BMW-Mini Ambient Storytelling

A lifelogging experience to enhance the driver experience.

📑 read the research paper >

What is it?

The Ambient Storytelling Project, a collaboration between the Mobile and Environmental Media Lab and BMW research, was a project to harness the ambient data from the MINI car platform and use it in a meaningful way to enhance the driver experience. The concept we pitched involved a lifelogging system: the car would remember the places you've been, link it with personal data, such as photographs, social media updates, etc. By connecting this data from the car and personal life, we'd interweave the car and personal experiences to they would be one. We presented this design idea in book form, and BMW was interested in moving to the next phase.

They were very interested in developing a real-life prototype, so we created a prototype on the iPhone and a BMW Mini Clubman that implemented many of the ideas we proposed.

What I did

Role: Designer and Researcher

  • UX and UI Design
  • Research
  • Storytelling

Very much a collaboration between industry and academia, the team consisted of a number of graduate students (including myself), spanning from engineer- to design- focused, an overseeing professor in the lab, Scott Fisher, and some BMW research staff.

Project Details


The initial document proposal was created in 2011, and prototype development continued to 2012.

Tools Used

  • Adobe Suite
  • Xcode
  • A Mini Clubman

Design and Implementation

My work was focused on design and storytelling on the project, developing UI and UX prototypes (more to demonstrate function rather than explicit usability) and overseeing development of experience storyboards.

iPhone mockups showing homepage, records, and achievements, achieved through the app.

Mock-ups showing how a car's profile may advance over time. Left being a new car and the right being a more experienced one.


While the UI and UX prototypes spoke to the functionality, we turned to storyboarding and comic panels to communicate the emotional aspects of the experience. These two comic pages show how data can be stored and passed on from one driver (parents) to the other (children).