The project started with a simple exercise. I asked a group of people to assume that they need to get to a destination without using their phone. They could only use a piece of paper and a pen. The results were quite different, some people took notes of the names of the streets, some made a sketch of the path and some decided to include both sketches and street names. The interesting observation was to see how people transfer the map into a minimal yet useful sketch.
The common theme in the participatory design session was that people value the big picture as much as the details that are relevant to them at a given time. The real estate of the mobile device screen is a limited making it hard to project the big picture on one screen. One of the explorations I did was to project the path on a curved surface and remove the irrelevant visual information.
Quick paper prototypes came handy for testing the ideas and soon it was obvious that there is an opportunity to take this prototype to the next level.
The current location and the distance left to the next turning point is the most important information a user needs at anytime. Pather is designed to highlight this part of the navigation by moving the focus to the current road and the next turning point. Additional information like nearly streets and landmarks are a tap away and can be added to the path as an overlay.
Each step in the navigation is scaled down proportionally so the whole path fits in one screen. The focus remains on the current road and the next turning point. It is possible to peek into the upcoming turning points. This model can help user have a better perception where they are and what they need to be prepared for in advanced.
Considering the 3D curve conversion of the path, I find stop-motion to be one of the best tools for Low-Fi prototyping and testing the concept. Spending some time in the workshop, I made a paper prototype and a bracket. I used the set up to capture a stop motion video at 8 frame per second.
A Flash prototype demonstrating the behavior of the concept
Another idea which was explored was the use of gestures. Users are able to tilt the phone up and down to move the navigation one step in either directions. Gestural control can be desirable in driving context.
Two different themes for the visual design were explored, one particularly designed for night mode.