Mobility Futures

Greenfield Labs is an auto / mobility studio partnership between Ford Motor Company + IDEO in Palo Alto, CA

Mobility Futures

As part of my work with IDEO I did a tour at Greenfield Labs, our joint venture with Ford Motor Company. Based in Palo Alto, CA and focused on new mobility futures, the lab explores everything from cloud-connected vehicle interactions, to autonomous vehicles, to speculative design for what a future city infrastructure might look like when all vehicles are autonomous.

The Challenge
How might we improve the experience of cloud-connected vehicles by providing smart digital services that are relevant to the user?

The Approach
Connected vehicles are relatively new and the space is highly fragmented, with everything from OEM-provided apps to third-party devices to mobile-device integrations such as Apple CarPlay and Android Auto all competing for the consumer's attention. With so many ways to do the same thing (e.g. maps, music, etc), we first began by exploring how consumers are currently interacting with their cars, and how they extend a car's functionality with 3rd party devices.

Uncovering user insights via contextual research in the field

We conducted field research in California, Texas, and Pennsylvania to surface insights from a variety of populations, speaking to everyone from electric vehicle hypermilers to sports car tuners to 4WD offroad enthusiasts, each of which had different reasons for and method of connecting technology to their vehicles. We also spoke to people with older vehicles that were not app-enabled to see if there was a way to create value for them even without a direct link to the vehicle, and to uncover the needs of owners further along the ownership journey.

The Result
While I can't speak too specifically to the output, we identified a variety of moments in the ownership user journey that were ownable by the OEM, as well as desirable in the eyes of the consumer. These experiences represented an under-served yet universal part of the ownership user journey where Ford could provide a trusted service to the vehicle owner. After several rounds of prototyping and research with users, we took the designs through a feasibility review with engineering teams, as well as a viability review with product managers before being shared out to Ford senior leadership.

If you'd like to learn more about my role and what problems the project addressed, please get in touch.