For my Directed Studies class this semester, the overall aim of the module was to write a paper focusing on a Design Fiction we had created. Design Fiction is a method of prototyping in Human Computer Interaction, creating a narrative surrounding the design you intend to build. Design Fiction is very effective means of prototyping as it allows the designer to put their design in a real-life context and envision its use in people’s lives before it’s actually invented.
As a class we were given a choice on what topic we would study for this module. The topic we chose was Urban Interaction Design, which is the application of IxD in urban environments (eg. interactive urban screens, apps for navigating through the streets etc;).
After a class brainstorming session where a lot of interesting concepts were projected (eg. city guide apps, digital displays), I came up with the concept of an app to aid cyclists in urban environments. As an avid cyclist myself who relies on it as mode of transport everyday, this was a concept of particular interest to me.
I cycle in and around the university every day thanks to the abundance of cycle paths, but not once have I cycled into Limerick City. Even though the city centre is less than 2 miles from the university, I always take the bus going to and from it because the thought of cycling never occurred to me. I’m also quite unfamiliar with the rules of the road and if I were to cycle on the main roads into the city, I wouldn’t be fully aware of my authority as a road user.
But for the purposes of the Design Fiction that I wanted to create, I decided to cycle to Limerick city from the university, using the routes provided on Google Maps. From this I came up with the idea for an app aimed at non confident cyclists. The concept of the app (CycleSafe) is a navigational tool for cyclists in urban areas looking for the safest and most convenient route to their destination based on the availability of cycle paths and quality of the terrain. Cyclists can then map the route they took and project it onto a social media platform making comments about the route in terms of safety, distance, elevation, enjoyment etc; for future users to see and learn from.
I also drew inspiration from a more advanced concept similar to this that uses mobile sensors and cellular data to detect route details and track the bike’s progress. You can read it here.
I created my Design Fiction about a typical University of Limerick student, Orla, who wants to cycle to the city centre for the first time and, using CycleSafe, discovers a safe route to the city that she is comfortable taking.
Overall I enjoyed my Directed Study class and creating a Design Fiction. I was very happy with the idea that I had come up with, it was an enjoyable topic to research and I liked developing it in my paper.