The Kids App Project
In the past months, we at the HaCon Mobility Lab in Berlin have devoted ourselves to a new exciting project: A mobility app for children. We consulted studies, conducted interviews with parents and held workshops with the children. At this year's HAFAS User Conference, we presented our research results and a kids app prototype.
Children between the ages of 8 and 12 are digital natives and naturally mobile – in the technical sense with smartphones etc. and in getting from A to B by bus and train. Children use public transport on their way from school to their hobbies, to visit friends and to get home. Parents typically practice these routes and connections with their kids – but when a bus gets cancelled or a child hops onto the wrong train, children often don’t know what to do and are likely to feel uncomfortable with the situation. This is why we asked ourselves: Why not develop an app with less content but higher user value? An app that focuses on the target group and is tailored to the children’s needs? We let kids show us how they travel, which routes and means of transport they use and what difficulties they face, e.g. confusing stops, long waiting times, etc. We learned a lot in our interviews with the kids and their parents, for instance many children like to shape their mobility on their own and have fun instead of seeing it as routine. But: Children shouldn’t perceive their surroundings only by means of a smartphone. This is why our app intends to encourage kids to become increasingly more independent and grow up to be confident public transport users.
Connection Search and Routing
“I” in the center: All destinations are arranged surrounding the child – both in the view of favorites (left) and on the map (right). Start and destination are defined via simple drag and drop, without entering any addresses. Here, the young user is looking for the best way to school. The connection overview (left) is clearly structured and provides a simple summary of travel times and changes along the way.
Features on the Wish List
If the bus has been cancelled or the child gets lost and doesn’t know what to do, there is an always-visible button that sends his or her current position to the right person, whether mom, dad, grandma or neighbor (left). This emergency button was a feature that both parents and children explicitly had on their wish lists. Last but not least, in order to meet the young target group‘s wish for personalization, kids can create their own avatar in the app (right). It can be individually adapted according to one’s own imagination – this creates identification and allows the user a playful way to learn to use new functionalities.