Power of prototypes to push mobility boundaries

When fighting experience with experience, prototypes are the key to opening people’s eyes to something new.
Whenever we envision the future,

how we will prepare food, live healthier lives or move from A to B, we start at our own personal experiences. This comes naturally, as personal experiences are usually the most emotive and easily accessible. But it’s also tricky, as it seduces us to stay in certain positions and not move further and explore other people’s experiences. Luckily, we (working in service design) are well aware of these biases and our methods of user research keep us from simply following anecdotal evidence no matter how strong it is.

But what we learned

is that if we want to convince a client or user (or really anybody with strong prior experiences) of a radically new concept we need to fight experience with experience. For us this means we need to be very clear on what exactly we want the other to experience and how that is different (and potentially better) than their prior, sometimes almost lifelong experience.

A good example

is our work with clients in the mobility sector. Everybody is mobile: on the train, the bus, the subway, motorbikes, bicycles, hover boards and soon all kinds of other in-betweens. We have all driven cars or at least spent a significant amount of time in them. We know the downside of cars: spending hours in traffic jams, searching for a parking space, the noise and pollution. But we may also enjoy driving, the freedom and flexibility of travelling wherever whenever, the speed, and the thrill of going fast on the motorway. So when talking to these experts who designed, engineered and built the experience of current generation cars, we must offer them an experience of a future vision that is comprehensive enough to overcome the first "Yes, but..." reflex.

This is the time

when we start building full scale, physical prototypes. PowerPoint has its strength, so do videos, but nothing beats sitting inside a hand-built, functional demonstrator. It opens all senses: smart fabrics can be felt and seen, you can place yourself in new sitting arrangements, experience the role of light or of sound, as well as entertainment, the feeling of seamlessness and autonomous driving. Here is the place where you can discuss the changes of infrastructure, connectivity and data-driven services that will shape our experience of mobility; because you can transfer all these abstract concepts into an enjoyable and desirable experience. And once you are there you can challenge not just personal experiences but the unshakable confidence, passion and enthusiasm that car manufacturers have built traditional cars with for the last decades.

And while building prototypes is fun, really, our job is to challenge the existing designs and push for a concept of mobility that reaches far past the physical.