Alerts and Warnings for Older Adults

How might we design alerts and warnings that give older drivers a sense of confidence?

Task

To design alerts and warnings for older drivers

For

Fiat Chrysler Automotive Group
Design For America

Duration

Fall 2013

Relevant Skills

Mechanical Design
Electrical Engineering
Project Management

About Project

Through Design for America, I led a team of engineers and industrial designers to redesign alerts and warnings for older drivers for Fiat Chrysler Automotive Group. I was the mechanical designer and prototype builder in the group.

Research

To find user to interview and observe, I reached out to the Helen Mary Stevick Center in downtown Champaign. This was the headquarters for the Retired Senior Volunteer Program. There we talked to and interviewed several older adult drivers about their driving habits and fears. We found that they tended to get sensory overload from modern day sensors, especially beeping sounds from proximity detectors. We also discovered that they preferred to rely on their experience and senses rather than try and use modern technology aids. Lastly, poor night vision was a commonly voiced concern.

Design and Engineering

From our research we set out to design 2 separate concepts. The first was a color changing LED proximity detection system that can be integrated into ambient lighting of the car. This system bathes the car in a warm glow, consequently engaging the peripheral vision of the driver without fully overwhelming their visual or auditory senses

The second concept was corner illumination headlights. Older drivers have poor night vision and also a limited field of view, thus when driving on at intersections they can benefit from additional illumination that is pointed in the direction they are turning towards.