Post Covid-19 Mobility Experiences

We are living in an unprecedented time right now and the disruption is driving new and unique behaviors.  It raises many questions moving forward.  What kinds of unique needs and behaviors are we going to see from consumers? What will they desire and how do we begin to understand how to bring value and take advantage of opportunities to create new experiences that are usable, useful and desirable?

Looking at the future of mobility, the pandemic and how it is changing consumer behavior will impact all areas from in-vehicle experiences and connected experiences to public transportation, mobility as a service, and autonomous vehicles.  How will the COVID-19 experience change brand perceptions and consumer decision making including the importance of being trusted, safe and clean?

Car As Sanctuary

This continually shifting new normal comes with new anxieties and concerns.  A central change that we are seeing is that mobility and wellness are on an accelerated convergence with each other.  With the impact of COVID-19, consumers are redefining what wellness and safety mean and they are going to seek designs, products and services that will help safeguard them from germs, viruses, pollutants and more.

It’s going to be important for us to understand which new consumer behaviors and desires are going to be short-lived as a reaction to the pandemic and which are going to be more systemic  needs moving forward.   There will be brand equity in making commitments to creating a future that is safer, cleaner and can be trusted.

Post COVID-19 Mobility Experiences

We have leveraged our depth of research into the drivers of clean, safe and trusted experiences to create a Post COVID-19 Mobility Experiences model that serves as a framework to understand consumers’ emotional needs in this new world and connect them to opportunities to create the new clean, contactless and crowd-less experiences.


Lextant Post Covid-19 Mobility Model

The central emotion at work in our model is the idea of control.  We find ourselves fighting against and protecting ourselves against an invisible enemy.  We don’t know where it is.  We don’t know who has it.   The result is feeling a lack of control and it is changing how we interact with each other and the world.

Post Covid-19 Mobility Model Download

Clean Is The New Safe

To a large degree, being clean is the new definition of safe.  Consumers are seeking to regain control and safety so they can feel confident that they are healthy and as a result relax and diminish stress in their environment.  As we move to the outer layers of the model, we being to explore how can build trust in the systems we design whether they are in-vehicle, autonomous or public transportation related.

We can encourage people to engage with mobility experiences by helping them

  • detect potential wellness and safety threats,
  • prevent those threats or problems from happening, and
  • ultimately protect consumers from them in their everyday interactions.

3 Key Factors To Build Trust

Three supporting factors that will help consumers feel in control and to regain trust rest in providing experiences that are Clean, Contactless and Crowd-less.

1. Clean

The idea of being clean and communicating it is complicated.  Consumers can’t see or know if the air is safe.  How can vehicles prevent and remove impurities from the air and then signal to passengers that it is clean and safe to enter.  Similarly when we think about materials, antiviral materials can be used to keep surfaces automatically clean.  The challenge is how to let consumers know these materials are in place and provide the sensory signals that will let consumers know they are effective.

Another challenge is managing transitions.  We can’t think of cleanliness as a static concept.  It moves and changes through the course of the mobility journey and we have to begin to understand how to design systems to support that for individual vehicles and in shared mobility environments.  It’s going to be very important to communicate the signals of clean in all situations.

2. Contactless

People are actively minimizing contact and physical interaction to protect themselves and maintain control.   A contactless experience is perceived as a cleaner experience.   In many ways, we can think about vehicles as a piece of PPE.  We’re going to see more in the way of autonomous delivery services, drive thru services being optimized, and concierge services for retail brands.  These contactless and contact-minimizing transactions will be mainstays in the post COVID-19 experience, and we need to design to support them.

We also need to be thinking about and designing contactless solutions for public transportation and other mobility services.  There are opportunities to signal that transitions and experiences are clean and deliver them in a contactless way.  Minimizing high touch contact points will reduce consumer anxiety and help feel confident to return shared transportation.

3. Crowd-less

Social-distancing is now our new normal and we’re trying to figure out ways to come together while being apart.  Looking ahead, we see that vehicles will not only continue to serve as sanctuaries but also facilitate new experiences that allow us to avoid crowded group situations.

We may be having more mobile dining experiences, attending drive-in events from our vehicles, using our cars as waiting rooms for appointments.  Vehicle interior designs will evolve to  accommodate and enhance these new experiences and other contactless interactions.

On-demand transportation, mini-mobility and micro-transit services are going to provide ways to help people move in smaller groups where there will be more confidence that the experience is clean and they are safe.


