Connected and autonomous car technologies are one of the central corporate agenda for Samsung Electronics. Currently, Samsung now has its own connected car solution -- Samsung Connect Auto. In its early development stage, I participated in 6-week student user experience research for developing a concept design idea for connected car solution.
Along the 6-week timeline, I could work closely with one of the senior UX researchers in Samsung as a mentor, and also two briliant industrial engineering students from KAIST. The company offered the interns accommodations in the same building of the office.
Samsung has developed Evolution Mapping System (EMS), which is collaborative patent analysis software, embedded on tabletop touch-screen. The system visualizes imported patent data in bubbles so that multiple users can read and group as a network map. We read and filtered about 1,700 patent abstracts of the topic of connected cars. We created two patent maps regarding connected car technologies based on car companies and software companies.
We found that there are some big differences between automobile companies (Ford, GM, etc.) and software companies (Apple, Google) when it comes to their focusing area of development. While car companies focus on developing hardware spec--detection, monitoring, actuation technologies, software companies more inclined to develop within-vehicle experience; interface controls and device connections. We concluded that Samsung should find its opportunity in-between.
We also came to realization that the most recent patents already prospect higher technologies, even such as self-parking or self-fueling technologies. However, we had to compromise our design to be also adopted to users. Full adoption of autonomous cars in South Korea would take another 3+ years.
Based on analysis, I identified the strength of the corporate lies on its hardware technologies as well as its network technologies. Therefore, one of the key considerations in design was incorporating Samsung's strong manufacturing technologies and creating connect hub for Samsung mobile appliances. A number of ideation sessions for existing product design modification and new product development were also carried during the whole process. Among the ideas, we selected three design ideas that considering user needs and corporate values.
I designed lo-fi prototype of the 3D model of the design and printed out with corporate 3D printer in a smaller-size. technical requirements were examined with one expert.
Two patent evolutionary maps based on 1,170 patent analysis were created. In the final presentation, we presented final product design concept video, and proposed Creation-Driven Patent Analysis (CDPA) methodology, which consists of inducive product design process based on patent mapping.
It was a good opportunity to see how one of the biggest tech companies put its effort into focus on better user experience. Furthermore, design should be based on concrete rationales and thorough research.
On the other hand, I could also glance the limitation of design that is solely based on product and market research in the lab. Focusing on novelty, we faced several moments that we got confused on what experiences we try to improve. This eventually got me interested in qualitative research and how designers can understand more situated, contextual needs for designs.