Jack’s Bike

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Jack’s Bike is a compact, moto-cross-like motorcycle. It’s stored folded up in a rear cargo area of the Bubbleship when not in use. To get it ready to ride Jack:

  1. Unlocks the cargo pod from a button on his wrist
  2. Pulls it out of the Bubbleship
  3. Unfolds its components (which lock automatically into place)
  4. Rides off.

When Jack mounts the bike it automatically powers on and is ready to ride.

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The bike is heavy, as shown by Jack’s straining to lift it out as well as the heavy sound it makes when he drops it on the ground. It is very solid, and no parts shift even when dropped from lifting height.

Purpose?

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There is no obvious reason for Jack to use a bike instead of the Bubbleship. The bike does contain a small radar system, but such functionality could be easily integrated into the Bubbleship. Otherwise the Bubbleship is faster, more comfortable, has longer range, ignores the problems presented by difficult terrain, and has a better connection to the rest of Jack’s support network. So there’s no obvious functional advantage.

It makes more sense that this bike is a release for Jack’s exploratory personality. We see several times that Jack goes and does something brash or dangerous, simply to do something different and make his day more interesting. It’s part of who he is and how he engages with the world.

If so, then Jack simply likes taking the bike out for a ride. He is happy when he takes it out of the Bubbleship, and he does several unnecessary jumps on the bike just for fun. Even though the Bubbleship could have found the signal quicker and easier than the Bike, the bike was a more entertaining way to spend the day. We also see that, when things get serious, Jack quickly calls for Drone backup and is happy to see the Bubbleship waiting for him at the surface.

Let’s presume the TET saw these behaviors (or lost several early Jacks to boredom when this option wasn’t available), and created the bike to make him more happy and effective.

Delight Your Users

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So here’s an interesting lesson: The most efficient tool for the job might not always be the most effective. A user’s experiential needs are just as important as their need to get the job done, and considering those needs may lead to a design that is satisfyingly fun.

That can be hard for designers who are focused on improving efficiency, and can be even more difficult for product teams. But if you can figure it out, it’s worth it.

After all, you don’t want to have to keep replacing your Jacks.

5 thoughts on “Jack’s Bike

  1. Not so sure about the claim, “There is no obvious reason for Jack to use a bike instead of the Bubbleship.”

    Here are a few:

    The Bubbleship can’t land on steep or extremely uneven surfaces.
    The Bubbleship can’t go underground and the motorcycle’s winch was an important part of one scene.
    Scavs can hear or see the Bubbleship at a distance so “scouting” may require additional mobility.
    A damaged drone may have parts scattered over a wide area so searching by motorcycle might be more efficient.
    We don’t know if the Bubbleship has enough fuel to hover indefinitely. We do know it has a lot since it can achieve orbit.
    It’s possible the motorcycle is used to carry heavy tools and power packs necessary for on-ground maintenance and repair of a failed drone.

    Otherwise, I agree that the motocross bike is gratuitous (but makes for some awesome imagery).

    Just be glad that Jack didn’t pull a bone-white Segway from the cargo pod! 🙂

  2. How many Jacks do you think the Tet burned through to find a transportation mode that was exciting enough to keep a Jack entertained and productive but safe enough to limit Jack losses to acceptable levels?

  3. Pingback: Bike interfaces | Sci-fi interfaces

  4. Something that bugged me about that bike is the fact that, while it seems to be intended for offroad use, its wheels and tires are those of a road-only bike. On every dirt bike manufactured since the 80s, the front wheel is narrower and has a larger diameter than the rear (usually 21″ front, 18″ or 19″ rear), because it will roll over obstacles and won’t dig into loose material as much. And everyone knows knobby tires (or at least tires with more open tread) are better for off-road.

    And while you certainly can argue that the bike is intended for use on any surface, not just dirt, a dirt bike will perform much better on pavement than a street bike will on loose dirt or sand. No doubt the bike it looks like it does purely to fit with the symmetry and simple geometries of the other Tet designs.

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