Speculative Future Mobility Workshop at HfG Schwäbisch Gmünd

    We hosted a speculative design workshop at the University of Applied Sciences in Schwäbisch Gmünd held by J. Paul Neeley. The organization, results and discussions were a great success and ask for a second edition!

    $ [2015-04-06] - Status: finished

    We successfully initiated a workshop at the HfG Schwäbisch Gmünd in the summer term of 2015. In cooperation with Prof. Marc Guntow and Vera Angstenberger we worked out a concept, integrating our workshop into the curriculum of the study program.

    Twelve Communication Planning and Design (MA) master students had the opportunity to work on a speculative design topic on mobility. The time frame of the workshop was set for one week in April. It would end with the presentation of the results to our representatives at moovel in Leinfelden.

    As we wanted to have maximum diversity on this course, we decided to bring in an external host to the workshop. This would add a third standpoint, in addition to the perspectives of the HfG students and ourselves. The perfect candidate turned out to be J. Paul Neeley. J. Paul is currently teaching Service Design at the Royal College of Art in London and is normally busy running his own startup named YossarianLives.

    Impressions from the workshop ...

    ... and the final presentation at moovel. Thanks to Jonas Heiligeist for providing these nice images.

    Together with J. Paul we created an open brief around speculative future scenarios of mobility. Since it can be very tricky to dive right into a specific topic, we provided a catalog of startpoint questions. This was to give some hints to gently kickstart the imaginations of the participants.

    The students then started to research, evaluate ideas and in the end focused on one idea to work out their concept. During this process J. Paul, Benedikt, Tilman and Raphael joined the course to provide instant feedback and discussion. These conversations proved to be very valuable and interesting. They also helped the students to better understand the intentions of the workshop. And this also gave us the chance to give some ideas small nudges, to reach some rather uncharted territories of future mobility.

    Mobility Future Speculative — The Brief

    We find ourselves in an exciting Human mobility moment. From technical innovations like self-driving & electric cars, real-time mapping & sensing, to radical system logistics improvements, big data, crowdsourcing, Uber, and car & bike sharing, the future of mobility is wide open and the possibilities rapidly evolving.

    In this workshop Students will explore new roles, contexts and approaches for design in relation to the social, cultural and ethical implications of emerging and future mobility technologies. The goal is to showcase various mobility futures and to inspire debate about their human consequences — both positive and negative; we will design for “the complex, troubled people we are, rather than the easily satisfied consumers and users we are supposed to be.”

    Project outcomes can be expressed through a variety of media, chosen by the students— these might include prototypes, mockups, simulations, video and photography of future apps, products, or services, with a focus on their human impacts. These will be documented and presented to HfG & moovel lab teams on the workshop's final day.

    Considerations

    • Mobility, defined as: the ability to move or be moved freely and easily.
    • What are emerging & future mobility technologies? How will these impact on human mobility?
    • How is re-routing handled? How often does it happen?
    • How are faults communicated? How are systems fault tolerant, how do they mitigate risk?
    • What are the accidents of the future? Who is responsible & accountable?
    • What are the future trade-offs between speed vs cost vs experience?
    • How does infrastructure ownership evolve? Personal vs state or corporate ownership of mobility?
    • How will the human motivations behind mobility be different in the future?
    • What is a wasted journey? An ideal journey? What else are we doing while we travel? Road Trips? What is the value of the journey?
    • How are the limits of mobility defined? What is 'good' mobility?
    • What actually needs to travel? How will luggage change in the future? How much mobility can be planned in advance? What are the planning horizons?
    • Future Traffic? Traffic's impact on the quality of life of the non-mobile?
    • What problems will people face in future mobility?
    • Mobility for all? Mobility for only the elite? Opting out of the public system? From Post to UPS.

    Outcome

    We were very happy with the results and the great effort all participants put into this workshop. It was a real treat for us to collaborate with J. Paul, the students and the HfG Schwäbisch Gmünd! Additionally we gained a lot of experience in implementing a workshop in an academic environment.

    It also proved to us that the diverse perspectives of people with different backgrounds and experiences are extremely valuable. Especially during the final presentation, when we often had unexpected but amazing revelations. The project definitely extended our views on mobility and brought new ideas to our team. Many thanks for that!

    We are currently following up various projects in cooperation with individual students. Which again emphasises how inspired and happy we were with this workshop. We will share these results on our blog, so keep an eye open for more info on that!

    Students

    (credits: SG1, Costantina Di Leo;
    SG1, Carolin Feldmann;
    SG1, Christian Kremer;
    SG1, Susanne Purucker;
    SG1, Fabian Rauch;
    SG1, Stephanie Rohrmüller;
    SG1, Sammy Schuckert;
    SG2, Mathias Beeh;
    SG2, Sandra Holbeck;
    SG2, Joahnnes Preibisch;
    SG2, Nadja Slave;
    SG2, Florian Staib;)


    Thanks to Jonas Heiligeist for providing the pictures of the final presentation.

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