Creating clean, safe environments that facilitate contactless and crowd-less interactions will be an expectation from future mobility experiences in the wake of COVID-19 with long-lasting impact.

Author:  Chris Rockwell, Lextant’s Founder & CEO

Making Smart AI Smarter

We’ve all run into situations where one of our smart devices just isn’t acting so smart – like when Google Maps wants to send you to work on a Sunday afternoon or Spotify thinks you should only be listening to Nickelback.  You’ve probably found yourself wondering:

  • Why did my smart device just do that?
  • How did it get that information?
  • How can I get my smart device to work better for ME?

The trouble with making  our smart devices smarter lies in the inherent limitations of the AI interface.  With algorithms and machine learning, an AI’s output is going to hinge completely on the quality and context of the inputs funneling into it.

When AI is reading the wrong data, lacks context or the ability to take feedback, and applies insufficient reasoning,  you can end up with results that are chuckle-inducing or simply irritating and frustrating.  However at the other end of the spectrum, especially when coupled with a lack of privacy controls,  poor or irresponsible AI design can create and exacerbate serious issues reinforcing cultural biases, creating abusive bots as well as surveillance and security abuses.

What happens though if we create an HMI interface for humans and AI that gives the user the ability to train, tweak and evolve the AI to make what’s smart even smarter.  A human-centered design approach built on heuristics, architecture, usability and standards should create an AI interface where:

  • The user can choose what data is right to use.
  • The user consents to his or her data being used.
  • The user is able to add context to the data being read.
  • The user knows and understands the AI’s capabilities and limitations.
  • The user knows the reasons for the results he or she receives.
  • The user is able to provide feedback into the process.

In the end, humans need smart devices they can trust, control and rely on and that help them do what they want to do as efficiently as possible.  A human-centered design approach can foster truly smart AI interfaces that know the user, know what to do, stay up to date, anticipate and take action to manage themselves all the while giving the user control and protecting privacy.

Contribution from Shasank Nagavarapu, Senior Associate Human-Centered Design

CES In Review: The CASE For Change

From Jon Denham, Vice President Strategy

Reflecting on the countless innovations unveiled during CES 2020, four consistent trend themes emerged across platforms and industries: Connected, Automatic, Sustaining, Experience – the CASE for future and accelerated change.

Connected: Connectivity for devices is nothing new, but the proliferation and scope is expanding at an accelerated pace and with seemingly unlimited scale from smart home environments, to wearable technology and garments and ultimately to your entire out of home ecosystem:

  • Bosch introduced inventory management technology that uses in-refrigerator image recognition to identify items that are added or removed from the fridge. can recommend recipes based on what’s in a user’s connected fridge or pantry — a feature that could potentially save consumers time and money and reduce food waste.
  • Facebook’s Preventative Health is a personal healthcare tool that connects people to health resources and recommendations from leading health organizations to help them stay healthy and prevent serious disease.  This is one of several innovations that are empowering consumers to proactively manage their health.
  • Toyota Woven City is a 175-acre smart city being developed in the foothills of Mt Fuji which will be home to 2000 people creating an integrated environment for experimenting with AI equipped robotic homes, self-driving vehicles, sustainable power and more.

Automatic:  Smart products and systems are increasingly automatic – understanding and anticipating what we want and need.

  • Myant knits sensors and actuators into everyday textiles, giving them the ability to sense and react to the human body transforming the way health, performance and care are measured and delivered
  • Mercedes’ AVTR Concept is inspired by the movie Avatar acting and interacting like a living creature envisioning a future fusion of body and vehicle.

Sustaining:  How will brands and products sustain me, my family and the planet?

  • U by Moen is a voice activated smart faucet that precisely dispenses the exact amount of water needed and at the desired temperature. Perfect for busy, multi-tasking parents needing help in the kitchen and reducing water waste in the home.
  • LG’s Indoor Vegetable Cultivator not only brings gardening indoors but also integrates it with the way we eat. Designed to support the increasing number of people seeking more plant-based diets and sustainable lifestyles
  • You’ve seen the Impossible Burger and now there is Impossible Pork a plant-based pork substitute which is reportedly made with a fraction of the environmental impact of actual pork.

