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benjamin dove | interaction design institute ivrea, 2003 - 2005
june - september 2004

2.5 month internship project at Siemens VDO, Rambouillet, France.

jamshare - summer internship project at Siemens VDO

Through use of proximity based networks, clusters of vehicles caught in a traffic jam could choose to interact with each other through music collection sharing (streaming) and other possible representations of the dynamic local network/community.

jamshare - concept diagram, possible multi-integration for a single, personal device.

In the not too distant future, people might use their mobile phone for all personal multimedia playing and storage. New phone models with hard drives and wifi capability suggest a possible wireless personal music/media player, where people can directly buy media for the device with the device itself, anywhere.

This concept looks at how this future phone/personal device might interface with the car multimedia system, in a way that is appropriate to the driving and traffic environment.

jamshare - concept diagram, traffic jam ad-hoc networks...

Project proposal
July – September 2004

Traffic-jam culture?

Today, traffic jams are a major part of many motorists' day – this is not likely to change in the future. Being stuck in a traffic jam can be stressful and frustrating while the driver is helpless and trapped in a queue of slow or non-moving traffic. Essentially the driver is forced to wait inside the car for an unknown period of time. Traffic jams are likely to get worse in the future, how can this be made less painful for the car user?

This project proposes to investigate current activities and behaviors acquired by drivers (and passengers etc.) to cope with this 'traffic jam time', and to use these findings to suggest new interaction/technology systems that can enhance the user's experience of this inevitable aspect of driving.

How might vehicle occupants of the future make use of the potential dynamic peer-to-peer networks made possible by increasingly ubiquitous car-based wireless hardware and multimedia interfaces, in the traffic jam environment?

Through use of proximity based networks, clusters of vehicles caught in a traffic jam could choose to interact with each other through itunes style music collection sharing (streaming) and displaying playful messenger status-like identities (in a screen based representation of the local network/community?).

Issues to be explored here could involve;

  • Legalities of music sharing/streaming over local networks (itunes is limited to 5 concurrent users over a LAN).
  • Social aspects of traffic jams, or traffic in general (like people in same model cars sharing knowledge and helping each other with problems on web forums, motorcyclists nodding to 'fellow bikers' on the road etc).
  • Dynamic networking (and its representation) on the car multimedia system/screen.
  • Network games?! – 'commuter clubs'.
  • Enhancement of the 'commuter culture' experience, another way to explore the 'familiar stranger' phenomenon.

Some research will be needed to evaluate general trends and habits for dealing with traffic jams. This could range from simple roadside observations at regular traffic hotspots, to a more elaborate in-car 'spy-camera' installation to record a driver's (and passengers) activities during yet another traffic jam.

A fully working mp3 player was built, on top of which a 'sliding panel' interface could be implemented, to experiment with ways of using a touch screen (as is becoming increasingly used for the multimedia interface in car infotainment systems) to browse a large music catalogue.

jamshare - prototype interface design screengrab 1
The music libraries currently available
jamshare - prototype interface design screengrab 2
Active buttons 'blow-up' to provide visual feedback (in addition to an audio 'bleep') of touchscreen interaction
jamshare - prototype interface design screengrab 3
A 'wishlist' function, allowing the user to instantly grab the details of any song played (streamed) from another person, to collect and buy at a later time
jamshare - prototype interface, user-test videoclip
video clip of the prototype in use (wmv, 12mb, no sound unfortunately)

The overall concept seems interesting and convincing having discussed and presented the idea and prototype. More detail could now be put into the interaction of the touchscreen interface, and the interaction methods used for media browsing and playing. The prototype shows potential for use as a platform for further, similar prototype development, pending necessary refinements.

Post presentation observations and feedback:

Double clicking/tapping on the touch screen is too difficult.

Font size too small for realistic car use. (future scenario though!!?)

Phone/single integrated connected device concept seems convincing.

Touch-screen interaction, particularly in the car, is in need of some thought. (general issue, i.e. feedback, tactility substitution, physical characteristics of the touchscreen surface - like raised ribbing/bumps etc... also check out vibration feedback touchscreen tech.?)

Interaction gestures could be more 'intentionally' switched, so an accidental tap on the touchscreen would not be misunderstood as an instruction - like needing to drag a song into the active/play area to make it play.

The menu system needs to spring back to the current state so that any action affecting the song currently playing is not hidden, i.e. so that when a song is playing and the user browses other lists, then either does nothing or presses one of the controller buttons (rewind/play/pause/fforward/stop) to jump back to the current state (the track panel is visible on the currently playing artist/album selection).

Maybe would be more useful to have separate play and pause buttons to allow the user to scroll to a song, and play it by pressing play, rather the current setup of first pressing stop to change the pause button back to the play button state (if there is currently a song playing), and then pressing play.. more buttons on screen but less actions required to do a repetitive task.

Scrolling action maybe too free at the moment, could be more restricted in that the cursor could be fixed and the list scrolls which might be easier to control. The 'free-scrolling' action looks nice though - maybe it could become easier to use with practice!?

The touchscreen interaction in general seems to require a certain type of 'touch', where some people seem to be able to control it easier than others on first use, again maybe this is a skill which just requires practice and a degree of acclimatisation.

Networking aspect - could you exclude certain people if so desired? Social impact of this ?? judging people (strangers) by their music collections, like we do now with visual/clothes/fashion? i.e. - someone who's visual appearance says 'stay away from me'.. how might this interaction work in a networked music environment.

Note the way CB radio is used/has been used - social interactions promoted by a technology, for truck drivers etc.. Possible pointers for how a 'jamShare' system might develop.

Difficulty in implementing something like 'jamShare' in today's reality due to lack of established standards/protocols for the devices involved, i.e. which mp3 player/formats to support etc... In the future maybe the incar multimedia system/computer will be powerful and flexible enough to be open and upgradeable, then again would this really happen - losing of proprietary/intentional/business orientated limitations?

Research Summary (previous work and inspiration) :

Bubbles: Navigating Multimedia Content in Mobile Ad-hoc Networks


SoundPryer: Joint Music Listening on the Road


Making Motor Bikers Come Together - Fast Moving Users and Mobile Ad Hoc Networks


Designing Leisure Applications for the Mundane Car-Commute


Adding value to traffic encounters: A design rationale for mobile and Ad-hoc computing services.


The Familiar Stranger: Anxiety, Comfort, and Play in Public Places


Providing Privacy While Being Connected


tunA: Local Music Sharing with Handheld Wi-Fi Devices


The Wired Car in the Wired World (online article, June 2001)


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