Project Type: Research, Prototyping, User Testing, Interaction Design
An integrated system connecting long-distance caregivers to the individuals they care for.
This project allowed me to step into multiple roles. I had a hand in all stages of the process including research, prototyping, user testing, and design. My primary role was visual & interaction design.
Premera Blue Cross
Create a design solution that aides primary caregivers in their daily responsibilities within the context of aftercare.
It is estimated that there are more than 40 million unpaid caregivers in the US. Unpaid caregivers do not receive adequate attention from healthcare providers when compared to care recipients. Consequently, they face many emotional and logistical challenges during their caregiving process; many of which remain unnoticed.
Long-distance caregivers face a unique set of problems which make their daily care-giving responsibilities tricky. How can we design a solution that fosters the feelings of connectivity between long-distance caregivers and those they look after to help combat the emotional burdens faced by long-distance caregivers?
The BetterSense system is designed to help individuals, in the role of being a long-distance caregiver, have better and more meaningful connections with the loved ones they look after. BetterSense is a system of devices that helps facilitate meaningful and personalized communication between long-distance caregivers and the individuals they look after through the use of ambient data.
This section explores the process behind the solution, BetterSense. The project kicked off with research efforts to better understand the user and their needs. It then moved into ideation and on to prototyping and user testing.
I conducted several interviews with current long-distance caregivers to gain a better understanding of the challenges they face on a daily basis.
As a team, we designed a research probe activity kit that gave us valuable insight into what it means emotionally to be a long-distance caregiver.
We read and reviewed articles and journals that gave us even more insight into our primary audience, the long-distance caregiver.
From our research efforts, we gained several insights that guided our decisions as we moved into the ideation and prototyping steps of the process. These insights included that long-distance caregivers have more emotion concerns than on-site caregivers and that they require a different level of support than more traditional caregivers.
Following the research phase we dove into ideation using several techniques like mind mapping and brainstorming activities. This yielded 90 possible concepts to explore. We were able to down select these ideas from 90 to 20 by grouping similar ideas together and getting rid of the less feasible ones with the goal of narrowing it down to three possible directions.
As we moved through down selection, we wanted to make sure our ideas were aligned with the insights we had discovered during the research phase of the project.
To do this we set up a decision making matrix where we rated each of our 20 concepts to answer six down-selection criteria questions. From here we identified the three strongest concepts to move forward with.
A pillow that allows caregivers and care receivers to feel connected through messages sent with a hug
An app that helps long-distance caregivers keep track of all of the ins and outs of being a caregiver
A system of sensors that uses machine learning to access an individual's daily routine and spot abnormalities
As a team, we each designed a contextual storyboard for our three strongest concepts. I designed the story board below to give situational context to the daily routine tracker concept.
We moved forward into prototyping and user testing with this concept.
We designed wireframes for three key paths we wanted to explore with users within this concept. We recruited users through a screener form sent out to a neighborhood forum. We were looking to test specifically with users who identified as long-distance caregivers.
The prototype tests allowed us to identify several areas that could be improved upon to create a better user experience overall.
Explore how a user might place and activate the sensors
Explore how a user selects, decides, and sets up criteria for sensor notifications through the application
Explore the sequence of steps for checking notifications and resolving them
Our participants didn’t read the sensor set up instructions. This lead to problems during setup and activation of the product
There was a disconnect surrounding what exactly the sensors do and what they monitor
The activity insight graphs were confusing to nearly all users we tested with
Setting up notification criteria was confusing for a number of the users we tested with
Following the paper prototype user tests we discovered that our current solution was not aligned with some key points from our research. This lead us to a big pivot moment within the project. Our solution was missing an element that would allow us to successfully tackle some of the emotional issues long-distance caregivers were facing.
We went back to the drawing board and combined two of our three stronger concepts together. We combined the Warm Your Hand Pillow with the Daily Routine Sensor to create BetterSense.
The two concepts combined resulted in a lamp that helps to facilitate communication between two individuals through the use of ambient data. The data collected by the motion sensors is used to inform each user when the other person is home indicating times that would be good for communication. The sensors also provide users with a breakdown of data that allows them to make decisions about communication if they notice low-activity levels from a user.
This concept is best illustrated through a user flow (below) using long-distance caregiver, Amanda, as an example.
As the lead visual and interaction designer on this project, I was tasked with creating the visual identity of BetterSense. The brand needed to capture four core elements that are at the heart of BetterSense:
Motion is a big aspect of the Bettersense brand and is represented through photography and brand elements.
The branding aims to create a space that invites users to leave their emotional burdens at the door as they use the Bettersense system to have more meaningful connection with each other.
Imagery will be used to capture the feelings of fulfillment of users as they use the Bettersense products.
Giving users peace of mind surrounding their loved one’s care is a pivotal principle of the brand.
Following the pivot point, we moved into testing the high-fidelity prototype. Tests were conducted utilizing a Wizard of Oz testing method. Users were seeing the screens on an iPhone that was connected to a hidden computer where I was manually moving them through screens to give them a real-time experience.
At the end of the 12 week period working with Premera Blue Cross, my team presented our work to designers and executives at their headquarters. Premera was intrigued by our concept, especially the applications beyond the world of caregiving. Below are the next steps I would take with this project.
I would want to ideate on forms for the final design of the home kit and find a form that fits with the product's goals.
I would test the product in the homes of caregivers to better understand it’s applications and limitations and adjust the design as needed.
Bringing this product to market would be the last step.