Sammy | U-Haul

Smart U-Haul assistant streamlines moves, empowering customers for accessibility and satisfaction.

Timeline

6 weeks (Fall 2023)

tools

Figma

Voiceflow

After Effects

Premiere Pro

my roles

Research

Motion Design

Conversation Design

Prototyping

Video Editing

collaborators

Yawen Yang

Xiaoyong Yu

Kimberly Blacutt

OVERVIEW
Sammy, a smart conversational assistant for U-Haul, is designed to make the tedious moving process more manageable for customers. With Sammy's assistance, users can easily make reservations, adjust them as needed, and coordinate with moving helpers. Sammy also offers equipment tutorials, driving tips, and alerts to ensure a safe & smooth moving experience. By empowering users who may be unable or hesitant to move independently, Sammy increases service accessibility and customer satisfaction.

OBJECTIVES

How can U-Haul use a CUI to facilitate and aid the most stressful moments of the moving process?

OVERVIEW
Sammy, a smart conversational assistant for U-Haul, is designed to make the tedious moving process more manageable for customers. With Sammy's assistance, users can easily make reservations, adjust them as needed, and coordinate with moving helpers. Sammy also offers equipment tutorials, driving tips, and alerts to ensure a safe & smooth moving experience. By empowering users who may be unable or hesitant to move independently, Sammy increases service accessibility and customer satisfaction.

OBJECTIVES

How can U-Haul use a CUI to facilitate and aid the most stressful moments of the moving process?

concept video
key moments
Sammy is an agent to smooth the whole moving journey

We have designed for an experience that prioritizes task optimization, customer-helper synergy, and immediate information access. Sammy epitomizes an intelligent agent, facilitating multitasking through hands-free dialogue for movers.

Before the Move

Scenario 1
Book the right service effortlessly
Tedious booking steps

Scenario 2
Make alteration easily
Repetitive steps to rebook

Scenario 3
Smooth connection between customer & third-party helpers
Inefficient communication & collaboration

During the Move

Scenario 1
Time management for organized
multi-tasking
Stressful multi-tasking

Scenario 2
Make driving safe
Unfamiliar with vehicle operation

Scenario 3
Accompany driving
Stressful driving experience

DESIGN FOR CONVERSATION
Sammy's tone is personable, reliable and energized

The roles and value of Sammy is designed as personable for customized needs, reliable for supporting possible chaotic multi-tasking scenarios, and energized for providing mental support.

Personable: Personal Helper

Reliable: Amid Chaos

Energized: Uplift for Stress

Reserving Truck
Updating Infor
Helper integration
loading
Driving truck
Returning truck
motion states for Sammy
Sammy’s greeting is active, bright, playful, and friendly

Different motion states for Sammy are designed communicate the different states of Sammy to an audience and to visualize responses to a user's input.

key moments
Creating embodied experience to facilitate spatial narratives

Dimono has two parts - a "participatory museum experience" to transform distant historical facts into engaging and relatable narratives for Gen Z, and "path collector" as a tangible reminder of their journey to encourage reflection and revisit to reinforce the delivery of museum's message to their audience.

Mapping Out the Experience

Key Interactions

01 Embodiment

The visitors can choose a dinosaur active in Triassic period they are most resonated to and mimic their posture to start their journey. We let the visitors to become dinosaur to know about dinosaur.

02 Onboarding

The visitors receive their headsets and path collector, going through onboarding to understand the basic interaction.

03 Interact with Paintings

Approaching and lingering at a painting for over 2.5 seconds activates an informative display. Information appears in the head-up display.

04 Transition

When entering new period of time, visitors will be stopped by virtual boundary. It will introduce how the previous period end and what dinosaur they evolved into to acknowledge their progress.

05 Interact with Fossils

When interacting with the fossils, visitors can appreciate the authentic dinosaur and the information and stories spatially together by using guided hand gestures. This is the fundamental interaction for all the fossils in the exhibition.

06 Path Collector

Each fossil display is paired with an incubator. Visitors use the collector to trigger the interaction and collect unique features of their dinosaur fellows. This creates a personalized path through the exhibit.

07 Talk with Iconic Dinosaurs

In addition to the basic interaction, the iconic dinosaurs like t-rex and Dippy will be brought to life and talk to the visitor proactively. Their mood depends on the relationship between them and the dinosaur the visitor is embodying. The storytelling is designed to inspire the resilience of life with museum’s core value.

08 Talk with Iconic Dinosaurs

when visitors leave the exhibit, they can retrieve their experience by scanning unique marks on their collector.These marks represent the diverse features of the dinosaurs they encountered, creating a lasting memory of their journey.

feasible prototypes
How to assess the utility of multi-sensory interactions?

We used laser cutter and 3D printer to create the physical path collector and incubator. We also used Unity and Meta Quest 3 to create workable MR prototypes for testing and iterating.

