roles include the team leader, project manager, UX designer and head presenter. Daniel was the UX researcher, storyteller and presenter. Hong was in charge of the UI, brand design and presenter.
Project Manager- Led the team, created vision, facilitated multiple brainstorm sessions, research, created goals and deadlines, led presentation
UX Designer- generated initial storyboards, mapped out system, sketches, wireframes, wireflow, key screens, pitch deck
defining the problem
Bike share systems in San Francisco are tedious to use. The bikes are heavy and expensive. You can’t ride the bike to somewhere you actually want to go, and the experience of using the kiosk and unlocking the bike is annoying and can be a challenge due to its unclear instructions. The price to rent a bike is extremely expensive for what it is worth.
Based on Ford's needs, we needed envision how the experience of a futuristic biking system were to fit into a domestic/urban context to facilitate daily life, reports information relative to to users’ habits and routines to improve service as well exploring the business implications and possibilities for experience design in mobility services.
Instead of fixing the existing bike share system, how might we provide people a localized bike experience to encourage discovery and communication?
Based on our research insights, we re-created the SF bike share system to center the use of bikes as a way to experience the environment, and facilitate social interactions that you wouldn’t get when driving. We focused on three use cases: people who want a bike right now, people who want to explore and new users.
Centralized Bike Stations
Centralized areas for bikes allow for better distribution of bike stations across the city. Users always have access to a bike and when they are finished using it, they can pass their bike along to someone in close proximity who needs it. This makes one way trips much more simple, painless and cost friendly.
Suggestions and Shortcuts
Users can share the places they traveled to create a more inclusive bike community, as well as enhance the overall biking experience by having something new to look forward to every time they ride through crowd sourcing data.
Miles and Incentives
Gamifying bike riding creates a feedback loop that engages users to bike more. In turn, bike riders earn prizes for the number of miles they ride, or by discovering the rich culture of the city. This behavior aims to promote productivity, create healthy habits over time, and reduce the amount of gas absorbed into the atmosphere, creating a cleaner environment to live in.
In order to understand the problem with bike mobility within the SF bike share system, I did secondary research to understand what made a good bike system in comparison to a bad one.
- Successful bike share systems have decreased the use of automobiles, reduced traffic congestion, improved health for regular bikers and attracted new riders to biking.
- Unsuccessful bike share systems are high cost, contain heavy bikes, are in car centric environments and provide a bad kiosk experience with getting access to bikes.
- Due to their success and popularity, bike Share systems have been rapidly growing in popularity across the world in places such as Amsterdam, New York City, and more. Bike share has the potential to profoundly and permanently shift cultural habits away from automobiles and towards bicycles as an economical, flexible and carbon free transportation alternative.
- Because of the trend of shifting from cars to bikes, we believe this insight will help Ford think about reducing the use of gas and shift to using eco-friendy resources for their transportation.
I created a research visualization to synthesize secondary information in order understand how cost factors in to a successful vs unsuccessful bike share, taking into account of the amount of stations and system coverage.
The problem is San Francisco's bike share is not just the cost, but the ratio between stations and system coverage which hinders bike mobility in the city.
We interviewed 7 people who commute to school and/or work on a daily basis and people who have used bike share programs to find the high and low points of their experience.
From the interviews we found out that a big problem bike riders and even non riders encounter is the action to be able to ride a bike without worrying about the potential dangers (trusting the environment, stolen bike). Another low point is being able to take a breather from all the stress life gives.
Regarding the SF bike share system, these were the main problems users encountered:
- The bikes are HEAVY
- There are stations clustered around downtown San Francisco, but they aren’t EVERYWHERE, making it extremely hard or impossible to make simple one way trips.
- The kiosk is annoying to use. You can only buy a pass at the kiosk. Once you pay, you have five minutes to pull out a bike from the docking station or else you can’t get the bike.
- The bike itself is also very expensive. When comparing it to Chicago’s bike, the fee to rent a bike for a day is only $5, while San Francisco is up $150.
