As our mobility solutions evolved, our travel experiences became more isolated within the bubble of our vehicles. We go from one point to another with no other intention but to get to our destination. As we do we miss opportunities for new connections and engagement along the way. Our brief was to find a sustainable and feasible mobility solution for visitors and residents in remote areas where the main transport mode is the car.
During our research, we travelled along Road 363 in sparsely populated Northern Sweden. We discovered that many people travel without stopping or engaging with anything along the way. Locals also feel a loss of connection between the communities along the road. As visitors ourselves we also noticed a lack of information on what was around us. It therefore became important for us to not just go about addressing mobility as such, but also look at solutions building on the way people already live, while encouraging them to connect and engage in new ways.
We were also struck by the transition in pace between visitors and locals. We wanted to create an experience that allows people to travel at their own rhythm but also connect with the pace of others or nature. Our experience and connection to the space around us is affected by the speed at which we travel through it. We wanted to find a way of connecting people, with different motives, needs and paces with their surroundings.
Aura is an explorative experience that facilitates engagement opportunities for visitors and residents by raising awareness of the presence of people, local businesses and nature along the way.
Aura consists of two components: a device, placed in the car, and an application.
The local community can upload messages related to anything of interest for people living or moving along the road, through the application. These are then placed ‘along the road’ at different speed ranges, based on their content.
The device makes car travellers aware that there is something out there, with a light signal. If the light is static the message is accessible at the current speed and they can access the voice message immediately. If the light is blinking, the message sits in a lower speed range and they can choose to slow down to find out more. As they do, an ambiguous sound will increase in volume, giving a clue to what is out there, sparking their curiosity further. Once they have reached the speed range of the message they can access it, to learn more. If the travellers like what they hear, they can follow the information and create new connections they might otherwise never build.
Aura does not just provoke a behavioural change towards a more sustainable way of moving but also creates more empathy for the region. By raising awareness of the presence of people, local businesses and nature along the road, it supports and builds a more collaborative mindset and, therefore, a more fair and balanced development in rural areas.