Path Collector and Incubator Prototypes

Unity Prototype

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A glimpse of the process
understanding the client
The misson of CMNH (Carnegie Museum of Nature History)

Our client, CMNH, is committed to deepening the understanding of our natural world, to foster a sense of collective responsibility for our future. We’re focusing on their Dinosaur in Their Times exhibition, known for its famous holotypes specimens & reconstruction of the dinosaur habitats.

Why Dinosaur in their Time?

Target audience
Why we are focusing on Gen Z visitors?

Our target audience, Gen Z visitors, whom the museum is currently struggling to retain. They were observed to often just pass through the exhibit and marvel at the wonders. We also conducted one-on-one interviews to understand their needs and values.

According to ...

Gen Z visitors are characterized by shorter attention span and high digital literacy supported.

It may be more challenging for them to stay focused on traditional, less interactive museum, potentially impacting their ability to retain information presented in these formats.

Value Mapping

The Gen Z are actually very interested in dinosaurs. They grew up with Jurassic parks. The dinosaur stories often impress them a lot once explained or revealed

Interview Synthesis

However, the rich stories within the exhibition are not reaching Gen Z visitors. The static displays don’t quite capture their fleeting interests, leading them miss the chance for deeper engagement in the exhibition narratives.

Understanding the space
How is the spatial narratives currently used?

We discovered that the designed route is chronological, the earliest dinosaurs are shown first and follow the path of evolution. However, the curations of the spatial narratives of evolution are often neglected due to the scattered and overwhelming information.

challenge & opportunity
How can a new design help?

By incorporating XR interactions and augmented reality, we aim to spark curiosity and enhance learning through immersive storytelling. Our goal is to convert passing interests into sustained engagement ultimately envisioning CMNH as an interactive, participatory museum.

A GLIMPSE OF THE PROCESS
why design for moving
Moving is stressful and closely tied to significant life changes

Is moving a headache for you? We feel overwhelmed by the planning process. We struggle with loading and packing. We have trouble with moving logistics and coordination. What's more, it’s something so many people are doing all the time.

33%
of people in their 20s move in a given year

17-20 Million
people may move this summer

11
average number of times a person moves in a lifetime

1 out of 5
people move every year

why design for u-haul
U-Haul's core customers are do-it-yourself movers

U-Haul is one of the biggest transportation and storage solution company in North America. Their movers, mostly do-it-yourselfers are those embarking on this moving journey, who is bound to encounter moments of stress.

75%
of movers are “do-it-yourselfers”

costs 50% less
than full service moving solutions

127,000
number of trailers in U-Haul’s fleet

176,000
number of trucks in U-Haul’s fleet

UNDERSTANDING THE CLIENT AND THEIR APPLICATIONS
U-Haul's design opportunities are plentiful

We conducted primary research on U-Haul's exiting service. Their service is comprehensive but overwhelming. Therefore, we did an interface audit on their U-Haul website & app and ecosystem analysis to learn and find insights into the current user flow. We discovered that:

Interface Audit

The navigation is rather overwhelming. We observed chaotic information architecture, wordy & confusing description and repetitive but hard-to-find access towards instructions.

Ecosystem Analysis

U-Haul's service is very comprehensive. However, it also makes the customers lost in the searching. What's more, the connection between customers with adding-on service like Moving Helper is very loose and unguided.

user interview
Interviews as key to informing opportunities for design

Through 8 + one-on-one user interviews and online research, we found common themes in grievances and complaints.

Interview Samples

Qualified Interviewees
21+ Years Old Do-It-Yourself Movers

What We Heard
What We Learned
What This Means for Design

"I'm afraid of driving a big truck. There is no rear mirror!"
"We were all not familiar with trucks and the interior and accidentally broke a handle."

Anxiety about driving trucks & misuse of equipment

Design for anxiety relief and instruction

"None of the records reflect the movers I ordered, no emails or text nor the website. Does this mean they are not booked and I need to book someone else?"

Challenges in accessing information & alternation

Design for accessible information in real-time

"The way U-haul helps me choose the truck isn't effective. The customer service makes me wait for hours."
"I had to cancel my reservation and rebook just to change the moving date."

Challenges in choosing the right service

Design for an agent could assist in choosing and altering order without redundant steps

"I tried to plan everything ahead but the moving day is still very stressful. Things always go wrong."

Reveal mental stress in multi-tasking

Design for schedule alerts and reminders for users

Insights

Reserving Truck
Updating Infor
Helper integration
loading
Driving truck
Returning truck
Conversational user interface
We see CUI as a possible solution

CUI can improve user experience, streamlined interactions, accessibility, and task automation for enhanced efficiency.

Storyboard 1.0

Speculating how CUI assistant would improve the situations

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Design principles
We design our system according to...

To address our research question in our design, we followed these four design principles:

system diagram
How are we using the technologies?

This system blends various technologies such as digital projection mapping, Mixed Reality (MR) interactions, and natural language processing.

Digital Projections Mapping

XR Interactions

Nature Language Processing(NLP)

Visual system
Have you dreamed about being a dinosaur in their times?

To seamlessly guide our visitors, we created an integrated visual system.

