University of North Texas students, guided by Professor Christina Wasson and highly acclaimed corporate anthropologist Dr. Brigitte Jordan of Nissan’s Research Center in Silicon Valley to find out how people use their cars.
The project entitled “The Social Life of the Car” involved observing participants during driving and conducting interviews with them about their use of cars.
Brigitte Jordan believes that the most significant contribution of the project may be the fact that student researchers collected data on how people actually drive, a topic of high significance for the design of the car of the future.
“Engineers, computer scientists and roboticists who work on designing these cars know a lot about the technical aspects of Human Machine Interaction, but they know almost nothing about the experience of drivers and passengers, though that is what they ultimately have to design for. For example, we found that drivers transform the ‘space’ around them by converting it into a ‘place’ that they own and are intimately familiar with. We also found that many of the familiar gestures of normal face-to-face interaction are modified in in-car communication, such that, for example, eye contact is indicated by a slight turn of the head but not actually carried out.”