Changing attitudes towards a crime fighting robot


by Carbon & Spark, 2016
We were so excited when Knightscope reached out to us to work with them. Knightscope is a robotics team out of Silicon Valley bringing Blade Runner to life. They have created a fleet of security robots to police malls, parking lots and campuses with the goal of reducing crime by 50%. We were thrilled to be working on such a cutting edge artificial intelligence project. Knightscope is currently deploying its technology with 21 clients in 19 cities, 5 states and 3 time zones and has gotten a lot of attention.
We were given free rein on this project. Our goal was to create information architecture, messaging, UX strategy and wireframes that portrayed Knightscope favorably and encouraged investment in their autonomous data machines. We were a little uncertain about supporting our future robot overlords, but it was such an interesting project that we hopped on board.


Knightscope had recently weathered a PR storm after one of their autonomous bots ran over a toddler. (The poor kid is fine, he only recieved a scrape but was never the less traumatized.)They needed help reassuring the public that they had worked out the kinks and that their creation is family friendly, safe and approachable. They faced a mixed public perception that robots are scary or unnatural and instead needed to present them as a normal part of life. Knightscope faced a challenge emerging technology companies often face: technological advancements outpace public comfort and it takes a while for the status quo to adapt.
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Since this new AI technology can make some people a little uneasy, we wanted to make Knightscope's Autonomous Data Machines (ADMs) more approachable in a few tangible ways: breaking them down to their component parts to show people what’s inside, showing them familiar settings, and lastly portraying them using well-known, non-threatening materials.


We broke the machine down into its constituent parts to demystify it and take away some of the angst-producing novelty.


We placed the security bot in familiar settings with people going about their days in a relaxed manner. This was meant to make its presence less jarring via propinquity.


We represented the ADMs with one of the oldest and more comforting mediums: pen on paper sketches. This portrayal made the machines feel more natural and reduce their powerful otherness.
When we were doing demographic research for Knightscope we initially defined four main disparate user personas based on analytics of similar products and industry norms. Each archetype possessed different motivations and risk tolerances. We wanted to provide cohesive brand messaging that appealed to everyone and didn’t alienate any of our segments. 

We later decided to add another persona: The Skeptic. This person wouldn’t be a potential investor, but they might be the bird in the ear of one of our main groups, and we wanted to be sure to counter his arguments with our messaging.




Our main KPI, getting people to visit Knightscope’s SeedInvest page and indicate their desire to invest, was at the forefront of our minds while designing the information architecture for the site.

This “indicated interest” metric drives Knightscope’s funding and allows them to continue to create, test and market their products.

This one overarching directive guided our entire site design process and made creating a sitemap straightforward.


We were really happy with the way our wireframes turned out. We kept a lot of space and used full-bleed imagery. We kept the site simple by using grids and hiding auxiliary information in tabs and carousels. If a user wanted to dive deeper, additional info was just a click away, but she could still comfortably scan the page and get to the point without getting overwhelmed. 

We also wanted to put a human face to the machine, so we included pictures of everyone on the team, not just the executives.
We worked on this project with an agency in DTLA called Manufactur. They don’t have a UX team so we collaborate with them frequently. We just love them! They are a cool and enthusiastic group led by Michael Romero. They are responsible for bringing our vision to life. They did all the visual design and development.