Duration: Ongoing since Jan 2016
Team: Catherine Shen, Kate Mclean, Saumya Kharbanda
Symbiosis through CUI in smart ambulances -
Work in progress


Designing a conversational user interface (CUI) and service system for a Smart ambulance that augment the experience for Emergency Medical Technicians.


We are designing for trust and comfort that foster a symbiotic relationship, facilitating multi-modal conversations in a Smart ambulance. We also plan to integrate technological advancements to extend CUI beyond its current state and design a seamless service system.

We conducted research with engineers working on autonomous cars, first responders, doctors and patients. Initially we planned to focus on the patient care in the back of the ambulance but our research led us to the conclusion that there are lots of control and communication issues in the front of the ambulance. CUI can ease the stress in the front of the ambulance so that the paramedic in the back can focus on patient care.




Phase 1: Defining the territory


Initially we were interested in the role of trust in autonomous cars. Our question was - "How might we use Conversational User Interfaces to make people feel comfortable in a driverless car". We considered opportunities, values and concerns and derived 3 key ideas -

1. Design for emotions and trust that foster specific kinds of symbiotic relationships

2. Environments as systems

3. Integration with other technological advancements to extend CUI beyond voice integration and natural language processing.

Phase 1: Discovery and Exploratory research


We decided to narrow our scope to a specific use case for autonomous vehicles - ambulances. In our resarch, we found that the paramedic in the back of the ambulance and in the front are under immense stress and are almost always multitasking. Out question became more specific - "How can we help EMS providers focus on patient care and be more efficient." We felt that human-computer symbiosis through CUI would be very beneficial.

Phase 3: Generative research


We spoke with more EMS professionals about their current tasks, problems and limitations. This and an analysis of the front of the ambulance led us to believe that there are tremendous opportunities in designing the interface between the human driver and the ambulance even today. Research shows that while autonomous ambulances will be a future development there is a lot that could be improved through more thoughtful design even today. We stepped back from the idea of autonomous ambulances to Smart ambulances.

Phase 4: Prototyping and validating


We're currently in the process of creating quick prototypes to test out our ideas with the target audience and also explore building an ecosystem with multiple devices.

© 2020 by Shruti Aditya Chowdhury