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Generative Research, Product Concept, UI/UX

The Third Space

An in-vehicle system that manipulates internal and external environmental factors to create an ideal work and travel space.

In this sponsored client project, me and my partner were prompted with the concept of a “third space” away from work and home. The goal was to explore this alternate space through the creation of our own product concept, while keeping in mind the context of transportation.

Problem

Can we control nature?

In the age of workaholics, people are spending increasing amounts of time in the office. Companies are moving away from traditional cubicles to more creative work spaces — one direction is incorporating nature. Modern workers enjoy nature in their work environments, but they also value customizability and comfort. How do we design a space with nature that allows user control?

Solution

Manipulating artificial and natural

ACCLIMATE is a smart in-vehicle system. Using information from the external environment, it combines natural and artificial conditions to create a custom setting. The system also allows users to manually adjust sound, lighting, and climate within the vehicle. It serves as a portable space adaptable for work and transportation.

Exploring the prompt

Our initial direction was guided by literature reviews on work, transportation, and lifestyle trend articles as well as drawing and ideating exercises. We narrowed down on the topic of changing work environments.

Co-working x retail mashups Millennials: global co-living 2020 Co-working spaces: building community

Work environment and transportation survey

To begin understanding our audience, we created a survey to characterize individuals’ ideal work environments and transportation habits.

Survey findings
Survey — results from surveying 30 professionals across the US on their work environment preferences and transportation/commuting habits.
Insights gathered from our survey
We found that people enjoy factors of the outside environment as well as comfort in their spaces.

Individual interviews and activities

We wanted to further investigate individuals’ preferences. For the next phase, we designed a set of digital activities and interviewed participants as they completed them.

Interview findings
Interview — results from interviewing 16 professionals across the US as they completed a set of 4 activities aimed at understanding each individuals’ work space preferences.
Insights gathered from our interviews
We found that aspects of nature are preferred due to psychological effects and people also like having customizable personal spaces.

In-person generative activity

We wanted to conduct more hands-on and direct research. This two-part activity aimed to identify what factors affect comfortable work spaces and social spaces.

First, we asked individuals to build an ideal work space. We then immersed them in surrounding visuals and sounds imitating a spectrum of natural to artificial environments.
Second, we asked pairs to build an ideal social space. We then immersed them in surrounding visuals and sounds based on an environment of their choice.

Informing our concept

After both activities, we asked participants a set of questions prompting them to reflect on the various environments. We organized our findings into what people said they wanted and what people showed they prioritized.

Activity notes
Activity notes — analyzing how participants acted during activity.
Conversation notes
Conversation notes — analyzing what participants said during interviews after activity.
Insights gathered from generative activity
Our research helped us understand individuals’ want to stay connected to the external environment and nature. However, they also want “protection” from it — ability to control and customize elements and have options.
Final system

Altering sound, lighting, and climate

The ACCLIMATE system focuses on three characteristics of the environment: sound, lighting, and climate. Using a variety of mechanics and technology, it combines and manipulates external and internal conditions.

It incorporates a full vehicle system with automated functions as well as an interface for users to manually adjust sound, lighting, and climate settings.