Aalto was approached by a company to help them develop an electric boat. We were given an empty boat hull which was the only part designed. Our task was to develop concept for the inside part of the boat.
The work was done in two member teams and I was working with Theo Weckström. The work was divided evenly between us and we worked alongside each other with the same tasks. Towards the end of the course as things tend to get busy, we did tasks as they came to us in a way that whoever had the opportunity, completed the task (CAD, rendering, presentations and other visuals).
First we familiarized ourselves with the world of boats, since neither of us was a boat enthusiast. During our benchmarking we found out everything we could of electric boats and also the differences and limits they have when compared with their fuel engine counterparts.
The boat that our partner company had made had some limitations. It would travel at its hull speed, 5-6 knots. The hull's measurements were 6,11m x 2,05 with 0,4m draft. Hull material is glass fiber.
(The percentages I am referring to are from our secondary research.)
Naturally the first thing we did after benchmarking was to interview boaters. We found some people who had vast experience with electric boating and also sailing. We also did secondary research from material we found online, mainly the "Open Wave – tutkimus avoimen innovoinnin mahdollisuuksista venealalla" -research.
From our research we compressed our results into insights and divided them into four categories and themes that we saw were important in the world of boating.
The feelings surrounding nature, feeling and being in touch with the environment and relaxing were the top motives to boating according to our secondary research. All new and upcoming boat equipment and services need to be on par with these values. About 90% of boaters feel that environmental aspects and the ability to enjoy the scenery and the surroundings were an important value to them regarding their hobby.
"Boating is not the as driving a car, it is meditative and a way to connect with the nature. You don't need a reason to go out on a boat"
- A boating enthusiast
2. Social aspects
Motives surrounding boating included nature, unhurriedness and the time spent together with the family are important to go out on a boat. About 90% of boaters feel that boating is a social event often held together with family and friends. 36% of people are content with the noise-level of their boat or feel it is disruptive. From our interview it was obvious that the noise from the fuel motor and the vibrations along with it take a lot out of the connecting with nature -feeling and socializing. "Motor boating is not as close to feeling one with nature as sailing, the noise and the fumes disrupt the experience." - Sailing enthusiast
A boat should be fit to many use cases and conditions. About 80% felt that the boat should be able to deliver in various use scenarios. The possibility to experience the charm of speed was not important, more important were things like relaxing and enjoying nature with family. "Driving on the sea can feel dangerous if you have no experience, a sailing boat for example goes at a humane pace, that has its own values." - Sailor. "Boats with large motors are sold to people with driving experience based on cars, then you have to be the one scared for your life when they are driving around not caring about others. I don't understand what the hurry is when boating" - A boating enthusiast.
The easiness and worry free -feeling lower the bar to go boating. Electric boats do not require the same kind of skills and experience as driving a motorboat. Navigating is a big step when talking about fluent traversing on the sea, learning that takes time. 80% of boaters want a reliable and a safe boat, that requires little maintenance. An important use for a boat were day-trips in the nearby areas with family and friends. "If you can make boating easy, you should. Ease of mind is a good thing" - Sailor
Possible users & consumers
Ideation & Prototyping
Our main ideation for the concept happened first with paper models, and at some point we moved on to physical models. We printed out the hull and built all sorts of variations on top of it. These are just some of the most interesting ones.
We came up with this concept of a deck that rises above you. Key benefits of this are its multipurpose abilities. When the deck is down, it can be used for sunbathing. Under it comes a space where you can sit or lay down in the shadow. Under the deck there is space for a table that can be lowered to the level of the seats to transform the whole thing in to a bed. When you raise the deck, it becomes a roof on top of your head, perfect for sun protection. CAD work was done by both of us, the final renderings below are done by Theo.