Paper Prototype - Navdy HUD

Heads Up Display (HUD)


Project Type
Paper Prototype

Target Users
Automotive Drivers




The Ask

  1. Choose an interface
  2. Create a paper prototype of it
  3. Create a video of yourself using it with at least three (3) screens and at least three (3) interactive elements

The Research Process

Get out of the house/office - I went to the LA Auto Show at the Los Angeles Convention Center to play and demo the actual Navdy product in-person. Actually interacting with the device is a game changing, unique experience that has to be done in vivo - there is little-to-no substitute. There is an innovative see-through display, steering wheel dial and button, and motion detector for waving motions that are best experienced through touch and feel.

Another bonus - I got to ask the sales people questions about the product itself and how it fares for people from a usability perspective. I got insights on what their key selling points were for the device and what their proposed workarounds were for possible issues with the product.

Be the customer - Navdy's website also has a lot of informative feature highlights and how-to videos for potential customers that I studied closely to better understand the task flows, interactions, and movement between screens. I found the flexibility between using wave gestures or the steering wheel dial has distinct differences in user flow between menu choices and selections.

The Design Process

Cut & Paste - I have lots of experience with creating with paper because I love crafts, paper cutting, and origami so thankfully I was already prepared with the proper tools (paper trimmer, precision X-acto knives, glue, tape, and paper of varying qualities).

I already had scraps of paper lying around and played with it until it became a box shape which I decided to use for the base. I found that making the folds and crisp creases for the base came naturally to me based on my previous experiences with origami.

Pop-Up Book - At first, I wasn't quite sure how I wanted to approach the screen design since a paper screen versus the actual see-through display of the Navdy device are entirely different mediums. Inspired by my love of pop-up books, I ultimately decided that using a pull tab to slide through the different screens through a frame would work best to showcase the back and forth movements that happen only horizontally when interacting with the limited wave gestures and dial.

"Where we're going, we don't need roads" - As I was putting the design together, I considered customizing it for a specific audience (my professor Darren Denenberg). But as I was deciding what numbers to display for the speedometer cluster screen (88 mph), I couldn't resist the chance to make it more fun. So I asked myself, what overall theme could fit best and tell a compelling story? It has to have a famous and instantly recognizable:

  • Vehicle that could benefit from a futuristic device like the Navdy
  • Quotes for the text messaging features, and
  • Catchy soundtrack to maximize the music features

And the rest, as they say, is history! Delorean or no Delorean, we all want to navigate somehow when we go Back to the Future!

The Challenges

Showcasing user flow and system status - The most challenging part was examining how the screens flowed between each other based on specific user selections sequentially. 

I needed to show not only the screen flow but how the interface was visibly showing the user where they were and what they were selecting. 

Filming - Filming the different interactions was difficult since I couldn't find my tripod so I had to film with one hand holding the camera while the other hand struggled to "slide" through the interaction screens on the paper prototype.

Lessons Learned

You never know until you try - I too easily dismissed the benefits and insights I could glean from creating a paper prototype. In this modern day and age, it seemed an outdated medium. It was wrong of me to think that in a typical design process, the default method of creating an electronic prototype on InVision or Axure would win out over making a tangible, physical paper prototype - the whole process was really illuminating for me.

Yes, it's a bit more time consuming but it was worth it!

Insightful - It exposed a lot of steps in the flow process that I missed before and forced me to take a step back to incorporate those early on before real, serious designs could take shape. I found myself really examining my own thought process for each step not only as the designer but as the user as well.

Physicality - Having a paper prototype exist in the real world, off-screen gives a better sense of how users would actually interact with the actual product since it too, lives in the real world (unlike typical mobile apps and websites). Making that match between a 3D draft and the final 3D product solidified the user's actual experience in my the mind much better than any 2D page or screen. Not only did I have to worry about how the user would prefer to see the screen and how it was placed on the body of the HUD itself but physical considerations came into play as well. How well balanced would the device could be, sizing, and understanding where a user would actually place the device inside their cars if their dashboards do not have a flat surface.