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Ford - AI Personal Assistant

How we design a personalized AI assistant for improving the in-vehicle infotainment experience through speech recognition

While pioneered by Chinese manufacturers, Ford became the first global auto brand to launch a VPA(Virtual Personal Assistant), debuting it at 2021’s Shanghai Auto. Collaborating with the Ford HMI team and technology team, we have been helping them with the strategy and design of their in-vehicle infotainment system.
Adobe Premiere
26 Weeks
My Role
Project Management, User Research, Co-creation Workshop Facilitation, UX Diagram, Usability Testing



The digital experience was outdated and Ford wanted to improve brand differentiation

Ford is looking to build an AI assistant that enhances the driving experience, while also setting itself apart from competitors in the local market. The project requires collaboration across multiple teams, including Marketing, HMI, Engineering, etc. with a focus on aligning the new brand positioning and identity.


Based on previous Ford research, a robust hypothesis exists that there is a user-driven opportunity to build a virtual personal assistant working across Ford’s digital experiences.



Most of the characters act as voice-only ‘servants’

2021 is the year when the number of installed digital assistants is forecast to outnumber humans. But with most of the characters acting as voice-only ‘servants’ — an opportunity exists to build more engaging, brand-specific characters.

Opportunity zone: ioniconic abstraction that aligns with Ford's brand essence of pioneering innovation

Through a rigorous analysis of competitor VPA designs, we were able to identify three key categories of characters: abstract shapes, iconic faces, and brand mascots with elaborate designs. Leveraging this insight, we strategically selected an iconic abstraction that aligned seamlessly with Ford's brand essence of pioneering innovation.


By 2030, 68% of China’s passenger kilometers will be powered by autonomous vehicles  

Source: McKinsey, 2020


Conducted a virtual workshop where we gathered input from more than 20 stakeholders on their expectations and visions

We presented our research and findings from the past weeks and conducted a virtual workshop using Miro to gather feedback from over 20 stakeholders across different departments. The workshop was structured around 4 themes related to the brand, visual design, and character, and included 4 voting sessions, one for each theme. In addition, we provided space for individual ideas and personal feedback on the Ford VPA Character.

Value Proposition

Embodying “Pioneering Innovation” and Ford's core values - tough, fast, smart. As a supportive AI personal assistant, it empowers customers to be heroes of their own journeys.


Design 1.0