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Timemaps, 2019
— Weeklong Design Challenge —

  • UX Strategy
    UX Research
    Design Thinking
    Logo Design
    Project Scoping
    User Journeys
  • Background

  • As part of a weeklong design challenge, I designed a digital experience for traveling through time. Rather than present a high fidelity design deliverable, the purpose of the challenge was to present my research and discovery process. The only constraints were four feature requirements, which are listed in the background section below.

  • Objective

  • Provide civilian time travelers with a consumer-friendly interface that the average person can use safely and effectively.

    Measures of Success

    Short Term

    • The majority of users find it easy and intuitive to navigate between time travel destinations and home.

    • Users no longer feel rushed on their trips by knowing how much time has elapsed and how much time is left.

    Long Term

    • Less than .5% of trips require an emergency rescue due to user error.

  • Background

  • Uber Interstellar, Inc. has perfected the core technology behind their time travel service powered by any modern mobile device, but in test simulations with civilian time travelers, we’ve seen that the technology needs a more consumer-friendly interface as the current hardware is too difficult for the average person to use safely and effectively. Some of the core requirements we’ve received from the company executives are:

    • A. view their past travel destinations history

    • B. view elapsed time spent in the past or future

    • C. ability to return to the present

    • D. set a new time destination

    We translated these core requirements into problem statements to understand how these requirements were meeting real user needs.

    To make time and space travel as inconspicuous as possible, we're limiting the interface to use features available on common mobile devices circa 2019. While we have the capability for AR interfaces, we'll limit this V1 to using a tablet/screen like experience with the standard gestures: tap, pinch-to-zoom, etc.


    To simplify the design and reduce the need to design edge cases, I made the following assumptions about the nature of the technology and service:

    Technology Assumptions

    • When you travel to the past, your body exists in two places on an atomic level. You can’t relive experiences, but you can observe them. It would work like Scrooge. This avoids problems like multi-universe, altering the course of history, deleting yourself, etc…

    • You can only travel to destinations when/where you were in the past. This avoids privacy issues. Travel to the future is unpredictable and cost-prohibitive.

    • The destination must be entered in terms of both time and space. If you were to travel back in time without setting a location, your body would arrive in a different and unpredictable location due to the earth's orbit. Teleportation is not possible (must travel to the past or future). Avoids security/privacy issues. Users return to their place and time of origin after the allotted time for their trip.

    • Time spent in another era equals time spent in the present.

    • If the mobile device runs out of battery or is turned off, the user is immediately returned to the present.

    Service Assumptions

    • Time travel is priced based on how far back or forward in time.

    • Time trips have preset durations (e.g. 30 min, 1 hr, 2 hrs). This prevents people from losing themselves in another era and simplifies pricing.

    • The operational costs associated with sending a traveler to another era are very high.

  • The Problem Space

  • A. Past travel

    Problem: Time travelers can't keep a record of when and where they've been.

    • Time travelers want to preserve the memory of their trips because time travel is expensive.

    • Time travel historians need to verify their travels when submitting historical facts to Wikipedia 2.0 because it would be cumbersome to provide verification using analog methods.

    • Time travelers don't have information about previous trips like how the price was calculated.

    • Time travelers don't have a clear method for filing complaints to customer service over specific trips.

    • Time travelers can get easily disoriented due to the intensity of the time travel experience. If they accidentally leave something (or someone!) behind in a different time, there no way for them to retrace their steps.

    B. Elapsed time

    Problem: Time travelers can't keep track of how long they have been in the past or future.

    • Time travelers want to keep tabs on the duration of their journey because pricing is based on duration. They need to know how much money they spent. They could end up stuck in the past or future if they don't have the funds for the return trip.

    • Time travelers need to see the elapsed time spent in the past or future because time spent in another era is equal to time spent out of the present. Time travelers need to know when to get back to the obligations of their daily lives.

    • Time travelers need to see the elapsed time spent in the past or future because visiting a different era for too long is harmful to their health.

    • Need to know where they should be at a given point in time within the context of an expensive 30-minute trip. Travelers will likely be going to more than one place during their journey. They will be precious about charting out their travel and they will base their itinerary off of the countdown clock.

    C. Return home

    Problem: Time travelers can't return to their time and place of origin.

    • Time travelers need to return to the present because space is no longer the only factor determining what you call home. People would not use the app if they cannot return home.

    • It’s really expensive to rescue time travelers who have gotten stuck on trips because they couldn’t remember precisely which date, time, and location they originated.

    • Time travelers may find themselves in an unsafe situation and need to quickly return home.

    D. New time destination

    Problem: Time travelers can't control when and where they are going.

    • Time travelers need to avoid certain places and times to protect themselves from the possibility of experiencing emotional and/or physical harm. The probability of ending up in a harmful place and time is too high to leave time travel up to chance.

    • Time travel is very resource-intensive. Currently, time travelers can only take round trips (I.e. jump to a destination and return to the present). This makes it prohibitively expensive for travelers who have multiple stops to make on their journey.

    • When travelers are taking a trip to experience a famous or historical event, they often overshoot or completely miss an event because modern-day records are not always accurate and the current controls are too specific and require an exact date, time and coordinates.

  • Requirements as User Stories

  • Image Thumbnail
  • Design Inspiration

  • UX Concepts

  • Image Thumbnail
  • A. Past travel

  • Past Travel
  • Past Travel
  • We preserve our memories with pictures. The app prompts you to take photos at significant moments, stores images with a timestamp, and nests the images within the travel history interface. Similar to the memories feature in Apple Photos, users can view slideshows of their travels. "Apple Photos shows you photos of important events, people, places, and dates even before you begin typing in the search bar."

    Choose time travel destinations based on time and location metadata stored to photos in your phone to relive those memories.

  • B. Elapsed time

  • Elapsed Time
  • Elapsed Time
  • Users can create an interval timer to link to their time travel itinerary. The timer will notify where you need to be at a given point in time to witness the event you want to experience.

  • C. Return home

  • Return Home
  • Push notifications when your journey is nearing completion. Voice command for immediate return. "Hey Siri, return home."

  • D. New time destination

  • New Time Destination
  • New Time Destination
  • Setting a destination is the starting point for the app. The UI will be a combination of a map and calendar. People are more accustomed to searching for locations, rather than times, within the paradigm of travel. The home screen will be a map like Google Maps. A familiar interface is needed to bridge the gap to unfamiliar experiences.

  • Freehand
  • Wireframe v01
  • Wireframe v02 Wireframe v03


  • Credits

    • Christopher Newman