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Ask most people when they expect to be taken to work by an autonomous car and the answer’s likely to be, ‘not in my lifetime.’ That’s the consumer condition today. The established context is so firmly in place that radical change is beyond comprehension. The siren songs of what we know are familiar, safe, tangible. New music is harder to get into, and it takes some effort.

In the background, though, things are shifting. New business models are being put into place and new inventions are becoming innovations. The emerging forces in personal mobility have begun to collaborate in new and interesting ways. Now that communication and ambition are shared across competitors, this makes sense

Mobility principles

One such example is SHARED MOBILITY PRINCIPLES FOR LIVABLE CITIES. Robin Chase, of Zipcar fame, created this concept with some like-minded people, and have developed ten shared mobility principles. Briefly, they are:

  1. We plan cities and mobility together
  2. We prioritise people over vehicles
  3. We support the shared and efficient use of vehicles, lanes, curbs, and land
  4. We engage with stakeholders
  5. We promote equity
  6. We lead the transition towards a zero-emission future and renewable energy
  7. We support fair user fees across all modes
  8. We aim for public benefits via open data
  9. We work towards integration and seamless connectivity
  10. We support autonomous vehicles in dense urban areas operating only in shared fleets

Now, have a look at this page, (and image below) then ask the average driver how many of the service providers signed up to this pledge they’ve heard of. Chances are they won’t be able to tell you what most of the 33 brands here do.

Logos. autonomous vehicle logos

But there they are: working at building a business based around new mobility models, adopting technology as it becomes available, and selling to the market now. Selling, in fact, to early adopters who are already on the street, and converting more users simply by being there.

For more evidence that the shift is well underway, data from Crunchbase tell us that the biggest players in the ride-sharing economy are performing well:


  • H1’18 revenue: $5.4 billion.
  • H1’18 revenue growth from H1’17: 66.6 percent.
  • H1’18 net loss: $1.375 billion.
  • Net margin: -25.5 percent.


  • H1’18 revenue: $909 million.
  • H1’18 revenue growth from H1’17: 120.6 percent.
  • H1’18 net loss: $373 million.
  • Net margin: -41.4 percent.

This business isn’t being conjured out of fresh air: somebody is using the services. Break it down – $5.4bn is a lot of $10 rides.

Back to our average driver. The idea of sharing a ride is only alien to the people who don’t ride-share yet. And the idea of autonomous ride-sharing is only alien because…? You’ve got it. It might not be here yet, but it’s coming, and it will be adopted and grow and expand and eventually come to a high street/bus stop/car park/street corner in your town.

With the change in available modes of transport, the way that consumers buy everything else will shift too. Not owning a car won’t be the physical barrier to market access that it is today. Look down the timeline a couple of years, and these issues will have gone away, and not simply to be replaced by the virtual alternative of online shopping.

Personal mobility, community and relationships go hand-in-hand. The connection between how we move around, and how accessible the ability to move around is, has real impact on our society.

Electrification of vehicles

Electrification of vehicles is a done deal at the conceptual level. The thinking has been done and the logistics of production is the next step. Then comes autonomy. We’re still at the thinking stage of this transformation but, when the brains switch their attention from EVs to AVs, the pace will pick up. When it does and as we’ve seen here, the market infrastructure to distribute the autonomous technology is already in place, and the juggernaut is ready to roll.

Happily, if you’re in its way, it’ll know and will steer around you. But it won’t stop, and you may be left behind.

If your business is in ‘not in my lifetime’ mode, you have time to rethink. But not much.

Seeing it differently. Future-proofing. It’s what we do.

Imagine a motorsport scene without noise and the smell of burnt hydrocarbons – difficult, isn’t it? But racing is changing as fast as the rest of the motor industry, and Formula ‘E’ is already a reality. Will EV racing fizzle in a cloud of its own digital dust?

Electric racing cars have always seemed inevitable, and everything new seems like a great idea, until it isn’t. As a study in Design Thinking, electric vehicles (EVs) and their associated promotional activity make an interesting case.

The Design Thinking methodology puts consumers at the centre of the lifecycle equation and works back to the product. Look at the changes in motorsport from a consumer perspective, and you can see a huge opportunity for new suppliers and technological solutions. The major manufacturers are pushing their technology to be race competitive. And what starts on the track (think Fly-By-Wire and modern turbos) eventually appears in mainstream consumer production.

With EVs on the race track, the whole infrastructure of racing will have to shift to include an entirely new supply chain. Traditionally-fuelled cars and EVs will certainly exist side-by-side for a time, but ultimately EVs don’t need fuel, exhaust systems, filters and a multitude of other components demanded by the combustion engine.

Fire extinguishers for electrical fires are different to petrol and oil fires. Fire-resistant suits will need to change. Designers will need to rethink crumple zones in cars that house a battery instead of an engine. Every part of the driver interface could change.

The signs are already there. The Automotive Council published 11 roadmaps to show us how automotive technology will be developed over coming years, and we know that city infrastructures are being developed to accommodate driverless and autonomous vehicles. Have we joined the dots? Most of us probably never thought about just how soon EVs and driver aids would be a reality, even after recent government targets made the market for new petrol- and diesel-fuelled cars a short-lived proposition.

So where is the consumer in all this – the people that pay?

Unlike traditional F1, EVs don’t make any engine noise, so the most atmospheric element to a future race meet could be tyre noise and transmission whine. What will fans make of this? Will tyre tech be encouraged to generate a new sensory sensation? Playing cards in the spokes?

How about race meetings? To encourage viewing of EV races at their earliest stage, it’s likely they will be bolted onto existing events. Race meetings could become four-day affairs, with F1, GP3, and FE all on the same bill. This may appeal to fans, but it might not. If you love F1 and don’t mind the traffic chaos that an even bigger meeting will bring – no problem. If you are a GP3 fan and have enjoyed your own audience until now, without the extra glitz of F1, things are going to change.

The consumer justifies the advertising spend that pulls in sponsors. But the digital dust that drivers and other team members give off is being exploited remorselessly. Social media buzzes with the brand of watch drivers are seen in (Lewis Hamilton is brilliant at this), what bank they’re tied to, what fragrance they wear and what product holds their hair when they take off their helmets. The concentrated focus on pushing digital messages to consumers before, during and after a meeting almost makes it unnecessary for people to turn up at all. Take away the noise and the smell and sprinkle in a bit of VR, and perhaps they won’t need to.

Come over to and download our free guide to SEE YOU DATA DIFFERENTLY!

Working on your business is often pushed to the side in favour of working in it. Deciding to ignore the longer term is a phenomenon called hyperbolic discounting. It’s common and natural. room44 focuses on the medium and longer term. There are four core sources of data to look into. We begin with you. Read SEE YOUR DATA DIFFERENTLY to see how we do it.

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