This week, I was looking into the different tactile outputs, the smart bike is possible to give through the handles. The idea behind it is, that the user can be navigated through an area, without the need to look at the screen. Everybody who cycles or drives a motorcycle knows the problems: screen glare, no connection, fragility, illegible when the underground is shaking and above all a risk in the traffic flow. A person looking down at their handles, trying to figure out where to go, while the car in front stops unexpectedly, is never a good idea. In order of the person to go on with the adventure, it needs though the guide which leads it to the unknown streets. It is also one considerations for the app not to preview an entire route, but rather to name the points of interests and a title / description. Therefore the storytelling element is far more enhanced and the user’s curiosity is increasing the excitement. The core element of the guiding friend needs to be adapted from app to the bike, in this case to the handles.
During the investigation one of my mentors asked me, why exactly the handles? Thinking it through, it is the most personal interaction, the cyclist has with the bike. The pedals are quite automatic, the seat is most of the time uncomfortable anyway, while the handles, this is where our hands are. Touch is important. Holding hands is a reflection on trust. Touch screen interaction is a reflection on power. Our hands are a vital part of our grasp of the environment. They are very personal, intimate and the closest to a ‘friend’ what I found in the structure of a bike. For these reasons (and a bit of a gut feeling) I chose to focus on the handles.
Ways of output could be
PINS (Braille similar output)
AIR (Blowing out of holes)
The design of the handles is equally important. There are various shapes in the world of cyclists, each designed for a significant area like treck, racing or commuting. For the prototype, I am also investigating into introducing a new shape which is an anecdote to the VW Bus steering wheel.
Right now, I have several ideas which could be taken forward. To know though which interaction is feasable and prefered, my aim is to run a quick user test at the beginning of next week. Further decisions will be met with new insights in mind.
Furthermore I need to consider the necessary interactions of the handles. How is the output of navigation information delivered to be useful enough?