Moments is a wearable app designed for early stage Alzheimer's Disease patients to maintain autonomy, stay connected with their caregivers, and motivates them to walk outdoors alone without the fear of getting lost. The concept was selected as global top 12 and won Honorable Mention in 2016 CHI Design Competition.
During the six months, I played the role of UX Designer and Researcher in the team and used a user-centered design process: conducting user research, ideating based on our findings, creating several prototypes to test ideas and assumptions with end users before finally creating high-fidelity visuals for our proposed design solution.
Silver Club Memory Programs,
University of Michigan
08/2015 - 01/2016
2016 CHI Confluence - 05/2016
CHI student design competition is held annually to encourage innovative idea generation under one specific design realm, and in 2016, the theme was about "doing good" by creating assistive technology. We chose to design for the early stage Alzheimer's patients and for a senior group whose life suffers a lot, it's not easy to find out the real pain point.
To operationalize this theme "doing good", we aimed to adopt a inclusive design strategy that allows Alzheimer's patients to more effectively use an existing assistive technology. It's our goal to investigate why they face more challenges and to experiment with ways to overcome those challenges, and eventually to come up with a solution that address their real problem.
Designing for a special user group, it's crucial for us to learn more about the daily life of early stage Alzheimer's patients (the users), the ones who take care of the patients (the family members), and the systems patients are familiar with (the tools). Therefore, we conducted a series of user research, including the focus group, interviews with the patients and family members, and the following debriefing sessions.
↥ A series of user research conducted with the support from the Silver Club Memory Programs within the University of Michigan.
Based on the data we collected, we depicted the daily exercising experience of the early stage Alzheimer's patients. Most participants rarely go outside alone, which means that the living environment and activity range of patients is restrained. Therefore, to improve patient's autonomy and make them feel assured is our top goal.
We also gathered information about their device preferences, which made us rethink about the interactions with the patients:
Device Preference: 90% of the patients we interviewed wear watch or medical emergency bracelets, while only 50% use smartphones.
Interaction: Patients are generally familiar with audio interaction mechanism rather than visual interfaces on devices
Emergency: If they walk outdoors alone and cannot handle unexpected situations, patients are aware of how to call for help.
↥ Quotes from interview participants.
We brainstormed and came up with several ideas, both rational and wild, for both the system as a whole as well as for individual features. We sketched our ideas to ensure the team was on the same page.
Customized journeys preset by family members
Voice navigation recorded by family members
Emergency mechanism for patients to call for help
Photos/Videos on specific spots as shared memories
↥ User flows. Top, early flow ideation. Bottom, digital user flow.
We did the first round of usability testing for paper prototype to see how users understand the whole design concept and some individual features such as voice control and photo/video bonus. Paper prototype seemed more low-tech and approachable for the elders, and thus triggered them to provide more feedback.The design concept of customized journey was well understood by participants. And multiple remarks confirmed the significance of adopting the voice control in the navigation system.
↥ Top, paper prototype. We cut the paper into the shape of watches, so it could be attached to participants’ wrists just like how they wear watches in their daily lives.
↥ Bottom, first round of usability testing. Headphone was used to mimic the voice navigation and voice control system.
Based on the results and feedbacks of the usability testing, we made changes to the initial design. One of the significant changes was the distance reminder.
Some participants felt confused when they were reminded to make a turn. Thus, we decided that the device should incorporate distance reminder, both audible and visual, to remind users of the current process and the next step. And I spent a few hours exploring the solution space and trying to figure out the best way to visualize the distance reminder.
↥ The QOC Analysis performed to support the design iterations on the distance reminder.
The second round of user testing was conducted for the digital prototype so we could get users feedbacks on more detailed design elements, such as colors, font size, icons, and voice instructions. The following are some updates based user feedbacks.
↥ Addressing the accessibility issues for the Alzheimer's patients.
The solution features a voice control interface that allows users to follow pre-recorded instructions to travel along the routes preset by their care partners. It not only addresses the way-finding issue, but also encourages patients' independent walking by uniting the family and co-creating experiences.
Family can insert videos and pictures related to the specific spot into the system. Videos and pictures can remind patients of memorable moments with their family at certain spots. At the just spots, triggered videos help the user recall wonderful memories and can thus inspire positive moods
Another reason why the Alzheimer's patients feel reluctant to walk alone outdoors is the risk of getting lost. To solve this concern and assure the safety, there's an emergency mechanism that enables Alzheimer's patients to call for help from their caregivers, whenever unexpected and uncontrollable accidents happen.
In 2016, the CHI student design competition has attracted 63 international submissions and over 250 individuals. The design concept of Moments was evaluated by a board of judges based on novelty, analysis, real-world application and presentation. We gave a 10-minute presentation to the committee, after which we stood by our poster and fielded questions during the CHI Conference held in San Jose.
Also, we submitted a 5-page research paper to elaborate the problem and our solution. The paper is archived in the ACM Digital Library. The concept was chosen as one of the top 12, receiving the Honorable Mention Award.
Moments means a lot to me. This is the very first project that I had the chance to work with a team and go through a rigorous UX research and design process. I put the methodology into practice and gained direct experience in every step. I realized how critical it is to get feedbacks from the targeted users in every design iterations. Last but not least, just as the theme of CHI 2016 - CHI for good, I do hope this design concept could help Alzheimer's patients and their beloved ones make their moments matter.