A New Personal
Assistant for BMW

Like a Local 

In conversation with your car

Voice interaction is slowly making its debut in the automotive industry as it helps minimise the drivers ‘eyes-off-the-road’ time. With the TU Delft, I helped BMW explore this topic and conducted the user research for their personal assistant. An intelligent, digital character that responds to the prompt “Hey BMW”.

5 years ago, I started the free Like a Local city guide, to share my favourite local spots with the many tourists that visit Delft. Now, more than 150 places give away our free guide every day.

5 years ago, I started the free Like a Local city guide, to share my favourite local spots with the many tourists that visit Delft. Now, more than 150 places give away our free guide every day.

Role
UX Research
Voice Interface

BMW
Nora Broy, Sigrid van Veen

Research direction:
Suzanne Hiemstra, Peter Vink

Visual design
Branding
Digital

Together with:
Hannah Harmens

BMW-IPA-1a

Validating the key qualities of the system

By testing with various personal assistants and talking to linguistic experts, we identified the key qualities of the system. We prototyped these qualities and evaluated them during ten user tests focussed on light- and voice interaction.

In order to evaluate the system's personality, we used the PrEmo research tool, allowing us to measure the emotions of the participants during the user study.

Every six months, we team up with the local entrepreneurs of Delft to create Like a Local. For every edition, we shoot new pictures, adjust the copy and create custom illustrations.

Every six months, we team up with the local entrepreneurs of Delft to create Like a Local. For every edition, we shoot new pictures, adjust the copy and create custom illustrations.

BMW-IPA-3b
BMW-IPA-2

“I find it interesting that something very aloof and digital can be made physical via light and sound. Normally these systems are just somewhere, but now it really comes to life!”

BMW-IPA-5a

Natural activation

The insights from the research were translated into different interaction concepts throughout the vehicle. The user test, for example, showed us that drivers wanted to activate the system in a natural way, without the intervention of any buttons. We, therefore, decided that drivers can activate the system by “Hey BMW” and can personalise the activation word—for example to “Hey Joy”—to lend even greater personality to their assistant.

Over the years, Like a Local expanded into a platform that includes a city guide, an Instagram page and a website. So far, we guided more than 80K+ users through Delft and published 9 editions of our successful guide

Over the years, Like a Local expanded into a platform that includes a city guide, an Instagram page and a website. So far, we guided more than 80K+ users through Delft and published 9 editions of our successful guide

A Multimodality aproach

The second interaction concept was based on the key quality of ‘conversation’. The user test showed that drivers wanted to communicate with the personal assistant in a  natural way, using a combination of speech, gesture and eye movement. BMW sensors, therefore, enable multimodality cockpit interaction by registering the driver’s behaviour in multiple ways.

Over the years, Like a Local expanded into a platform that includes a city guide, an Instagram page and a website. So far, we guided more than 80K+ users through Delft and published 9 editions of our successful guide

Over the years, Like a Local expanded into a platform that includes a city guide, an Instagram page and a website. So far, we guided more than 80K+ users through Delft and published 9 editions of our successful guide

Adapting to the needs of the driver

The user test also showed that drivers wanted a smart system that actively adapts to their needs and wishes. The personal assistant, therefore, learns routines and habits and is able to apply them in the appropriate context. For instance, “Hey BMW, I want to relax” triggers a relaxation programme that turns the Ambilight to orange and adjusts the music, temperature and sunroof to the preferred settings of the driver.

Over the years, Like a Local expanded into a platform that includes a city guide, an Instagram page and a website. So far, we guided more than 80K+ users through Delft and published 9 editions of our successful guide

Over the years, Like a Local expanded into a platform that includes a city guide, an Instagram page and a website. So far, we guided more than 80K+ users through Delft and published 9 editions of our successful guide

BMW-IPA-8
BMW-IPA-6

Worldwide impact

BMW Group adopted our proposal for their system and after 2 years of end-development, the Intelligent Personal Assistant is now available in 23 languages and markets worldwide.

Every six months, we team up with the local entrepreneurs of Delft to create Like a Local. For every edition, we shoot new pictures, adjust the copy and create custom illustrations.

Every six months, we team up with the local entrepreneurs of Delft to create Like a Local. For every edition, we shoot new pictures, adjust the copy and create custom illustrations.

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