Design the Road Condition Alerts

Based on V2X Technologies

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As Garmin R&D center was developing the next generation of the in-vehicle infotainment system, one of the latest technology called V2X (Vehicle to Everything) was planned to be phased in the new system for the usage of road condition alerts.


I was the owner in charge of user experience design for this project, helped the team to study for V2X technology, development trends and related applications of other competitors then designed the concept of alerting UI for different road condition scenarios that could be fit into Garmin’s next-generation infotainment system.

My Role & Process

V2X (Vehicle to Everything) is a technology that is the passing of information from a vehicle to any entity that may affect the vehicle, like the traffic signal, etc. It allows vehicles to “communicate” to each other or other entity so as to improve traffic safety.


Garmin R&D center planned to phase in V2X technology into the next-generation infotainment system. As the UX owner of this project, I was focused on the design of road condition alters for 6 V2X basic scenarios.

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V2X 6 basic safety scenario

Competitive analysis

I conducted a competitive analysis based on the V2X 6 basic safety scenario. Since V2X is the technology which is still in the experimental stage, there’s no such generic infrastructure in the real world. The challenge is that no references for a real infotainment system embedded with the V2X technology, other competitors are mainly during the conceptual design for the road condition alerts.


However, based on the study I could still understand how the competitors design the alerting user interface for the different scenarios and can be good references for our design.


I also delivered the analysis report to the engineering team and discussed it with them for possible ways of implementation. There were 2 main takeaways from the competitive analysis:

  • Warning Message should be as simple and intuitive as possible, so let users can be aware of what going on as quickly as possible
     

  • Warning icons map the user's point of view (real world) to make the warning more intuitive.

Converge the road conditions into 3 main categories

From the V2X 6 basic safety scenario, I found that they can be actually classified into 3 main categories, which can help to simplify the scenarios, and analysis these scenarios in a more systematic manner:

  • Case 1: Forward Road Condition Warning
    When there’re road conditions happen ahead of the driver.
     

  • Case 2: Incoming Vehicle Warning
    There’re incoming vehicles when the driver is passing an intersection.

     

  • Case 3: Blind Spot Warning
    When the driver is changing lane with other vehicles in the blind spot.

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V2X 6 basic safety scenario divided by cases

Development of journey map

Based on the 3 categories above I also developed a journey map for designing the UI of the alerting system,
to empathize with the driver’s mindset under a certain road condition.

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Journey map of a driver  when facing road conditions

The design guideline

From the journey map above it helped me to develop a design guideline:
 

  • Defining the “Emergency Level”:
    I defined the Emergency Level based on how much time a driver can react under a certain road condition. The shorter the reaction time, the higher the Emergency Level.
     

Having the Emergency Level in mind could help me decide how the intense an altering UI should be.
 
After the 3 main categories of road condition scenarios and the journey map were obtained, I could have a clearer picture of the “Emergency Level” for these 3 scenarios:

For Case 1 we expected that the vehicle is moving at a higher speed, so it would be a shorter time for the driver to react, and the Emergency Level would be higher.

For Case 2 and Case 3, since usually the vehicle is changing the lane or is approaching the intersection at a lower speed, it would be a longer time for the driver to react, hence the Emergency Level would be lower.

UI Concept Design and Prototyping

In this stage, I designed for alerting UI based on the previous competitive analysis, driver journey maps, and the design guideline, and also considered how Garmin's current platform could fit in.

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The original concept of Garmin current in-vehicle digital dashboard platform

Case 1: Forward road condition warning

The design concept of the alerting message is from the takeaway of the competitive analysis, I made the warning message as simple and intuitive as possible, and design the warning icons to map users’ point of views in the real world.

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Since this case is with high Emergency Level, the alerting message is popped out from the top for higher impact of the vision and attract the driver’s awareness.

Alert when a road condition happens ahead

From the journey map it could also help me to define when the alert should pop out, and when to dismiss it:
 

  • When to pop out: when the other vehicle braking ahead.
     

  • When to dismiss: when the driver hits the brakes or presses a certain hard-key on the steering wheel.

Case 2: Incoming vehicle warning
  • Design for the alerts of incoming vehicle warning
    Following the same design principle, the warning message is designed to be simple and intuitive and the icon is mapped to the users’ point of view.

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Following the same design principle, the warning message is designed to be simple and intuitive and the icon is mapped to the users’ point of view.

Alert when incoming vehicle is from the left side

Alert when incoming vehicle is from the right side

  • Design for road condition preview of the intersection
    As the Garmin engineering team was also able to develop techniques that detected the other vehicles near the intersection and display the relative location on the dashboard, I helped them to design a quick prototype of the possible way to display them on it.

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The road condition preview of the intersection

Concept of the preview of displaying other vehicles at the intersection when the driver’s vehicle is approaching the intersection. 

  • The design of the road condition preview of the intersection and the incoming vehicle alert can also be combined into the following scenario:

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Case 3: Blind spot warning
  • Design for the alerts of incoming vehicle warning
    Following the same design principle, the warning message is designed to be simple and intuitive and the icon is mapped to the users’ point of view.

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The design for the blind-spot warning is similar to the design for incoming vehicle warning, which pops out the alert either from the left or right to indicate the direction of the incoming vehicles, and makes the usage of original UI (which is the speed field on the left side and the gear field on the right side), and make less interruption to the driver since it is low emergency level.

Alert when incoming vehicle is from the left behind

Alert when incoming vehicle is from the left behind

Alert when incoming vehicle is from the right behind

From the journey map it could also help me to define when the alert should pop out, and when to dismiss it:

  • When to pop out: when the other vehicle is approaching the blind spot.
     

  • When to dismiss: when the driver hits the brakes or press a certain hard-key on the steering wheel or ends automatically after 3 sec.

The Rollout

The final UI concepts were first optimized for the coloring and the visual design by the Graphics UI team then were delivered to the engineering team for their references for the future development of the next-generation infotainment system.

“Thanks for the UX team’s support. We now have a good reference for the UI concept and we can present it to the manager with our technical study during the annual report showcasing our overall development process. ” 
 

-    The leader of the engineering team 
 

Reflection for this project

The conduction of user research and usability testing


Due to the limitation of resources, we couldn’t conduct user research for the project. If the resource is available, the user research can be conducted for observing how a driver interacts with the infotainment system or react to different road conditions to construct a journey map that can be fit into real scenario more. 


Also if there were available resources in the future, I hope a prototype mockup could be embedded in the vehicle that can let us conduct user testing to evaluate the effectiveness of the design of the alerting system.

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