We used that as a leverage to guide us towards creating a system that would prevent people from constantly worrying about their bike and life in general to focus on creating experiences through riding a bike.
1. People ride their bikes to experience the world around them
- How might we...Create safe accomplishments that heighten the bike experience?
- How might we...Provide people a localized bike experience to encourage discovery and communication?
2. People just ride their bikes from point A to point B
- How might we...Increase productivity while biking?
Biking offers freedom without being confined like a car and offers speed, unlike walking. since the bike is the midpoint between walking and a car, we want to be able to incorporate the values of biking to create a community of exploration and connection with the city, as well as having something to look forward to after a long day.
understanding the opportunties
Our team first came up concepts of how we could enhance bike mobility in San Francisco. We brainstormed aspects of the bike itself, infrastructure and service in which would change the way people rode bikes. We also came up with potential solutions for our How Might We statements.
At first, our group focused too much on providing solutions that could be implemented in a short period of time, i.e. a bike lift to add on hills. This made us back-track our steps to look at our main goal which was to speculate a future of a bike experience that would introduce new behaviors and interactions.
mapping out the vision
As we explored different scenarios to how our bike share system would touch on different social interactions, one of our biggest struggles was coming up with a story that would highlight key features of our system as well as the overarching message Ford wants to be able to convey; creating a system to fit into everyday life.
Going back to our scenario, why would people even want to use our service in the future? How could we express that through different touch points?
creating a bikeshare for all
I created a system that explores different touchpoints of our new bike share experience and how would people use it in everyday life, particularly the three users I mentioned above when designing the key screens (the commuter, the explorer and the new user).
This resulted in different features for different users to help personalize their biking experience while having fun and achieving goals that localize the experience and familiarize yourself better with sf (the places and people).
envisioning a safer future
We envision a future of biking to have safe routes that allows for more beautiful scenery because cars are not present, thus romanticizing biking in a way that couldn't have been done in a car-centric environment. This also presents the opportunity for users to be able to freely bike with less worry about their safety.
The most important thing is getting people to slow down, explore the city and enjoy biking..as well as facilitate interaction and safety to create a friendlier city.
How will Ford benefit from our solution?
Ford will benefit from being to able facilitate experiences that will be associated with them and their brand. They also will be able to build relationships with businesses in San Francisco to partner with reward systems and local establishments to create opportunities for a better unified transportation system. They can also house a platform where they can make money off of other people who are also making money as they loan out bikes.
We presented our bike system at Ford in Palo Alto, with Mike Whitens ( Director of Vehicle Enterprise Systems), Raj Rao (CEO, Ford Smart Mobility), Anthony and Nico (Car Designers) and internal Ford PR. The CEO of Smart Mobility plans to move forward with our project.
As a group, we plan to include big research and validate our assumptions on why the sf bike system will be important in the future, pitching to local businesses about our project and how they could benefit from our system and thinking about where we will be getting our revenue from. We would also want to do more benchmark research with different bike share companies, dig more deeper into our value proposition, and be more specific with social connections we will be creating with our service.
Technology enables extraordinary experiences to happen—yet technology within an automotive ecosystem still remains largely un-memorable, noncompassionate and non-social. I learned how to examine and research the behaviors and triggers that create human connections (i.e., empathy). I also learned how to apply those insights to new, branded mobility ecosystems that are memorable, compassionate and social, and crafted an end-to-end bike share experience (from discovery to onboarding to daily routines and advocacy) to envision a future experience.
It was one of my first experiences as a leader for a team project and I learned how to lead with a vision as well as guide my teammates throughout the project, whether it was establishing deadlines, roles or helping them with the work I assigned them. When I asked them what did they thought about me as a teammate in the beginning stages of the project, they saw me as someone who could lead and I did not want to let them down. I made sure we were able to work individually with the specific parts of the project, and at the same time, make sure we would all be able to come together and talk about the project to decide on steps together.