Academic work for the Design Strategy Project Course – 2018
My main activities: Trend research, ideation, creating the visual concepts, video and roadmap.

strategic design

How can VR help ford to test and analyse how users interact with new mobility technologies?

The context 

 VR is gaining momentum as a consumer trend, and is expected to grow from 90 million users (2017) to 600 million users worldwide in 2021. Ford is already very familiar with this technology, it is already being used  for years as a tool for the design process. Now the company is interested in exploring its use in in further exploring the tech to engage users in the early stages of the innovation process.

 Goal

The primary goal of this project was identifying a use of VR that could engage Ford’s customers and potential ones with the brand.

The challenge 

The challenge to create an engaging experience that could reinforce Ford as a company that is innovative and is a leader when it comes to looking into the future of mobility and leads the development of trustworthy autonomous vehicles.

The process

We broke down this project into the phases shown below.

1. Desktop Research

 

During the desktop we research we were able to identify key trends in the automotive industry.

2. Visiting the company

 

We were able to visit Ford’s research center in Aachen. By talking to the engineers, including one of our mentors, we were able to have a clear picture of the context where innovative concepts are created. Furthermore, we could understand the company internal processes and relationships between departments  in order to be able to develop a Roadmap for our concept..

3. Identifying Opportunities

 
By having a better understanding of the company, the changes caused by a new CEO (Jim Hackett), The company’s vision and heritage, we were able to identify what Ford could improve in terms of connecting with consumers given the challenges ahead. We identified as challenges the future of shared mobility and autonomous cars when it comes to the traffic conditions in big cities and how millenials are disconnected of cars in terms of ownership.

In this sense, we identified that VR offers a big opportunity to explore the development of autonomous vehicles and deal with challenges such as managing user expectations and worries.

How  we picture the use of VR for this project.

4. The concept

 

What: What: Ford VR World Tour consists of a series of interventions. On such intervention, VR is used as a tool to propose new features for the users before they reach the final stages of development. In addition, is a tool to explore the future of mobility, by presenting to the users autonomous driving modes, urban mobility futuristic scenarios, customization of the vehicles among other possibilities.

Where: Inside Ford iconic or just released cars placed on parking places of strategic cities and automotive exhibitions.
For who: For automobile enthusiasts and anyone who is interested in having an immersive futuristic experience or mobility solutions.

Why: 
– To explore the future of mobility, by presenting to the users autonomous driving modes, urban mobility futuristic scenarios, customizations of the vehicles among other possibilities. 
– To be able to iterate on ideas before reaching the final stages of development.
– To get closer to its potential consumer and strengthen brand perception as a brand that can be trusted.

The features

By offering an immerse experience,  Ford can have feedback on innovative ideas. While the users can collaborate on such futuristic scenarios, experience them and voice out their preferences and expectations. For automobile enthusiasts is a great experience, for regular users a chance to explore the future, for Ford an opportunity to get closer to its potential consumer and strengthen the brand perception as a brand that can be trusted.

Customize-vehicles

Choosing and customizing different vehicle’s features.

experience driving in different cities

Sharing an autonomous vehicle

Choosing when to be driven

Experience the future, with upcoming cars and future solutions in mobility.

personalize features.

Ethics
The user is presented with a informed consent form when experiencing this concept. It informs the user which data will collected and how it will be used.
The data that would be collected would be the feedback about such experience when it is done.
The user would not be identified beyond his age and location in the moment of the test.

Thinking about the Roadmap

5. Prototyping & Validating

 

To prototype our idea and be able to validate it at Ford, we made a video with a 360º camera and we have added some simulated functions on it. By doing that, we were able to let people have a VR experience and see how features could be customized.

This prototype is a 360° video, feel free to use your mouse to look around!

This prototype is a 360° video, feel free to use watch it on YouTube and look around it!

A brief reflection about this work

This project provided me with a rich experience on how prototyping elements of a strategy can be helpful in order to communicate it. In addition, having a concept and a name for a strategy can spark curiosity among those stakeholders who are not directly involved with the project. 

At the beginning of this project, some of the involved ones within the company had been quite skeptical regarding the kind of contribution that we could provide the company with. I felt very happy to see how they changed their minds and become very enthusiastic about this project, providing us with their expertise and rich insights.

I am very grateful to all the help we have got from VR team at Ford and our mentors.