eCar (2006)

Telefónica I+D (R&D) and SEAT joint initiative to integrate Information Technologies on the automobile using multimodal interfaces with a focus on security, communication and entertainment.


Automobile manufacturers were integrating navigation and entertainment systems on their vehicles, and Telefónica I+D (R&D) and SEAT joined efforts to investigate this area.

Security was particularly important, following EU directives to reduce road accident’s deaths through early-warning systems, and wireless communication (an important point for Telefónica) and in-car entertainment were secondary objectives.

photograph of a SEAT car's dashboard, featuring an onboard computer
eCar onboard system mounted on prototype

The result was a prototype which could trigger an emergency call in case of accident, delivering extra information wirelessly to the emergency center. The onboard system doubled as a communications and entertainment system, operated through multimodal (touch and voice) interfaces.

My work

Met with stakeholders and researched usability, particularly regarding onboard, touch and voice systems, which led me to design the touch interface for the eCar, including its Information Architecture.

Mind map showing the structure of the eCar application
Sitemap for eCar application

Simple wireframes were created with Powerpoint to illustrate the different screens, which were later implemented in the final prototype.

Wireframe for eCar's home screen, created with Illustrator using boxes, labels and a few icons
Wireframe for eCar’s home screen
Implementation of the previous wireframe in the final eCar system, looking pretty much the same but now with visual design applied
Implementation of eCar’s home screen (created by Telefónica I+D’s development team)

As a secondary result, a “Usability Guide for Onboard Systems” was created which recorded my research on usability in the subject, and was a reference for later teams working on onboard systems at Telefónica.

Sample page with several paragraphs related to voice interfaces in automobiles and their limitations
Fragment of Usability Guide for Onboard Systems

What I got

  • An introduction to Usability and Information Architecture.
  • Experience with onboard systems and touch and voice interfaces.
  • Met with Usability teams working at other branches of Telefónica.

Important achievements

After going through research and prototype stages the system was presented by Telefónica at Mobile World Congress 2009 under the name “TIC Box”.

Car's dashboard featuring an onboard computer
TIC Box presented at Mobile World Congress 2009