Omni is a tool to help drivers control their autonomous car.
In the second semester of my second year I did my third semester project. Here we got the challenge to design a product that helps the driver of an autonomous car to transition from driving themselves to the car driving autonomously. Early in the ideation phase of the project we came up with a “magic wand” idea. A playful tool that allows the user to control different aspects of their car with the flick of a the wrist. We later iterated the idea to a sleeker, more serious remote control that better fits the professional setting of the car. We made this change after feedback we received from Mercedes on our concept.
We built the remote control out of sleek wood and equipped it with an Arduino, an accelerator, a button, and a laser pointer. We then built different sensors hidden in wooden blocks. If the user pressed the button and aimed at a sensor, the remote control and the output of that sensor (LED-strip, speakers, the windows of the car, etc.) connected. Then, the user could tilt and flick the remote to control that output. We had a working setup where the user could use the remote to change the music and change the colors on an LED-strip. At the time, this was the most technologically advanced prototype I had ever built. The remote was rather small so we really had to stuff the sensors in there. I learned a lot about using Arduino and processing and how to get them to communicate to each other. I also learned the value of interviewing and keeping in touch with the client of the project.
It became clear to me that a prototype doesn’t need to do everything at once. We could have delivered a prototype with more functionalities if we decided to make a larger, more clunky remote with more sensors to display the technological side, and used an even sleeker, more beautiful remote to display the aesthetics. At the time I felt the need to do everything in one and made it as close to the final product as necessary – that is not the point of a prototype.
Prototypes are just a proof of concept!