I worked as part of a multi-disciplinary design team to re-imagine a smart fragrance experience for inside your vehicle. The end result was an experience that incorporated physical and digital products that prioritized simplicity and safety.
User Research, UI Design, Interaction Design
Pura has become a leader in the home fragrance industry by developing cutting-edge scent diffusion technology and by partnering with well-established fragrance companies. They provide safe and convenient fragrance diffusion for your home, but your home isn't the only personal space you may want to experience great fragrance. What about in your car?
Before working on any prototypes or even brainstorming solutions, we took time to try and understand how people use fragrance in their vehicles today. We tried to identify opportunities to beat competition in the market, as well as identify general user needs. Here are a few of the conclusions we came to:
Most fragrances we studied had either a wrapper or a lid that could be removed but not replaced. This meant once you opened your fragrance, it was on and there was no going back. You either had no fragrance, or all the fragrance, and no option for a scent experience in between those two.
From the Pura customers we surveyed, we found they spent an average of 1hr 15min, or about 5% of their day in their car. The problem with most car fragrances is they scent your car 100% of the time. That means most users are missing out on 95% of the fragrance experience they're paying for!
Our modern world is full of distractions. And driving is an activity where user distraction can have serious consequences. We identified this user need early on, and made it a priority to minimize distractions in our final design.
After getting a clear understanding of user needs, we began exploring solutions we could design into our product experience. We followed an iterative process, testing concepts with quick prototypes as often as possible. Over time, we gradually refined solutions for the user issues we identified during our user research.
Knowing that users would want to experience scent only while they were present in the vehicle, we explored the idea of building an automatic scenting experience into the diffuser. We wanted to make a set-it-and-forget-it experience. Utilizing the onboard accelerometer, the device automatically turns on when motion is detected, and turns itself off after sitting stationary for 5 minutes. We also included settings to allow users to adjust or disable this feature if needed.
Because safety was a major concern, we decided to make our in-app controls hyper-usable. If a user has to control their diffuser while in the vehicle, we wanted to make that experience as straightforward and simple as possible. We took inspiration from Spotify's Car Mode experience. During testing, we found users primarily opened the app to view scent remaining so we created a large graph that could be very easily seen and understood.
Integrating controls into systems the users are familiar with is a great way to increase usability. We explored the possibility of developing Apple CarPlay and Android Auto apps, but time and structure constraints were too great. Fortunately, we were able to instead add physical controls to the product (push button on top) so that users could easily adjust and control their diffuser without needing to open the app.
With all the features we were able to include, we created a very hands-free fragrance experience. Once users load their fragrance into the diffuser, it will start and stop automatically every time they drive. The app interface provides extra information about scent life, if needed. But most of the time users will be able to simply get in their car and enjoy great fragrance.