This project comes from the Integrated Product Development (IPD) program. IPD is a 3-month long, energy-intensive, interdisciplinary design competition across the schools of Art & Design, Business, Engineering and Information. Our 2018 cohort was tasked with the challenge of designing a technology-integrated product that helps improve health maintenance and outcomes of senior adults.
Jan - Apr 2018
Electronic Engineer (Arduino)
Design a product suitable for use by senior adults, incorporating the use of active technology, to improve health maintenance and outcomes.
Target demographic: senior adults (65+) who are living outside institutional care facilities
Retail price: less than $200 and profitable
Manufacturability: Major touch surfaces fabricated by the team
Lumipath, a lighting solution to help the elderly walk safely in their houses at night
Lumipath won the first prize in IPD Trade Show Competition out of seven groups with 400+ votes from participants both online and in-person.
Advances in nutrition, disease control, pharmaceuticals and other health-related technologies have led to a sharp increase in life expectancy in developed countries. This has created a demographic bulge in the senior adult category, which includes people aged roughly 65 and older. Social and health care provider institutions face increasing pressure to meet the health needs presented by the large numbers of people in this status. Technology advances invite creative design of products which will enable senior adults to live longer while remaining relatively healthy, active and independent.
We started from a very ambiguous stage of concept generation. We explored ideas and identified potential areas for improvement regarding the elderly. Apart from reading relevant articles and reports, we visited one senior center and two senior living facilities to observe the living status of the elderly.
Except for onsite observations and interviews with three groups of senior adults (12 people in total), we also looked at the statistics collected from multiple channels including previous reports online, literature review, discussions with experts.
After conducting the primary and secondary research, we then synthesized the information and came up with four major topics as potential directions of our design: Mobility & Independence, Benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) & Poor vision, social isolation and Medicine adherence and dexterity.
To help us better understand our target users and their use cases, we came up with four personas corresponding to each topic.
Personas for each topic above. (Click thumbnails for more details)
Our group came together and conducted a brainstorm session with the findings and the personas we have developed. We went through a collaborative process - one member generate an idea first and then everyone took turns to add upon their ideas. This process was repeated multiple times to generate as many ideas as we can. At the end of the session, we agreed on four solutions for these four problems.
Brainstorming and design solutions for each topic. (Click thumbnails for more details)
To narrow down the scope of the product, we designed seven concept cards including five original and two existing concepts and introduced them to 50 target users. Each concept card contained a concept sketch and a brief description. Participants were asked to fill out a survey to rate their willingness to buy and identify an ideal price range for each product.
Based on the result of the survey, we built a scoring model to evaluate each product by effort and value. The model indicated that the Interactive Screen and Night Light Path are two ideas that are worth exploration. After discussions with advisors and team members, we decided to zoom in on the idea of designing for night lighting.
Refined Product Brief
After a series of research and analysis, we refined our design goal as avoiding trip hazards and guard the elderly (+65) walking safely at night.
To further narrow down the scope and identify design opportunities, we listed out a number of problems users are facing while using night lights, conducted a competitive analysis to study the existing products and eventually voted for top aspects that we wanted to design for:
The product is bright enough the light up the path but not too bright to be invasive
The product allows for flexible positioning
The product is easy to install
The look of the product does not have a negative impact on the interior design of the house
The product is smart - know when to turn on and turn off
On top of our initial idea of designing a night lighting path, we brainstormed more possibilities to achieve the design goal such as lighting wristband, lighting slippers, auto-lighting lamps etc. By looking into the market and reconsidering the needs of our target users, eventually we came up with the idea of Lumipath.
Lumipath consists of a pressure-sensored mat and a set of Lumipath lights. These lights can be installed anywhere in the house and they can communicate wirelessly with the mat. The user will put the mat beside the bed, and when he/she gets up at night and stands on the mat, the mat will sense the pressure and trigger lights one by one along the way to form a lit path. When the user comes back to the bed and steps on the mat again, the mat will turn off the lights. For instance, a set of lights can be installed along the path to the bathroom, so that the path can be illuminated at night when the senior adult needs to go.
To better understand how people value different features that make up our product, we conducted a conjoint analysis with 30 target users. We sent out a survey, which contains a brief introduction of our product and 12 product variations, to 30 participants, asked them to rank these variations based on interests in a descending order (most interested ranked as #1). The variations are essentially different mixtures of three key features: trigger method (Proximity and motion sensor/Floor mat pressure switch), power source (battery/outlet) and price points ($20, $30, $40).
Learning from the analysis result, we found that
Users were price sensitive
Preference for floor mat pressure sensor (especially with older users)
Initial aversion to Battery Operated power due to concerns with frequent battery replacement (more frequent with the younger demo: 20-29)
Upon further discussion with interviewees, it was clear that if batteries needed to be replaced infrequently, battery operation could be preferable due to flexibility of light location.
Physical Prototype Implementation
Starting from scratch, the physical prototype went through several iterations before getting into the final stage. Due to time and resource constraints, we were only able to produce a working prototype that presents ideas of our product. The body of the product was designed by our industrial designer, Paul, and produced using the 3D printing technology. With the absence of a engineering student in our team, I worked as a product designer and an electronic engineer to realize the features that we designed. It was FUN playing with Arduino boards and a bunch of sensors and wires!
Engineering drawings and prototypes
Product Launch - Trade show
FYI - The Trade Show consisted of online and physical parts. For the online trade show, people visited the website of the product and vote. The physical trade show was held in April, where members of the community were invited to view the physical products, listen to teams’ promotions, and vote for their favorites. Each customer/voter had up to $250 to spend on all products. Market shares and revenues were computed based on these votes.
Costing and Pricing
Based on our pricing model and preceding market research, we put together raw material costs, parts costs and processing costs and came to our final product cost. Using a profit calculator provided, we defined our price at $60 for a combo consisting of one pressure-sensored mat and three Lumipath lights.
Branding and Marketing
We produced a series of assets for marketing purposes including a logo, a poster, a T-shirt, a video and a website for Lumipath. We also put together a presentation deck including facts about the elderly to help people understand the night walking and falling problems that senior adults are facing. For the physical trade show, we set up a bed with dimmed light to simulate a bedroom environment at night and laid the mat beside the bed with one Lumipath light mounted on the wall a distance away from the bed.
On the day
After three months of preparation and development, finally the big day came! On the day, we invited visitors to experience Lumipath and explained the design rationale behind it. With our hard work and active promotions, finally we won the first prize of the trade show with the highest profit gained. Well done team!