DIS2017 Workshop

Setting the Stage with Metaphors for Interaction – Researching Methodological Approaches for Interaction Design of Autonomous Vehicles

Development of autonomous vehicles is progressing. As automation levels increase, the roles of both the driver
and the vehicle are changing, meaning that they need to forge a new relationship to each other as the vehicle
gains more agency. We believe this requires approaches that address that relationship early in the design process. One such approach is choosing a metaphor as a guiding principle for the interaction to set the preconditions for the relationship. A metaphor is said to help communicate the system image to the user, so that they in turn can form an appropriate mental model of the system they are interacting with, as well as communicate the system image to the developers so that they are clear on which image they are trying to convey (5). In the domain of highly automated vehicles, there have been a few different suggestions for suitable metaphors, for example the “H-metaphor”, based on rider - horse interaction, the husband-metaphor, and the team player approach. However, there are few examples of the metaphors used in actual design projects. Therefor it is unclear what a metaphor can provide in terms of guidance to the design of the interaction.

Another approach is early evaluation of designs between system concept prototypes and the user. The aim of this one-day workshop is to explore the use of metaphors and evaluation though enactment in the design of human- vehicle interaction. This will be done through a short concept development process, where participants are asked to reflect on the process. Outcomes will be an evolved understanding of using the design approaches, as well as identifying research needs and interaction design ideas.

Call for participation

"With increasing automation of vehicles, the relationship between vehicle and human will transform. This one-day workshop explores two approaches to support this evolving relationship through interaction design, addressing it at an early stage in the design process. The workshop consists of an explorative concept generation and evaluation session using the two approaches; metaphors as a guiding principle and evaluation through enactment followed by critical reflection on both process and outcome.

Researchers and practitioners with interest in interaction design, social experiences with technology, autonomous technology, and transportation solutions are encouraged to attend. Attendees will hopefully gain an increased understanding of social interaction with highly automated products and engage with new methodology. We hope that the workshop will lead to new international collaborations on the topic. There is a limit of maximum 15 participants.
Those interested in attending should submit a short text suggesting a metaphor they consider relevant to address during the workshop. Previously proposed metaphors include imagining the vehicle-driver relationship as analogous to that between horse and rider, or as two players on the same team, but we welcome new metaphor suggestions. The text should include a description of the metaphor, a motivation of its relevance, and, if available, examples of how it has been used in the design of interactions previously. The text should also describe a short personal outlook on the challenges and opportunities of the interaction design of human vehicle interaction in the age of automation. 

The short submission should be sent by email to helena.stromberg@chalmers.se before 25th of April. Notification emails will be sent out by 28th April 2017.

Intended outcomes 

The intended outcomes of the workshop will be:
  • an evolved understanding of using the two design approaches. Both approaches represent one way of attacking the increased need for a uniting user-centred design strategy in a field very much dominated by rapid technological development. The workshop presents an opportunity to conclude the challenges and possibilities of using metaphors as guiding principles, and enactment as early evaluation, so that the approaches can be fine-tuned in order to improve their output and facilitate dissemination.
  • identified further research needs in the area of human – vehicle interaction, as well as human – automation interaction in a wider perspective
  • connecting researchers and practitioners in diverse fields, but with united interests, which can hopefully lead to new research and development collaborations that can further a human-centred view on automated vehicles
  • and, last but not least, one intended outcome are new and inspired interaction design ideas.


Helena Strömberg
Helena Strömberg is a postdoctoral researcher at the Division Design & Human Factors at Chalmers University at Technology. She studies the relationship between people and the artefacts they use in daily life, the effects they have on each other, and this relationship’s consequences for sustainable everyday mobility.

Ingrid Pettersson
Ingrid Pettersson is a user experience analyst at Volvo Cars as well as a Ph.D. candidate at Chalmers University of Technology in Sweden, working in the area of interaction design with focus on automotive user experiences. The goal is to develop new methods to support the creation of a positive in-vehicle user experience.

Wendy Ju
Wendy Ju is the Executive Director of Interaction Design Research at the Center for Design Research at Stanford University, and Associate Professor of Interaction Design in the MFA Program in Design at California College of the Arts in San Francisco. She received her PhD from Stanford and a Masters degree from the MIT Media Lab. She is the author of The Design of Implicit Interactions, available from Morgan and Claypool.

Nikolas Martelaro
Nikolas Martelaro​ is a PhD student in Mechanical Engineering at Stanford's Center for Design Research DesignX Group. His current work focuses on how computationally-aware physical products can elicit meaningful interactions with users and how these products can relay those experiences back to designers. His work has explored user experience in partially autonomous vehicles. He has developed the WoZ Way system to allow remote designer to virtually ride along with drivers and conduct contextual inquirys through the car. He has extensive background prototyping tangible, embedded interactive systems and has helped teach courses on rapid prototyping and interactive device development.

Published: Mon 20 Mar 2017. Modified: Wed 19 Apr 2017