The project concept was to create a minimalist LED display which is capable of communicating turn-by-turn navigation to the user by displaying simple animations in the peripheral vision. Design goals were to minimize rider distraction by removing the need to look down at a smartphone or GPS screen mounted to the handlebars, and to intrude on the riding experience as little as possible.
We chose to link the helmet-mounted display to a smartphone navigation app. Offloading the navigation process, and using existing technologies like Bluetooth, allowed us to keep the design for the helmet-mounted components as simple and light as possible, to reduce manufacturing costs by piggybacking on existing smartphone technology, and limit needs for software updates.
We began our design process with various need-finding techniques including interviews, card sorting, cognitive maps and shadowing users. We also validated our storyboards and product sketches to make sure the concept resonated with users.
Synthesizing information gathered during the need-finding process resulted in five user personas representing a diverse user base.
We used lo-fidelity prototypes to explore a range of animations and determine a minimum set necessary to communicate turn-by-turn directions.
Using this process we determined that a 3-color (RGB) LED strip would be sufficient to display a minimum set of instructions. Using an Arduino Uno, a Bluetooth module, and a pre-fabricated LED strip, allowed us to quickly mock-up a functional prototype. We connected the display to a simple Android app allowing us to manually trigger the various animations. Using this setup we conducted Wizard of Oz style testing with users in a real-world setting.