Branding

Spatial UI for an intuitive, low-learning curve user experience

01 Information Panel

Visitors initiate interaction with gaze control which will trigger the info to appear within 2.5 seconds.

Eye Control

To interact with the fossil, hover over to reveal the info panel, pinch for more information, and grab to examine fossils closely. We designed the hierarchy to avoid info overload.

          Hover

          Pinch

            Grab

02 Navigation Bar

Navigation bar has three distinct stages. We designed it appear as eggs to relate to the ‘life’ topic. Pat to switch among three stages—default, unselected, and selected—to activate information panels and secondary selections.

             Pat

           Pinch

03 Conversational UI

Distinct dialogue bubbles for iconic dinosaurs and visitors for visual clarity. And pinch the hint bubbles for suggested conversation starter.

    Speak to Text

          Pinch

AR App Design

Sound in MR Space

When design the sound space in MR experience, we used the following principles:
Bring the users back to the dinosaurs’ time and environment with 3D spatial audio; Aural feedback to user’s interactions; Enhance the emotional and non-intrusive narrative events; Maintain immersion and consistency across platform.

Design focus
Establishing the scope of the project

We decided to focus the design to create an experience that prioritizes task optimization, customer-helper synergy, and immediate information access, ensuring a seamless and stress-free experience for all users.

Persona
Who will use Sammy?

We identify our core customer as the do-it-yourselfers who feel anxious and overwhelmed by the moving process. The Moving Helpers as the U-Haul contractors are our secondary users, providing professional accessibility service to those in need and getting extra income.

Sammy's values
Sammy is a ...

Based on our immersive research, we identified 3 main roles that Sammy acts as, which are guide, reminder, and cheerleader. The percentage of the 3 roles and personalities that Sammy exhibits when interacting with customers and moving helpers varies depending on the current scenario.

interaction design
How will Sammy be used?

More detailed storyboard & user journey map are created to refine the narrative, incorporating feedback, and enhancing visual storytelling to align better with the design focus.

Storyboard 2.0 & User journey

Overall

Detailed - Reservation

Detailed - Contacting Moving Helper

Defining Identity
Introducing Sammy

‘Sammy’ is the intelligent conversational assistant we design to integrate in the U-Haul app. The mechanism and system of Sammy is designed according to the design focus we generated based on our research.

Why "Sammy"?

U-Haul introduced it's first version of its "Sammy U" character in 1953, named after the company's founder.

How should Sammy look?

Style Identification
The visual design is informed by U-Haul’s brand. It takes cues from U-Haul’s boxy, yet rounded equipment and incorporates core values like reliability and stability into its tone.

Final Form
Our final visual design began with a more abstract representation of a box and landed at a more literal design that felt more on-brand with U-Haul. The idea of an active opened box speaks to the core user experience for U-Haul service.

Motion Design
Curated visual cues and motion states, fostering more natural and engaging tech interactions. Sammy's varied motions add personality and clarify messages to users.

interface Design
Integrating Sammy to UI

Our emphasis was on ensuring optimal reading legibility specifically tailored for mobile users, maintaining alignment with U-Haul's brand identity throughout the design system.

Branding

We developed a UI design system that incorporates U-Haul's branding elements, encompassing a cohesive color palette, information cards, icons, and buttons.

Redesign Homepage

The app's design features two distinct user paths: one for users with upcoming orders and one for starting brand new orders.

CUI Pattern

When a user starts a conversation, a compact pop-up screen captures and exhibits the inquiry, preventing abrupt transitions to new pages. This pop-up then expands to a mid-height page, showcasing all dialogues, arranged from the bottom upward.

GUI Overview

Here are the final interfaces for the redesigned U-Haul app. These screens cover the customers' pre-moving experience, Moving Helper collaboration & moving day (driving) experience.

XR Prototype
Studying XR interactions during a museum visit

We tested UI components using paper prototypes to fast iterate the positions and angles of UI components. And then we built a digital demo with Unity. The design of path collector and incubator keep iterating when we updated spatial UI component.

Paper Prototypes
The rapid prototyping helped us test the spatial postion and angle of the UI components.

Unity Prototypes
Unity demo helped us test the scale and position of Egg UI in spatial space; Test the “pat”  and “distance grab” gesture usability; Test the usability of interaction with skeleton and user flow.

Physical Prototypes

The path collector and the incubator are the key to enter the AR interactions. They should not only act as a working prop but also an attractive piece of designed product.

XR Component arrangement
Generating optimal XR component arrangement  

The arrangement of UX components aims to minimize visual disruption and easy and ergonomic reaching.

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impact
What can Dimono bring?

To transform the natural history museum journey for Gen Z visitors, empowering them with knowledge that bridges the past and present, inspiring stewardship for our collective future.

meet our team!
Design that last
How will Sammy affect U-Haul ecosystem?

Our new design makes U-Haul’s services not only more efficient, but also more inclusive and accessible, which in turn supports more diverse users and aligns with the principle of social responsibility. An expanded customer base also supports the growth of the shared economy. What’s more, the feasibility of Sammy is high, leveraging existing new technology like generative AI, and GPT-4.

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