Assignment 5: Proposal
Our RSA brief asked us to identify a daily journey, either our own or other people’s, and investigate ways to improve it and make the experience better for many people. We were to think of the economic, social, or environmental issues people face during their journeys, and we were encouraged to address these issues. Although the brief was quite specific in that we were only to research daily journeys, it still allowed for a broad range of ideas – travel to college, university, work, and shops and services, by foot, bicycle, bus, train, and car. It also allowed a very wide range of ideas to be developed, as the solutions could be used to improve any area of the journey – the brief would accommodate redesigned vehicles or environments, activities or accessories to better use commuting time spent on public transport, and even advertising or communication campaigns to inform people about different types of travel.
Team 8, consisting of myself, Kristen Neillie, Kirstie Snowdon, Esther Farrell, and Steven Lee, began by brainstorming different daily journeys, focusing on modes of transport like walking, driving, and using public transport. We then brainstormed to find as many issues with these modes of transport as we could, and we found many. The main problem areas we found were issues with public transport, problems created by other people, environmental factors like adverse weather conditions, and problems with self-preparation.
Eventually we decided focus on the daily journey to work or university by car, and through brainstorming we chose to highlight and try to solve problems and issues associated with road rage.
We thought that road rage was an area not really acknowledged or brought into the public eye enough as a day-to-day problem. Although a lot of people look at road rage as being a minor problem, it can cause people to act very aggressively, drive dangerously, and it can sometimes be the cause of accidents. We thought this was an area that deserved investigation, and needed solutions.
Road rage occurs most in busy towns and cities or when a person’s stress levels are high, which fits in to the brief of investigating daily journeys and commutes. Statistics show that traffic jams, pot holes, and even weather conditions can cause us to become stressed and behave in ways which you wouldn’t do normally. In the US approximately 2,500 accidents a year are the direct cause of angry or aggressive drivers; studies have shown that as many as 50% of all road accidents could be attributed to road rage. This goes to show that road rage is a bigger problem than we might initially think, and that there is a need for more extensive research into the problem.
As a team we brainstormed again to come up with ideas for solutions to aid in dealing with road rage, and produced lots of ideas.
Moving away from our more abstract ideas (flying cars and Futurama-style mass transit tubes) we focussed on three more doable solutions that came up during our brainstorm – stress balls situated in the car, air conditioning perfumed with calming scents, and an in-car CCTV system to record your behaviour. We chose to develop these ideas over others because they are quite simple and inexpensive, but they could have a large impact on drivers’ moods and behaviours.
To better our understanding of the problems we were looking at, Esther and Kirstie investigated more into the psychology and statistics of road rage, Kristen investigated the use of stress balls to help relieve stress, Steven looked at aromatherapy, researching the effects of different scents on peoples’ moods, and I researched video recording and online communities for use in learning about and changing your behaviour.
Through development and peer feedback we made several adjustments to our original ideas. We realised that letting go of the steering wheel to use a stress ball, albeit with one hand, would be quite dangerous while driving, so we decided that our stress ball would have to fit on to the steering wheel so the driver could access it instantly. This could be a very cost-effective and fun way of tackling stress as it happens. We moved from using the car’s air conditioning to using a simple air freshener design, like many people use in their cars already, which again is cost-effective and simple.
We realised that having a dedicated in-car camera for recording the driver’s behaviour would be quite excessive, so we developed the idea to incorporate a smartphone with a front-facing camera, which many people may already have. The phone could be fixed to the dashboard using a plastic holder, making it easily accessible while driving, and our application could be opened with the press of just one button. We also discussed the app starting automatically when the driver becomes stressed, using some sort of heart monitor, or when loud noises or quick movements happen inside the car. We didn’t develop this idea much further, but the application could be started before the car is even in motion, to reduce any distractions whilst driving.
To sum up, we propose to produce a stress ball-like product that can fit onto the steering wheel of an automobile, so it can be used to provide stress relief while driving. We would also produce air fresheners scented with camomile, bergamot, sandalwood, and rosemary, which are found to be particularly calming on peoples’ moods.
Finally we propose to provide an online service and smartphone application to record and share videos, and connect with other users, to share and learn about their behaviours. The service could be moderated by psychologists who provide advice, and through prompts help the users to reflect on and learn from their behaviour.
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