What is it?
The Mazda companion app is a service that allows you to access remote features of your vehicle, check on the health of the various components, and view efficiency statistics.
Why is it important?
This application is significant in many ways and opens up useful possibilities not just for the car owner, but also for auto manufactures as well as insurance corporations.
This app gives the customer a better understanding of their vehicle. Not only can they use functions of the car remotely, but they can monitor how efficiently they drive, and find out how to save more money on their commute.
The app can benefit the auto manufacture by giving the company data on how their cars are being driven. Data like this can help a company target their demographic better, and thereby increase potential sales.
Insurance agencies would be more likely to insure a client with a better price if they understand that their customer is driving safely and in an environmentally conscience way.
With this app, I wanted to make features accessible. When making an application that works alongside a vehicle, the functions need to be easy to locate so that the customer isn’t struggling to find a button while walking towards their car. It shouldn’t take much more effort than simply producing one’s keys from their pocket.
Mapping a route.
Here is a map of all of the functions I wanted the app to accomplish. I created this so that when I sketched out some ideas, I would have something to consult instead of blindly adding features.
A rough track.
Above is a view of the sketches I made for this app. As you can see, I had a good idea where the various graphics and features would be located, and consequently made it easier for me to implement them in my prototype.
This companion app provides a lot of great features for the customer to enjoy. The first screen gives the user the ability to remotely access the functions of their car. In this example, not only could they unlock the car or start the engine from a distance, but they could also raise and lower the roof. This area could be context specific, where different vehicles would populate the table with different controls.
The second screen displays vehicle health information for the owner. The status of each vehicle component gives the owner a good idea when they should replace or repair certain features. This takes a lot of confusion and ambiguity about car maintenance out of the owner’s hands and keeps them informed about their vehicle’s health.
Statistics for everyone.
The third screen displays data from the user’s driving history. They can see how efficiently they have been driving at a glance. The design of this page loosely resembles video game statistics. This is to make the quest of efficiency more of a game for the owner, making them more likely to use the feature.
Insurance agencies may find the last two sections especially interesting. Since they will be more likely to insure people who are less likely to take advantage of the plan, they could give discounts to people who regularly maintain their vehicle and drive safely and efficiently.
Tapping on the grid icon next to the miles per gallon presents the user with more detailed information about their driving efficiency in a calendar format. Drilling in to a date provides information on the average efficiency as well as what times of day were more efficient and less efficient. Swiping to the right reveals a chart about the month’s efficiency as well as some trivia regarding the data.
A rainbow of color.
The app adapts its color scheme to the vehicle that you have registered. This gives some variety to the software, making it much more attractive to use.
What I learned.
Creating this app has taught me to be conscience about not just the customer, but other potential groups that would be interested in using an app. The idea of big data working behind the scenes of such a simple app tells me that applications today are not so much about new ideas, but more about making current ideas more fruitful and efficient for all parties involved.