Project: Apps on wheels


Project Background

This project Apps on Wheels was about rethinking the future car. The car is no longer only a transportation vehicle that brings us from A to B with new technologies arising, we start to do more and more other things in the car. For example checking our email, calling our friends and even watching movies. What can we as designers contribute to this world? What can the car do if we see it as a member of an ecosystem of cars that communicate to each other?

I decided to look to the car as a device that provides us with extra information so we get a better understanding of the world.  I propose a system that enables you to measure the air quality where ever you are. You are able to see your own hyper local data combined with the data of many others and the government as a reference. This system exists out of a sensor in your car and, maybe in the future, even in your mobile phone, that measures the ultra-fine particles in the air. So that you can see what the air means for you and for others through an intelligent application wherever you are.

See rapport page 6 for more information about the concept. 


For the full process conclusions and results please look in the report that I created.


After the first 3 weeks literature study, I created this movie to communicate my ideas about air quality to a broader public. I knew that I would need to talk to a lot of people about the subject to get a higher understanding of how to create a sensor that can measure the air quality and how to visualize this. The video helped me to formulate my research questions, get other people inspired by my thoughts. It was a good investment to improve my after effect skills.


Goals and Motivations

The main reason why I chose this project is because of my interest in information decoration and interactive adaptive systems. The link between the digital and physical world is where I see opportunities as a designer. The digital world is developing at a rapid pace, for everything we develop an app, but where lies the opportunity for me? In my opinion while driving you don’t need to be disturbed by all sorts of notifications and ad dons, the systems should be intelligent and adaptive.

My goal in this project will be to look at the car as an entity in a bigger scene, which means that will not look at the interaction in the car itself but look to the car as member of an ecosystem of cars. What if all the cars are connected and communicate with each-other?  What information can we collect from cars and what does this information mean for the future? I wanted to come with a innovating concept that took it a few steps further than functions that are already in development, like self driven cars, speech recognition, eye tracking, heads up displays etc. Although these functions will also have great impact on the way we use the car, I believe my strengths lay in my analytically skills.

The car related aspects of this project were completely new for me which made it an interesting field of choice for my further development. One of the motivations I had was that I had to learn how to do a research project. This subject was concrete enough to choose a subject in, and the coaches available would be capable of guiding me through the process.

Besides these goals I had for my project you can read more about goals for this semester in my personal development plan.  

Process and analysis


I started this project very enthusiastic because I had a lot if inspiration and motivation out of the modules. My goal was to continue the way of working as during the module. Very soon I noticed that this was harder than expected, it was a while ago that I had to work individually, which meant for me that I could not discuss my ideas I had, and had to struggle how to develop the concept. Luckily my coach helped me to set clear goals and gave me structure in the way of working without pushing me into one direction.

Choosing subject

The subject mobile air quality measurement proved to be a very interesting subject, there is an enormous amount of literature available that was still in development. I struggled what I needed to do with all this information, I analysed it through mind maps and documents, but noticed that I needed to find a way to bring this information across. I needed experts to help me guide through the process, but before I conducted experts I decided to summarize my initial ideas and literature research in a short video.

An example how I processed the information enable Java to open the app

Midterm movie

This was for me the first time that I build such a movie myself, although I had some experience with modules where we created scenario movies. It took longer than I wanted but looking back it is the most valuable design skill that I learned this semester which I definitely will continue to develop further. The reactions on the movie where very positive and opened a lot of new dialogues with experts and fellow students.


Because I worked alone during this project, I noticed that I had to learn planning on my own. I did this by making visual overviews of the tasks and goals that I had. I noticed that I focused on finishing the tasks before I continued on a new task. I had difficulties multitasking, because I was too uncertain if things where good enough. I needed response on things I made to be able to continue and to stay motivated. I don’t see this as a bad thing, but as something to be taken into account in future projects, its my way of working.

Expert meetings

After the midterm exhibition I really started to talk to people and look for experts. This is something I could have done earlier on in the project. I trusted too much on the information of the internet alone, because the really valuable insights came from the experts. For example that implementing the sensors would be too difficult for the time I had available is something that I could have learned earlier, if I had looked for exerts on sensors.

Final Result and User Research

As end result I have a quite extensive report which gives you a good overview what the meaning of air quality is and why mobile measurement would be an interesting thing to do. Next to this, I focused on learning how to do user centered research I applied co-constructing stories and translated these results to a questionnaire. The nice thing that I noticed during the research is that the answers from the people where very inspirational and had a strong influence on the end result.


The strong focus on making visualizations throughout the process is something I want to take with me to the next semester. This focus helped me to communicate my ideas better and be satisfied about the results. In terms of research process I have learned that literature studies can be good, but that there can be learned even more from experts. By consulting experts it is important to show a bit of your work so they know you take the work serious. The thing that I could have done better here is contact the experts earlier on in the process. Probably a few sketches and bookmarks would already have proven that I take my work serious.

Now the process was a bit linear and could have be more iterative, especially in the final master project where I have a whole year I should rethink the deadlines. Now I have some experience with a design project and research project a combination of these two I feel confident to do my FMP. It is important that I keep the visual aspects and, of course, the strong motivation for the subject.


You conducted an extensive literature study so that you know a lot about the different aspects of air pollution (its origins, how it can be measured, its health effects).

You located experts in the field and managed to talk to them.

You managed to digest all the information and present it in a convenient way


Your strength is also your pitfall: You have a tendency to plunge into every thing that appears relevant and crosses your path, and to continue absorbing information (the proverbial sponge), but you have to limit yourself in order to move to the next stage.  As a result, you experience periods of being lost. Being more selective and staying more in control will help to keep an overview of the process.

This feedback does not come as a surprise to me because it is already something I noticed myself. What I really missed this semester was the possibility to do teamwork, the periods that I was lost I did not conduct enough other people for advice. Keeping an overview is something I have done this semester in a more graphical way but next period I want to make a clearer planning with clear iterations of what I am going to do.



Project feedback


Midterm Poster


Final exhibition Posters
Coach: Jacques Terken Semester: M12 Competencies: Ideas and Concepts, Form and Senses, User Focus and Perspectives, Social Cultural Awareness, Design and Research Processes