Mapinhood is a product developed by iMerciv, a startup company in the assistive technology space aiming to revolutionize mobility needs for blind, deaf, and visually impaired populations.
The company has been building a pedestrian-oriented navigation system for personalized and barrier free travel through a gamification approach that incentivizes users to easily upload street-level data.
Jun 2018 -
The Problem with Most Navigation Apps
It's about the journey, not the destination!
Do you ever find yourself second-guessing the directions given to you on your navigation app? What about not being able to find the entrance of a building or wishing there was a better shortcut on foot?
Most navigation apps on the market are designed to accommodate vehicular transportation, which often overlooks street level features such as pathways, street evenness, obstacles, or amenities that could be useful for pedestrian navigation.
For individuals with mobility impairments, this becomes especially critical in Identifying hazards and risks. Designing a barrier-free, pedestrian-oriented navigation system is not only an accessibility goal; but an experience one.
Creating better routing systems that enable pedestrians to customize a trip to meet their needs can help contribute to healthier lifestyles by encouraging more active forms of transportation. It can also turn a trip from point A to point B into a series of fortuitous events.
Who knows more about their community than locals?
One of the most important goals of this project is incentivizing users to contribute useful data about street-level features they encounter. In order to do so, we had to make the process as simple and fun as possible to keep users engaged and motivated.
These main objectives can be described as follows:
Balancing real-world navigation with gamification elements
Obtaining accurate and high quality map data from users by preventing errors in mapping
Simplifying user interactions of core functions (i.e. tagging and uploading features)
The tagging button (center) allows users to easily and efficiently upload data to the map in just a few clicks
After selecting a tag, a prompt appears to allow users to edit the location of their pin or to change their selection
+ new skin
+ 354 pts
Gamification is Not a Game!
Integrating video game psychology for a navigation app
Our approach to motivating users to actively make contributions involved building a social and competitive landscape as well as implementing a reward system. We wanted users to enjoy the challenge and excitement from a game without distracting from its real-world functionality.
We accounted for this by allowing users to customize their public persona, level up their community influencer status, and redeem real rewards. Designing an experience that was game-like, but not to be mistaken for one was an important consideration in trying to avoid compromising the quality of data uploaded by users.
Designing for accessibility
While this navigation app is intended to be used by all types of users, a major objective of the UI/UX design is providing greater usability for individuals with vision impairments. These considerations were addressed by:
Using a bright and high contrast color palette suitable for different types of colorblindness
Giving users control over the size and appearance of text/ images
Making clickable features more distinguishable through raised and floating buttons
Simplifying the user interface by removing distracting and/or extraneous elements
Outcomes and Takeaways
Designing the user experience for a pedestrian navigation app was an exciting opportunity to learn about the different ways people travel and get to their destination. I set out to do this by observing and surveying people about their travel habits, obstacles, and experiences. My findings pointed out the need to make the activity of "traveling on foot" more personal and engaging with one's surroundings.
While the front-facing side of this app has made significant progress, there is still development work to be done to ensure it performs smoothly. On the bright side, this allows for more time to keep iterating and reflecting on my design choices made throughout the process.