This project was created over a 13 week period in 2018 during the Interaction Design Studio at the University of Sydney in conjuction with my team Bethany Koulyras and Benjamin Fleming. Our concept of Autonomous Secure Housing was awarded Best Research Design by the university.

Brief

You are tasked with mapping the interactions that will be required to interface with autonomous vehicles in future cities.

Objective

The goal of this research assignment was to investigate the major issues within the government & private system's set-up to improve the lives of domestic violence sufferers. In doing this we hoped to learn about the major pain points throughout this process and assess where we could be most affective in designing a component of the solution.

Research

We began this project by researching government policies about issues within NSW and were aiming to find an issue that remained despite years of research and effort. We soon found that homelessness in Sydney was extremely high and that there was extremely low gender parity within this system. After looking into why women were becoming homeless to ee what we could do to help it became clear that the #1 reason for women's homelessness was Domestic Violence. Once we had decided on a problem space we began our first hand research by triangulating the major stakeholders within this topic;

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Individual Research

To speed up the process we each chose an area to focus on and deep dove into it. I was targeting the police and was aiming to understand their role in preventing and dealing with current and future Domestic Violence issues.

Questions
  • Who is affected by domestic violence?
  • What are the current plans and processes already in place?
  • What are the major issues/pain points with the processes?
  • How can autonomous vehicles improve the lives of people involved?
Methods
  • I conducted open-ended interviews with officers involved with the process of domestic violence reports. I transcribed and analysed this information to determine the key areas of focus.
  • I also conducted a contextual analysis of the “behind the scenes” processes and methods employed when interacting with sufferers.


Insights

Domestic Violence has directly affected 39% of the population (ABS, 2018), but indirectly it affects everyone, doing increasing damage to our society & costing billions each year (White Ribbon, 2017). This issue "doesn’t have a face/demographic", it is anyone and everyone in the Australian population “men, women, children from 20 to 80 years old, people with and without money and from any ethnicity. Currently the police are doing their best to deal with these incidents but have limited resources and time.

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Ideation

We used our research to map out the actors in our domain and make sense of where their needs crossed, where technologies were used successfully and where they lacked proper implementation. This began our brainstorming of ideas for a solution; we quickly became frustrated with our early concepts. The complexity lead us to solutions that were either too narrow or broad, after walking through them with our personas we were unsatisfied with their originality.

We were employing a top down method of generation - using a swathe of data to come to a few solutions. To overcome this creative stagnation we decided to flip our approach, researching and selecting two design methods to generate multiple light concepts that we could then analyse and distill into novel approaches (Tomitsch, 2017).

Forced Assosciation

As a team we agreed upon the stakeholders to create a set of cards for (Police, Refuges, Courts etc) and then individually created twenty - thirty vehicle cards (Bus, Bike, Cart etc) as laid out by Tomitsch et. al (2017). We combined this with lecturer Stephanie Grace’s problem statement method to each create more than twenty concept statements and sketches to analyse.

Brain writing 6-3-5

Each member had a piece of paper folded into sections with the chosen solutions at the top. Using a timer - we each wrote a feature, use case or scenario on each square and then rotated the sheets on the buzz, reflecting and then building upon each others ideas. Once complete, we discussed the methods outcomes. Initially we had hoped to come out with two concepts to pursue, but the almost went too well.

Story-boarding

Once the ideas had been generated and refined we then went on to storyboard each idea individually and then re-group to ensure we were all on the same page with the concepts. A short sketch was created (6 Frames) of each of the 3 concepts explaining the core processes and elements involved in implementing the solution.

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Social Worker Assistant Bot | Educational Maintenance Cart | Secure Housing Bus

User Testing

The next step was to create paper prototypes of the interfaces for each of the concepts and get them into the hands of our users (based off personas). We conducted multiple user test with each interface, recording them to analyse later. We found that one of our concepts was clear leader as it was far easier for the participants to understand and so we decided to continue refining this design with further iterations.

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Social Worker Assistant Bot
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Educational Maintenance Cart
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Autonomous Secure Housing Bus

Iteration

Once the user testing was completed we wen back over our designs and began working on improving the major pain points that were discovered and included more features we found necessary to make this a successful design. Our aim was to focus on solving these issues:

  • Women do not leave dangerous situations for a myriad of reasons
  • Even if they did want to leave - there could be nowhere to go
  • Victims do not have access to resources
  • Police may not be the best first responder to domestic violence

So we moved through a variety of iterations and design, performing more rounds of user testing to ensure we were remaining on track with our targets.

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Solution

After focusing on how autonomy could best help those most affected by DV we came up with a concept that combined a mobile app with an in-car interface that would provide the user with the skills and resources they needed to gain access to help and most importantly protect them and their anonymity.

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Core Components

The final concept for the Autonomous Secure Housing (ASH) system is a mobile app that allows users to order an autonomous bus to a set location at anytime, removing them from a dangerous situation at home.

The in-car component of the project was focused on making the user feel as comfortable as possible in this new environment. We achieved this by providing constant feedback about where the bus was in relation to geography and it's immediate surroundings.

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The final concept for the Autonomous Secure Housing (ASH) system is a mobile app that allows users to order an autonomous bus to a set location at anytime, removing them from a dangerous situation at home.

The in-car component of the project was focused on making the user feel as comfortable as possible in this new environment. We achieved this by providing constant feedback about where the bus was in relation to geography and it's immediate surroundings.

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Our research revealed to us that women do not leave dangerous situations because of fear of repercussions, fear of the unknown or the safety of their children. Victims also rarely want to leave a situation - they just hope the violence will stop. It takes on average eight attempts to leave a violent relationship.

The app contains a "HIDDEN MODE" that instantly changes the screen to a simple game until a code is entered to protect their privacy. This function is available from all screens within the app and was included to to help build trust with users as they needed a way to quickly and effectively disguise their activity within the app.

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Our research revealed to us that women do not leave dangerous situations because of fear of repercussions, fear of the unknown or the safety of their children. Victims also rarely want to leave a situation - they just hope the violence will stop. It takes on average eight attempts to leave a violent relationship.

The app acts as the key to unlock the Autonomous Secure Housing when it arrives which provides a safe space for women unobstructed by police. As we found women would be more likely to seek help if this response was more subtle and aimed more toward teaching rather than persecution.

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The in-car component of the project was focused on providing constant feedback to the user about where the bus was geographically and in relation to it's immediate surroundings.

The interface utilises window pop-ups that lay over the main screen to provide controls. It also contains information on processes that can be used to protect the user in future scenarios and also contact details of services they can contact to ask for more help.

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