Lincoln Voice


Voice Interaction, motion design


Role: Design Lead

Market: Mainland China

Team: MING Labs China

Date: Jan 2021

Lincoln sought a partner experienced in Human-Machine Interface for their ambitious plan to introduce Voice AI technology across their car lines in China. They needed support in strategy, research, and UX/UI. MING Labs took the lead, assembling a team that worked collaboratively with Lincoln for a span of 9 months. The project encompassed competitor and user research, prototyping, and ultimately culminated in the production and implementation of the final HMI. MING Labs provided comprehensive support throughout the entire process, ensuring a successful integration of Voice AI technology into Lincoln's car lineup in China.

As the UX lead for the project, I played a pivotal role in collaborating with UX researchers and our motion design partners. My responsibilities encompassed conducting benchmark research, designing the voice assistant app, defining requirements for the voice assistant animations, and overseeing the final implementation.

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Discovery phase

Following the classic double diamond design thinking process, the project commenced with the discovery phase. Collaborating closely with researchers, the primary objective was to establish a preliminary direction and scope for the personal assistant design. Extensive research efforts were centered around competitor benchmarking, conducting user interviews, and facilitating internal stakeholder workshops. These activities aimed to gather valuable insights and perspectives from various sources, enabling the team to gain a comprehensive understanding of the project landscape and identify key requirements and opportunities. The research outcomes served as a foundation for subsequent design activities, guiding the team towards the best possible solution for the personal assistant design.

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Defining the personality traits and visual style of the virtual assistant with stakeholder workshop.

Lincoln VPA

Mapping out the scenarios

To ensure a comprehensive understanding of the voice assistant SDK from Baidu, the team embarked on mapping out storyboards for each key feature. This exercise helped identify the features, use scenarios, and limitations of the SDK. Based on this knowledge, the team made informed decisions regarding the UX and UI design. Recognizing the importance of frequently used features, special virtual assistant animations were designed to enhance user interactions and create a more engaging experience.

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Virtual Assistant Concept

At the same time, we were working closely with our motion design partners on the visual concept of the virtual assistant. We provided as many as 7 static concepts for internal and external review and selection. Finally, the concepts was narrowed down to 2, Star Obelisk, and Luna - developed by Ford in-house studio. Eventually, Luna was selected as the final concept.

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Voice assistant app UI

The voice assistant app UI was meticulously designed to accommodate all features and scenarios. This involved creating screens for two different screen sizes and utilizing two distinct UI design languages. Once the UI design was finalized, further efforts were dedicated to ensuring compatibility with three different color themes for each design language. This production process, spanning multiple iterations, required meticulous attention to detail and meticulous implementation to ensure a seamless and cohesive user experience across the different color themes.

Lincoln VPA
Lincoln VPA
Lincoln VPA

Implementation Support

This project posed a unique challenge as there were limited references available to guide us in implementing the animations. Since we couldn't rely on existing examples, we had to figure out the implementation process on our own. Complicating matters further were the hardware limitations, leading us to opt for PNG sequences instead of real-time rendering for the animations. To ensure the smoothest possible animation experience, we dedicated ourselves to carefully working out the logic and timing.

To address this challenge, I took the initiative to create a PNG sequence logic map for the tech team. This map provided a clear and structured guide, outlining the necessary steps and timing for each frame of the animation. By establishing this guideline, we could ensure a cohesive and smooth animation flow throughout the user experience.

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More works

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