Yonder

code, design

Yonder is a smart compass for the Apple Watch that helps urban pedestrians quickly orient themselves on the street using popular nearby landmarks. When the traveler taps on a landmark, the compass needle reorients itself accordingly, so she gets immediate, bite-sized, at-a-glance navigation information.

Why? Because it's tough to navigate large urban environments, even when you're a native. In New York, emerging onto a street from the subway system creates a disorienting experience —who among us hasn't experienced the frustration of walking an entire avenue in the wrong direction before realizing their mistake?

Process & Toolkit

Yonder's development began with a series of sketching and scenario generation exercises scoped around the problem space of urban navigation. Through these, my team (consisting of myself, Marcelo Mejía Cobo and Nic Barajas) was able to quickly narrow our attention to outdoor wayfinding.  

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As we worked towards developing a concept, we performed lightweight, guerrilla research in the subways to understand user flows. This helped us realize that the process of removing a phone from a pocket and typing in directions was far too complex of an interaction for this moment. With this insight, we refocused our attention on a wrist-based screen interaction.

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After refining our sketches into medium-fidelity designs, it was time to start prototyping. I chose to build a web-based prototype in HTML, Javascript and OpenLayers. This allowed me to leverage HTML5 location services and a vector mapping API to simulate the wrist-based experience without the development time required to actually build for the Apple Watch.

This allowed us to test on the streets with real users, identify key limitations, and iterate on our designs without making enormous up-front investments. 

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Next steps? Leverage the existing web-based prototype as an asset for unmoderated field research, to learn more about pedestrian behaviors and unmet needs.