Understanding in-car technology for traffic congestions (i.e., waiting periods) is an unexploited research topic within Human-Computer Interaction. According to the report on global traffic by GPS manufacturer TomTom car commuters around the world are stuck in traffic for an average of eight working days a year. Despite its higher costs, stressful traffic congestions as well as campaigns towards public transport, solo driving is still the number one commenting choice.

In order to design for  car commuters, it is important to better understand the context and needs of such commuters. Therefore, we  conducted a Contextual Inquiry (CI), using video, audio recording, and GPS tracking . Our aim was to get a deeper understanding of how 13 private short-distance car commuters spend their time and what technologies they use in their cars to and from work.  We define PSD commuters as drivers who use their private car to and from work. In comparison to long to long or medium-distance travelers, who drive more than 50 km (one-way, door-to-door distance) PSD car commuters drive up to 20 kilometers (one-way) or more than 60 minutes alone in the car.

Results show that most PSD car commuters had chosen a more relaxed and comfortable alternative instead of the fastest route, as well as took advantage of short waiting periods for collaborative activities. Furthermore, we could identify three social incentives that may inform future co-located gamification design by offering the opportunity to decrease the CO2 emission, as well as to achieve eco-safe-driving while solo-commuting: (1) a competitive playful approach with the value to form a social group that shares similar interests, (2) an indirect playful approach with the value to integrate the intermediated driving community into the game, and (3) an assistant playful approach with two different cars.

Nicole Perterer presented the topic at the 9th Nordic Conference on Human-Computer Interaction which was hosted from October 23rd – 27th, in Gothenburg, Sweden.

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