A study project by Jessica Hammer, Silvio Lepszy and Julia Metzmaier.
A new way to commute
Our research pointed out that commuters who regularly travel by regional train have an interest in communicating with other passengers. But many do not know how to start such a conversation. For this reason we created the ComSalon.
This is an interactive space limited to four seats within a large compartment of a regional train, which is intended to offer users the opportunity to talk to their fellow passengers in a relaxed atmosphere. Inside the room there is an auditory character, named „Neo“, which should initially help the users to start a conversation.
Neo – the auditory character
As the conversation progresses he also suggests interesting topics of conversation and creates a pleasant atmosphere.
The auditory character NEO is available as a further passenger interested in conversations. With the space and the concept of creating the individual activities of each traveller through the to replace a communal experience, each trip should become an individual experience.
About 60% of all employees in Germany live in a different town than their workplace. For example, two thirds of employees subject to social insurance contributions who work in the metropolises of Frankfurt am Main, Düsseldorf and Stuttgart live outside the city limits. According to the Federal Statistical Office, around 30% of employees in Germany have a journey to and from work ranging from 10 to 25 km and have to commute for about 30-60 minutes, 5% of them for even over an hour. While the vast majority (68%) of those in employment prefer to travel to work by car, around 20% choose public transport, including around 5% by suburban train or rail. As the possibilities to work while driving are very limited, the team opted for commuters. The members of the team are also familiar with the commuter situation from their own everyday lives, as some of them also have to cover long distances to get to work/university.
This has encouraged them once again, to find a solution that will help commuters who to be able to enjoy the driving time again.
A deeper insight into the commuter world was achieved through a field study in which potential users in the train or at the station were addressed and interviewed directly.
Flowchart (in german only)
Creating a user experience
The designs were developed on the basis of the following requirements:
The room should be a cozy and familiar atmosphere in which the passengers can enjoy themselves. They should also not feel disturbed in their privacy by other passengers outside the compartment. The seats should be comfortable and facing each other (if necessary even turnable) this way the passengers are able to watch the call. The light is soft and warm, but still illuminates the whole room. It should a kind of living room atmosphere is created.
The ComSalon consists of two components that cannot be separated from each other: The previously described room and the auditory-visual character called „Neo“, who lives in this room.
The character is a virtual adult travel companion who settles in the ComSalon in the form of a voice interface.
His appearance changes throughout the day. For example he is a little calmer early in the morning, whereas in the course of the day he becomes more active. It was deliberately decided not to adapt the character in its way to the transport company, because the other travellers should feel that they can identify with it. He understands their situation and the troubles of commuting.