How might we design the interaction with an intelligent personal assistant for BMW?


In conversation
with your car

Interfaces are gradually becoming invisible as we move into a world of zero UI. Especially in the automotive industry, where interactions via voice, gesture, and thought help minimise the 'eyes-off-the-road' time. Together with BMW, we explored this topic and developed a personal assistant (IPA) for their i-series that responds to the prompt "Hey BMW". BMW drivers and passengers will be joined by the assistant from March 2019.  

Client BMW Group
Team 5 TU Delft students for BMW

Role User research, design user-system interactions
​​​​​​​Available from March 2019 in 23 markets worldwide

Our research for BMW started by identifying the characteristics of the new personal assistant. By speaking to several linguistic and cognitive experts, as well as by testing with existing intelligent systems (e.g. Amazon Alexa) we were able to identify the key qualities for the system. 

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Based on these key qualities, we designed several voice and light interactions that were evaluated during two user tests. During the user tests, we measured feelings of pride, admiration, and satisfaction, as well as negative emotions like dissatisfaction and fear. We also evaluated the system's personality and tone of voice of the assistant in order to design an experience that, although partly invisible, still felt like BMW. 

Quote during user study:

"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!"

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After the user tests, the light interactions were improved and the tone of voice of the assistant updated. BMW Group adapted our proposal for their IPA and after 2 years of end-development, the Intelligent Personal Assistant will be available in 23 languages and markets from March 2019.