User Interviews, Concept Testing, Focus Group, Persona Development, Web Development
We are a team of 3 MBA students, 1 engineering student, 2 HCI students and 1 graphic design student. I was deeply involved in the ideation and research process. I designed and prototyped the Cocoon app, designed the box, designed and coded our marketing website, and created the Snapchat filter for our event.
Traveling can be stressful especially when the environment is
noisy and chaotic. Business travelers need to recharge while on the go
and they want to look good while doing so. We created Cocoon, a smart sleepmask designed for travelers.
The soft mask blocks out light, the headphones block out noises and play white noises. When it's
time to wake up, the dawn imitation feature wakes the traveler up in a gentle way.
1. Fuzzy Front-end
An Ambiguous Task
The theme of the integrated product development project is wearable technology. Our prompt is to "Design and produce an item suitable to be worn routinely in daily life, incorporating the use of active technology, responsive to user needs in an innovative way." Wearable technology is a board topic. We started our project with user interviews and market research.
Our interviews and observations show that:
Wearables have significant penetration in our daily lives, primarily in the form of wrist-based fitness trackers
Wearables' functionality often overlap with smartphones and their ever-increasing general purpose capabilities
Our secondary research shows that:
Consumer Applications: General Consumer, Fitness & Sports, Fashion & Apparel,
Home Auto & Remote ID, Gaming & Recreation.
Non-consumer Applications: Health Care, Defense & Security, and Enterprise & Industrial
We generated over 100 ideas and voted on ideas that we were interested in conducting further research on. We categorized our problems & opportunities into various ‘intents’ that underlined our ‘general themes’.
Our solutions emerged inspired by our research and synthesis.
In order to re-evaluate each selected category, we started another round of brainstorming on problems and solutions. The solutions were specific ideas. We placed all the solutions in a market potential by feasibility grid. We weeded out ideas that were not feasible or had low market potential. After the session, we narrowed down our ideas to four categories: remember me, record me, regulate my temperature, and teach me.
We placed all the ideas into a 2 x 2 chart (feasibility vs value)
Opinions of Potential Users
We interviewed 20 participants about our four key ideas and gathered insights from their thoughts and concerns.
Based on the feedbacks from user interviews, we decided on three ideas for our first design review.
Storyboards of the 3 finalists
An ultra-comfort sleep mask with dawn imitation and built-in white noise to improve travel experience.
Glasses to help blind people navigate. One side vibrates to instruct the person to turn in that direction. Both sides vibrate if there is an obstacle ahead.
Smart fit gloves for weight lifting. Red light signals if the user has an incorrect form.
We tested 7 concepts (our 3 ideas and their variations) and gathered 54 responses from participants. We explained each concept to each participant and asked them about their thoughts about the idea, whether their willingness to purchase the product and the amount they were willing to pay.
ZenCocoon is the winner.
7 Concept cards
Customers' likelihood of buying each product
How might we craft a smart sleep mask that helps users rest well in a noisy chaotic environment?
2. Design & Prototyping
The Tormented Traveler
“My job requires a lot of travel, so I’m always looking for ways to stay productive in transit. I want to disconnect and refocus my mind, but it’s also important that my travel accessories match my personal style. I love new technology and I’m willing to try the latest and greatest.”
Technology meets business
We selected 5 features for a conjoint analysis (noise cancelling, dawn imitation, sleep analytics, battery life and price). We built 10 models, with prices ranging from $130 to $280. We asked participants to rank each card based on their willingness to purchase it.
Our respondents' willingness to purchase (WTP) for advanced sleep analytics was lower than the cost to make it, and a long battery life was not a highly valued feature.
Technology meets user experience
Prototyping: Round 1
We concluded 3 design principles from customer interviews:
Comfort as a design requirement.
Differentiation from smartphones
A wearable for relaxation and meditation
Material and Technology Exploration
We start with prototyping the looks-like, works-like and technology concurrently. For looks-like, we experimented with soft forms and fabric. For works-like, our team consulted with the sleep study experts from U Michigan and conducted literature research on how different colors of lights affect sleep and relaxation. For our technology, our team experimented with a variety of sensors, including motion sensors, and pulse sensors to explore ways to detect sleep quality.
The sleep mask should be sleek and soft. The surface should be removable and washable.
Embedded LED lights adjust the strength of light to wake the user up in a gentle way. Headphones are with active noise cancellation ability.
Our team experimented with a variety of sensors. We were trying to use the pulse sensor to track movements during sleep.
We planned to connect ZenCocoon with phones via Bluetooth. The companion app helps users to track their sleep quality.
Reflection and Planning
After we researched noise cancellation technologies, we realized that active noise cancellation requires us to use algorithms to generate waveforms to cancel out the noise. The technical requirment is beyond what our team are capable of doing. Instead of active noise cancellation, we decided to change our noise cancellation feature to noise isolation, where the headphones play relaxing white noise to block out unwanted noise.
We initally planned to use the pulse sensor to monitor sleep quality. However, the pulse sensor only works when the sensor stays on the forehead. When people are sleeping, they move. It is impossible to keep the pulse sensor at the same location the entire night. Since our interviewees showed little interest in sleep tracking, we decided to remove this feature.
Technology meets marketing
After weighted our technical feasibility and business requirements, we finalized 6 our key features.
For our second looks-like prototype, we wanted to create something lighter and sleeker than the "lamp-shade" first prototype. Our industrial designer tried to hand-sew this prototype. Hand-sewing turned out to be extremely time-consuming (more than 30hrs). The hems do not look professional compared to machine-sewing. Also, our product does not look sophisticated because of lack of delicate details.
We decided to use machine-sewing instead. In order to make the design more sophisticated, we decided to embroider monarch-like patterns on the surface of the sleep mask. The monarch pattern was drawn in Illustrator and used the CNC Embroidery machine to print the patterns on the fabric.
All Managed Through One App
The Cocoon App
Cocoon is managed through an app. The user can set up alarms in any combination of three ways: dawn imitation, pulse vibration or audio. The user can listen to curated audio tracks to aid their relaxation or sync their personal collection of music, podcasts or meditation tracks.
At the end of the semester, we participated in a tradeshow open to the public. We demonstrated Cocoon to the crowd. That was a fun and exhausting night.