Car UI


Further thoughts

 

Who even wants a display in a car that drives itself. Just download an app and control it from your phone! I know if I had a self-driving car, I'd just want to sit in it, charge my phone, put on some music through whatever streaming service I use, enter directions using whatever transit app I use, and just sit back and do nothing—probably look at my phone the whole way, or just look out the window. Maybe I'd want an entertainment system for longer rides, but that's not a whole car interface.

If it was a fully self-driving car, I'd be more concerned with the interior being perfect for relaxing. There's no steering wheel, no front facing seats (necessarily), just a nice, relaxing room. It needs big, wide-open windows, doesn't need to face any particular direction. Just a nice room, really. I'd say it should also be modular—say you're riding with a few other people in the car… maybe you don't all want to sit facing each other, or you don't all want to sit facing antisocially forward. The car should be ready for both situations. It should also work for romantic getaways. Fold that thing out into a bed! And if it folds into a bed, it's a perfect long-haul vehicle. Go to sleep in Vancouver and wake up in Portland (let's assume the battery lasts long time).

For controlling things like navigation, climate, and music, it simply must be an app. Don't bother the car with a screen, I don't want to have to learn a new OS. I want to download an app and just change the temperature. I want to open that app and put on some music. I want to enter in my destination, explore what's around me and then just drift off on the internet. And I don't want some random proprietary OS doing that, I want to use whatever device I already have. I want to use my iPad, my android tablet, my iPhone, or whatever smartphone I have.

But listen, if this screen needs to exist in this car—if some mystical person who can afford a top-of-the-line automated car but doesn't own any other device sits in this car—then it has to be a free-floating tablet. Maybe it rests on one (of a few) Qi wireless charging stations in the car. It can first rest in the traditional console area of the car, but if the "driver" wants to lay all the seats down and recline in one of the back seats, then it should also be effortless to do that. And loaded on this free-floating tablet in the car: yep it's gotta be the same app. What else?

Driving with a crowd? It's an app that everyone in the car can download. The owner invites and gives permissions to anyone who rides along to adjust their own personal climate control and seat adjustment. The core of this car needs to be the app. Imagine the other implications if such a car/app combination: this is now effortlessly Lyft, this is now a fleet of taxis, this is now a city's public transportation system.

The swipe-based interface builds on the direction of most modern mobile OS navigation UIs. On the popular iPhone X and also many new Android phones swiping is normal. Taps have become cumbersome. Swiping is effortless. The user can still tap if they want though. Affordances.


Inspiration and research


Initial sketches

 The phone interface prioritize the map, encouraging exploration. A standard nav across the bottom might include music, videos, climate control, and car settings.

The phone interface prioritize the map, encouraging exploration. A standard nav across the bottom might include music, videos, climate control, and car settings.

 First ideas — Invisible voice controlled car interface, paired with phone app.

First ideas — Invisible voice controlled car interface, paired with phone app.

 Still prioritizing the map, with easy "driver's side" navigation.

Still prioritizing the map, with easy "driver's side" navigation.

 Briefly entertained the idea of a super-minimal car UI. This assumes the driver only needs to control temperature, windows, lights, and volume—the rest they do with their phone

Briefly entertained the idea of a super-minimal car UI. This assumes the driver only needs to control temperature, windows, lights, and volume—the rest they do with their phone

Style references

lionshare.png
ooo_onboarding-slide-1@2x.png
ooo_settings@2x.png

Proposal

This is the dashboard. You've got an overview of where you're at right now, what you're listening to, what lights are on, climate settings. This design wants to get out of the way. It wants to be easy, not feel like something you have to manage. The style is still high-end though. It's reserved and refined.