PROJECT TYPE: Physical Prototyping, Shared Use Design, Connected Devices
TIME FRAME: 4 weeks
Linx is a bluetooth bike lock that changes how bicycles can be used. With a focus on group access, the Linx app and lock can transform a bike from a single ownership object to a shared use resource.
Most people don't need or want their own bicycle, but would still like access to one. The only options they have are to pay a high price and buy a bike that they will use infrequently, or pay to rent one with every use. The other option is for a group to co-own a single bike, but currently there is no way to do that easily and securely. Is there a way to improve this situation and make a bicycle a shared resource for a group?
I began my process by researching existing lock solutions for comparison and inspiration. Then I conducted interviews with people to find out how what pain points and experiences they had with using bicycles. I gained the richest insights from edge case users: professional bikers and infrequent riders. I took the data I had gathered to inform user personas and journey maps, and what physical form requirements the lock needed.
I started my generative work by designing the lock, because the form factor would determine some of the features needed in the app. I sketched form ideas on paper, and built a foam core prototype to test interaction assumptions. After getting feedback, I built a Wizard of Oz prototype that would work in conjuction with the app.
To develop the app that would control the lock, I went through a process of functional design. I started with use case storyboards to make sure I was designing for goals and not features. The user stories informed task flows and the necessary UI elements to accomplish them. I used that content to build an interactive prototype to tested how it functioned with the lock.
This project taught me how valuable rapid physical prototyping can be for designing devices. There were usability challenges that I would not have discovered if I hadn't seen people interacting with the object in a tangible way.
FUNCTIONAL DESIGN: I converted the use cases into user stories. Then I expanded the stories to generate task flows, rough UI sketches, and the UI elements each screen would need for a user to progress through the full task flow. This process helped me focused on designing for goals, and not building arbitrary features.