Multi-disciplinary Workshop on Technology Design for the Family Car

Workshop 2 [21/3/2014]

To follow up with the themes that developed out of  Workshop 1 ,  we organised and conducted a full day workshop that ran in two interest strands to develop Design ideas for the Family Car: Supporting Family Issues & Game Play in the Car. We had an exciting mix of designers, students and researchers with backgrounds in Industrial Design, HCI and Games Design participating in  developing design ideas within these interests.

-Supporting the needs of parents in the Family car

Within this interest strand, we had participants exploring design opportunities for targeting 1) the organisational features of family work in the car, 2)the integration of  existing technologies into the car and finally 3) thoughts on how to support practices of care- remembering artifcats for specific journeys, planning ahead for the nature of the journey. We observed that designing for families in cars is particularly challenging as there are complex issues to deal with-multiple users, vast amounts of information and the added challenge of designing technology and systems that do not disrupt driving.Technologies with optimal amounts of information was key to designing of these technologies.



-Designing for the playful Family Car Experience

Within the interest strand of studying play practices in the family car, we looked into how design can draw inspiration from :1) how mobile technologies are being incorporated into the car for entertainment purposes, 2)the impact of parental practices and regimes around technology use, 3)re-configuration of screen-based entertainment to increase children’s engagement with the outside environment. Some ideas that developed out of this were around exploring games design for the car that incorporates turn-taking and  involvement of objects in the outside environment. There were also some game concepts to encourage game play across passengers within the car.


We will be further collaborating with designers and users to develop these ideas into concepts.



Design Workshop

Design Workshop 1 [14/2/2014]

We had seven students from the Design Department at Brunel who participated in this Scoping and Exploratory Design Workshop. Drawing on empirical data  from the fieldwork, we looked at Design Opportunities and Solutions to resolve issues in the Family Car. Two main areas were explored in this context:

  • Supporting the needs of Busy Parents: We observed how ICTs are an important part of planning and organising journeys. However, their use is challenged by the ways in which they interact with demands on driving and attention. We explored how design could intervene in creating a seamless environment by which technology can become part of the car environment. Design ideas included gesture based recognition of specific actions of  mobile phone use; sensor-based systems within car spaces that would recognise and use information from devices intelligently. For example, recognising that a mobile phone place on the seat or dashboard means that the driver is ‘unavailable’ or ‘currently driving’.
  • Supporting Backseat Collaborative Play : In our data, we had several instances where children in the back were engaged in collaborative play. However, a number of challenges surfaced while trying to engage in play in the backseat including disagreement leading to disruptions to the driver and front seat passenger. Design opportunities in this regard may look into how games can encourage collaboration and increase engagement with the outside environment. Future implications could also consider reconfiguring the layout of the backseat to facilitate interactions.

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