Concept app Designed FOR REASSURANCE
Building Connections Through a Just-In-Case Wearable
CONCEPT PRODUCT – Life Alert provides seniors who live at home with access to lifesaving emergency response through a simple one-touch wearable device.
CHALLENGE – Through this fictional project, we were tasked to design a solution to help bring Life Alert into the digital age. Life Alert has a variety of products that are out-dated compared with current technology, including a wearable that only works within one’s home and a GPS-enabled “help phone” that is limited to contacting only Life Alert.
DESIGN – Today, the app will focus on connecting family and friends to their senior loved ones within the confines of current Life Alert products. Tomorrow, it can leverage the capabilities of the Apple Watch or similar technology to jumpstart its offerings towards more tech-savvy baby boomers and share additional information with family and friends.
ROLE – Jeff Brydon and I conducted user research and designed the concept app from scratch. In addition to research, I focused on the wireframes and designed the high-fidelity mockup.
Understanding The User
App Design Influenced from Research on Aging and Longevity
Comparing Life Alert to its competitors, we found Life Alert is offering similar emergency response services and alert devices, but many of its competitors are also utilizing advanced technologies, such as fall detection or medication reminders. Our aging research narrowed our design thinking towards the positive aspects around seniors living longer, heather lives:
- Staying connected to family and friends
- Living an active lifestyle
- Eating right
Two Perspectives on the Product Experience: Seniors and the Family
We focused our attention on seniors and their family members, as family are important to promote long healthy lives for seniors. We decided not to focus on friends of seniors for within the scope at this time and should be included in further iterations. These personas kept the users in mind, ensuring Jeff and I were designing with the same things in mind and helped us communicate our ideas more clearly.
Interviews Uncover Bias About the Lives of Seniors
We surveyed seniors and their families and interviewed seniors and their adult children to learn about their opinion of Life Alert products and about their feelings on sharing health and activity related data. The survey and interviews clarified a bias I had around what constitutes activity for seniors. I assumed it meant physical fitness, but volunteering at the library, baking cookies for an evening with friends, or going to the hair salon is an activity for a senior. What this means for design is that traditional calorie trackers (like pedometers) would not necessarily capture the breadth of a senior's activity.
Using User-Centered Design Tools to Clarify the App's Direction
Building a Shared Understanding of the User's Pain-Points
We decided to focus on the positive aspects and sense of reassurance Life Alert products provide, rather than the negative aspects, such as fear of falling and being alone, and the survey and interview feedback affinity diagram we compiled reconfirmed this design direction.
Being a fictional project, we were not able to work with the Life Alert stakeholders. To rapidly generate lots of design possibilities, we worked with fellow students to conducted a design studio. The exercise allowed us to see and hear different ideas and interpretations on challenge.
We also wanted to understand all the possible touch-points a senior may have with Life Alert. Based on our user research, we knew seniors were not wearing the device all the time. We hypothesized that by maintaining a positive connection with family and friends, seniors may be more encouraged to wear the device continuously.
Sketching Out Ideas to Continue the Conversation
Sketching out lots of possible designs helped me think though my ideas and have something tangible to receive feedback on.
Validate the Design with Usability Testing
User Feedback and Iteration Elevates the Design
I translated the hand-drawn sketches into digital wireframes. After a round of usability testing on the initial wireframes, the tiled buttons turned into rows after receiving feedback that the tiles made it harder to distinguish a hierarchy or gain a sense of importance. When there are more options available (like the GPS Help Phone), it was even harder to distinguish.
Prototype Feedback Validated the Design Direction
With the interactive prototype in InVision, our goal was to create an app that provides a better sense of connection between seniors and their family. During usability testing, I received comments about comfortability with sharing information and worry about information that might be confidential. This echoed what we heard in the surveys and interviews we conducted. Finding the right level of customization so users and their senior loved ones feel confident about what information is being shared and with whom is a primary concern for this app.
Designing with purpose
Thinking Towards The Future, Today
The constraints around current Life Alert products don't take into account all the new technological advancements available today. Considering these technology constraints in stages – first focusing on current Life Alert products then considering potential future products – helped guide my thinking and design an app that could evolve to provide value into the future.
Reflecting on the Design Process and Time Constraints
Sketching as a Communication Tool and an Idea Generator
Time was an ever present companion for this project. By the end of the first week, I was concerned that I hadn’t landed on a concrete direction to move ahead with and begin testing. After deciding to focus on a product for today (with a goal to expand it in the future), time limited the amount of work I could accomplish before presenting. The design process is certainly a messy one, and it doesn’t always fit nicely into a time-box. That being said, I’m hopeful the design direction would provide value to current seniors and their loved ones and our work looking forward would prime Life Alert for future success as well.