Experience:  The CES keynote address from Delta Airlines’ CEO Ed Bastian shared the company’s investment in the creation of a complete, end-to-end customer experience. Its innovations will have powerful impact for consumers and employees alike:

  • Transparency – Delta partnered with Misapplied Sciences to create Parallel Reality signage technology that allows different people to see images and info personal to them simultaneously presented on a single display transforming the passenger’s experience navigating the airport.
  • End-To-End – Delta is also collaborating with Lyft to provide timely, comfortable and reliable transport to and from the airport to complete the travel experience.
  • Safety & Hygiene – For its baggage handlers, Delta is working with Sarcos to develop a new exo-skeleton system allowing them to safely transfer higher weights for longer periods of time with fewer injuries. For pilots, it has invested in a new app that senses turbulence earlier so they can plot a safer more comfortable ride.  And for consumers, the airline is working with Vital Vio to improve plane hygiene with anti-microbial lamps.
  • Entertainment – Delta has created a more personalized onboard entertainment experience which will ultimately become the passenger’s in-flight hub for communication.

These takeaways from CES hit home that every company is ultimately in the experience business, and those that understand the customer’s journey and leverage technology to anticipate and deliver those ideal experiences will be changing and hopefully improving how we live our lives.

Follow Jon on Twitter @J0nny1putt

Lextant Webinar: Unlocking Desired Mobility Experiences

The recording of  Lextant’s 12/10/19 webinar “Unlocking Desired Mobility Experiences:  Human-centered metrics for an autonomous future” is now available on demand.

As the automotive industry makes larger and larger investments in an autonomous, smart and connected future, we need consumer-centric ways to fuel design and ensure in-market success.

During this webinar, Chris Rockwell, CEO and founder of Lextant, discusses new approaches to understanding human behaviors, and shares insights into how to create experiences users desire and to measure their impact.

To access the webinar recording  Click Here.

The Tesla-ification of the Spirited Driving Experience

I’ve been obsessed with the Scion FR-S/Toyota 86/Subaru BRZ for years. To me, they embody Toyota and Subaru’s commitment to the purebred concept of the roadster, with front engine, rear wheel drive, and playful handling as the most important aspects of the design. This design philosophy translates into a bare-bones, functional interior with minimal creature comforts and simple hard controls for climate and media.

Another positive for car enthusiasts is that the vehicle lends itself well to modifications—Toyota and Subaru knew their target audience would be car enthusiasts who’d love to tinker with their vehicle, and made it easy for them to access the mechanical and electronic parts of the vehicle. And tinker they did—a simple web search will yield hundreds of different possibilities, from headlights/tail lights to exhaust to wheels, even swapping out the engine!

One surprising modification I came across was a new(ish) touchscreen head unit for the Subaru BRZ aptly named “Brainiac,” that combines the media and climate controls into one sleek-looking touchscreen interface.

The “Brainiac” piqued my interest because we spend a lot of time at Lextant discussing how perceptions of a vehicle’s “coolness” or “futuristic quality” ends up being translated into “less buttons and knobs”; more specifically into “like the Tesla with it’s big touchscreen that has everything on it.”

As Human Factors Researchers, we know that the trade-off of this “Tesla-ification” is that you lose the immediacy of access that buttons and knobs provide. To put it simply, hard controls like buttons and knobs may appear to be “old school” and “clunky,” but you don’t have to look at them to operate them, which lets you pay attention to the road.

Paying attention to the road is an important aspect of the spirited driving experience: cutting through canyons and navigating hairpin turns. Knowing how much grip you have through the tires because of how low you are to the ground. I wondered how the community would react.

What I found was a split. Some passionate drivers, like Reddit user TurbochargedSquirrel, shared my view:

Others seemed open to the idea of a touchscreen interface just to add a bit more flair to their vehicles.

This split is something we’ve seen in our research for a while now—people who prefer simplicity and want to focus on the driving primarily, and those who want all the bells and whistles that modern technology has to offer. My reservations with replacing traditional controls with touchscreen interfaces remain, but to the credit of the developers of Brainiac, they have added touch gestures to their interface to allow the user to perform actions without having to look.

So what’s the best of both worlds? Is there a way to maintain the spirit of driving intact while also moving away from old fashioned controls? Designer Kasper Kessels’ concept might provide the answer. With help from the design department at Renault, he created a concept for incorporating touch gestures into a vehicle’s infotainment that aims to solve the issue of the visual component that touch gestures tend to lack.

In the end, I’d like to pose the question to you—what do you think about the move towards “Tesla-ifying” in-vehicle infotainment systems? Are we attempting to fix something that’s not broken? Is there a way to create an interface that caters to both spirited drivers as well as technophiles?

We’d love to know what you think.