Lock-It Mobile App
A new way of locking your bike on campus
More than a quarter of the student population ride their bikes to and from class each day on Georgia Tech campus. During peak times, student bikers often have trouble finding parking spaces, spending long amounts of time finding a spot.
To address this user need, we designed Lock-It, a smart locking system for bikers, consisting of a mobile app and a modified U-lock.
The Biker's Ecosystem
UX Designer, UX Researcher
Class project (team of four), 4 months
Sketch, Principle, Illustrator, Pencil & Paper
How might we increase the amount of bike storage available during peak times while not hindering upon pedestrian traffic
Bike space availability
Users will be able to view available bike spaces to better plan out their commute, thus decreasing the time looking for a rack space.
Reserve space ahead of time
Users will be able to reserve a lock space ahead of time so as to have a peace of mind before heading to their destination.
Monitoring your bike
Users will be able to monitor the location of their bike from the lock screen and know how much time there is left on their reservation.
Users will be notified if there is unknown tampering with their lock.
More efficient locking
Users will be able to easily lock their bikes with the new modified U-lock, decreasing locking time.
Understanding the user
We started out by identifying user needs. The course project focused on campus life. We wanted to think about safety for commuters on campus.
We conducted some initial unstructured interviews with the Georgia Tech Police Department (GTPD) on campus. Talking to them gave us a better insight into where most of the crimes on campus were bike thefts. Because of this insight, we decided to survey and interview student bikers.
- Method: semi-structured interviews
- Who: 12 student bikers, 2 members of Georgia Tech Police Department
- Goal: to understand the concern for bicycle safety
- Method: attaching GoPros to bicycle helmets
- Who: 2 student bikers
- Tasks: maneuvering around campus, locking bicycle
- Goal: to see how student bikers are finding parking spots
We created two personas that were used throughout our design process so that we could better understand our users.
Analyzing our data
We wanted to understand how users go about biking from point to point and the different decisions they had to make along the way. We conducted a task analysis.
In a group session, we analyzed our notes from our interviews on an affinity diagram. This helped us categorize our interview notes to identify patterns among bikers.
Defining our problem space
While our initial focus was on bike thefts, in our research, we found bigger problems that bikers had on campus. We identified 2 core problems:
- Bikers were having a hard time finding a space to park during peak time
- Bikers will forget where they lock their bikes and spend extra time trying to find it
Once we identified the problems, our next goal was try to come up with design ideas that addressed these issues. We came up with 20+ ideas and plotted them along a feasibility vs. usefulness graph.
We narrowed down our ideas to 3 design alternatives:
- Interactive parking map integration with Google Maps that would route bikers to the nearest available bike rack during their ride
- Modular bike storage that would expand storage as needed (i.e. peak times)
- Underground storage space that would let bikers store their bikes below the ground
We demoed these 3 ideas to the class. Based feedback, we decided on the idea of a modular bike storage system. The underground storage space was not too feasible due to time constraints and campus policies. Feedback on the interactive parking map integration was that it would not have too much impact on bikers finding storage. A modular bike storage was the best option as it was a new idea and feasible within our time frame.
Increase amount of storage on an as-needed basis
Inform bikers where there are available spaces
Help bikers plan out their commutes better
There were multiple ways to design the system. We needed to make sure that the new design would not have a high learning curve and was more efficient than how bikers currently lock their bikes. We followed these guidelines when designing.
Display availability of bike racks: users should be able to search and find available spots
Security: users should be notified if someone is tampering with the lock
Location: users should be able to see where they locked their bike so they don't have to constantly memorize the location
Physical locking system
Easy and quick to use: the lock must allow bikers to quickly secure their bikes
Hidden when not in use: physical components must not hinder pedestrian traffic
Interact with mobile app: must connect with app to know when there is a spot available
Sketching out ideas
Following these guidelines, I started sketching out ideas for the mobile app and physical device interaction.
Getting feedback quickly and early on
We made a low fidelity prototype to get user feedback. I designed the low fidelity mockups of the app in Sketch and prototyped it in Invision. I kept asking students bikers for feedback during our design iterations.
Originally, users could only lock their bike when they arrived at the rack. However, people wanted the ability to make reservations before heading to the location so that they know there is a spot for them at their destination. To make sure people do not overbook spots, I limited booking to only same day.
Originally, we had both list and map views. However, users preferred the map view so they can visually see where there were more available bike racks. In our refinement, the app contained only the map view.
We had the user book the times before selecting a location. However, through feedback and initial testing, users were more likely to select a location before indicating how long they needed to lock their bike for. I changed the flow so that users would be able to tap a location before entering the times needed.
Based on all the feedback received, I refined the user flow of a biker using the system. This connects both the mobile app and the physical locking system.
A closer look
Users will be able to see available spots at rack locations on a map view for now or for a later time. This allows them to better plan out their commute.
Reservation page allows users to specify the duration of time they want to lock their bike. To comply with parking standards, I limited the amount of parking time to 3 hours.
Users can see the location of their bike so they don't forget where their bike is. They can also see how much time they have left to keep track of the time locked. This allows more bikers to use the locks as needed.
Notification of tampering
Users will be notified if there is someone tampering with their bike. This gives them a sense of security.
GTPD mentioned that a majority of students don't register their bikes. As a result, it is hard to track down stolen bikes. With our system, users are required to entire a bike serial number that is sent to the GTPD database.
Physical Locking System Concept
The physical locking system is a concept we developed in order to accomodate the app. However, the app can be designed without the creation of physical system.
I created the palette using the Georgia Tech branding colors and then used variations of it.
I created different icon variations in my design exploration. Icons are used throughout this page.
Evaluating our prototype
We conducted user testing by giving participants tasks that represented the core functionality of the system. We measured completion time, number of errors, and task success. The System Usability Scale was used to measure the perceived usability of the individual parts and the system overall. We also discussed their experience using the product.
- Users were happy about the system's ease of use
- Users liked how the app seamlessly integrated with the smart rack and lock
- Users had a peace of mind knowing they would be notified if anything happened to their bike
- We should create a higher fidelity model of the rack and lock for future testing
- We need to account for different tamperings (i.e. a small animal vs. a thief)
This project took us from the beginning (identifying user needs) to the end (testing our prototype). Here are some of my thoughts about this process.
- Understand your target user group. We went from student commuters to student bikers and found new user needs because we kept interviewing and consulting users. Because of this, we were able to address a true user need.
- Low fidelity prototyping is important as designs will keep changing. We went through several iterations of the modular bike storage model before finally arriving at our final design. So creating low fidelity prototypes will decrease any sunk cost.
- Do not be afraid of "wild" ideas. Because our group had a general rule of no judgment, we were able to keep coming up with ideas to solve our problem.