BEACH AUGMENTED REALITY
IXD 310 — LOS ANGELES MOBILITY PROJECT
Context: We were given the task of solving a mobility issue in a busy city center around Los Angeles and after much discussion, we chose the Venice Beach Boardwalk. Here, we were to consider and understand how visitors go about navigating the area and finding issues that diminished their experience in enjoying the space.
Project Type: UI/UX
Team Members: Ava Arshadi, Armel Patanian, Julia Engfer, Miguel Juteau
Role: Facilitation, User Researcher, Digital Design, Videography and Editing
Part of Venice Beach’s culture is the crazy amount of foot traffic that occur in the area, especially on the bike path. One of the biggest problems that were based on our interviews was the lack of awareness and etiquette on the bike path.
According to the locals, tourists who utilize the path do not know how to maneuver around other cyclists, the bike path, and more importantly, other people and this poses as a danger that can have serious consequences.
Introducing Venice Beach Augmented Reality Glasses or VBAR. An augmented reality experience with the goal of creating a HUD that guides users in real-time on how to maneuver around other objects on the bike path.
VBAR Video Concept
We imagine it being implemented in local bike rental stores where tourists can rent the glasses together with the bikes and get the experience all in one place.
How It Works
How it works is that there are sensors that will be attached to elevated places such as the trees or poles that are abundant in Venice. Next, thhe sensors gather information such as objects on the bike path or objects approaching the bike path. Then, it sends the data to the cloud where it relays the information to the glasses. Lastly, the glasses then responds by projecting the necessary information that will be useful for the users’ safety.
Visiting Venice for the first time, we noticed a lot of wayfinding issues from the signage being tagged. We observed this especially on the bike path itself. Even though there were signs that restricted pedestrians and motorized scooters from going on the path, the lack of enforcement of the rules gave way for non-cyclists to use it. For cyclists, this meant that there were more possible collisions and hazards that could happen during their ride on the bike path.
When we stepped on to the shoes of pedestrians walking on the path, we noticed the dangers that this posed for cyclists as they maneuver around the pedestrians and going over the other lane. We knew that for those who aren’t mindful and aware of their surroundings, this a recipe for disaster for cyclist incoming from the other lane.
“Riders sometimes can’t brake fast enough to avoid kids darting away from their parents. They need general awareness.”
Gill has been riding the bike path for over 20 years. He’s an experienced cyclist who loves biking because you get to experience life to the fullest instead of being enclosed in a car. You get to observe different things going on and enjoy the weather and people. He lives in Torrance and rides his bike all the way from Torrance. His primary concern was people going too fast on their bikes as well as motorized scooters that zoom by. He emphasized that there is no awareness, and that people need awareness so that others around them can bike safely.
“People here can’t recognize when to slow down! They don’t use the same common sense as when they’re in a car. How can you teach that?”
Mike is an experienced biker and a Venice local. He also expressed his disdain for motorized scooters occupying the bike path. He also made note of “speed racers” who have no regard for others on the bike path and put everyone’s safety at risk. He wishes people would know how to brake and slow down accordingly.
“This girl was instagramming herself and walked right into me while I was biking, like backwards.”
Maya is newer to biking and was having a biking date with her boyfriend. When we encountered her, she was stranded in the middle of the bike path because her water bottle had fell, and had remained stagnant for about 3-4 minutes which could feel like a really long time for someone who is standing in the middle of a bike path with other bikers zooming by. No one stopped for her to be able to pick up her water bottle and you could feel her anxiety, which is why we decided to approach her.
Based on our interviews, we uncovered that the TOURISTS were the ones who had the most issues when it comes to wayfinding and lack of understanding of the biking etiquette.
- Safely travel with his children
- To quickly explore everything a place has to offer
- Use rented bikes on trips for transportation
- Children’s fun and safety
- Constantly on high alert in busy areas
- Poor wayfinding in vacation spots
- Not knowing who to contact for help during emergencies
Looking at other current AR technology for cyclists, all of them focus more on the rider’s stats and alerts about their surroundings. How we’ll be different is that we’re actually giving riders real-time guidance on how and where to go based on the incoming objects that lie ahead.
In our first round of prototyping, since our target users are tourists, we wanted the interface’s elements to not rely so much on language so we wanted to utilize SIGNS AND SYMBOLS instead to safely guide the cyclists along the bike path.
When we tested our HUD’s interface elements to verify whether or not users understood the symbols, we found out that users did not respond well to our iconography. They said it wasn’t very intuitive, comprehensible, and it was obtrusive.
New Inspiration and Iteration
After iterating on the icons and receiving negative feedback, we decided to pivot to a new direction. We looked towards racing games such as Forza Horizon and Asphalt for inspiration. What we liked about these games was how they help guide players in the right direction by superimposing directional signs for the drivers to follow.
In the end, we came up with a guidance system concept that utilizes both color and shape to help enhance our tourists’ cycling experience along Venice Beach.
By experimenting with different visual systems that can be recognizable to a wider range of international audiences, our goal is to be able to create something that can easily be picked up by our tourists so that it can help them avoid potential accidents on the bike path.
Although we didn’t get the chance to test our product with actual tourists to see if it makes sense for them or how could we change it so they could use it better, the work was a success on a conceptual level. My team and I were able to think through the problem by asking ourselves how we could either teach or foster awareness and etiquette to people in order to build a system to help create a safer space on the bike path for everyone.
On our next iteration, if we decide to move forward with this particular concept, we will probably think through ways of how we could make this more cost-efficient and accessible for everyone. The city currently does not have the infrastructure and budget to implement such an initiative so designing for a much simpler solution will be our next focus.
Thinking through the project on a broader scale, we would also find ways to engage with local businesses and create an overall experience that tourists can participate in before they even reach Venice Beach. Perhaps they could reserve their wearable guidance system ahead of time and be able to find local hotspots along the way to make most of their trip abroad.