I designed “koa,” a wearable ring and connected app using biometric technology and machine learning to provide resiliency tools and social connection opportunities—supporting diverse images of anxiety management.
Social Impact, Mobile UX/UI, Machine Learning
Myself with occasional support from 8 classmates and our professor (James Rudolph)
XD, Sketchbook Pro, Qualtrics, Solidworks, Keyshot
3 Months (August 2019 - November 2019)
This project was featured in "The State of Medical Design" exhibition at the University of Notre Dame alongside work from design innovation consultancies Beyond, Farm, and Insight from March 2-27, 2020.
“There’s a strong mismatch between the ways people learn outside schools, and the ways they only appear to learn in schools,” Dr. Blum writes. Dr. Blum directs School Stories Lab, a research project seeking to publish honest personal school experiences.
We seek true stories on making friends, failing classes, falling in love. We welcome essays that explore subjects such as well-being, race, and friendship—anything that could reasonably fit under the heading “School Stories.” Ideally, stories should spring from some central challenge you have faced. It is helpful, but not essential, for the situation to reflect what is happening in the world right now.
School may be nearly universal, but individual experiences can differ immensely and be informed by factors including race, socio-economic status, gender, disability status, nationality, sexuality, age, religion and culture. We especially encourage marginalized folx to submit, both inside and outside of the United States. 
Because nearly everyone has a personal experience with school—as a student, parent, educator, or friend of any the previous—our research team needed a way to improve story-collecting efficiency beyond traditional ethnographic field research. 
We knew we would design a digital tool, so we focused our efforts on how to frame that tool to collect great stories. This would reduce the need for researchers to go into the field, freeing up their time for high-value product management tasks.
I looked at Pixar, the master storyteller eliciting real emotion from their audiences. Pixar stories take you on a journey. Pixar suggests great storytelling:
Talks about universal themes from a unique point of view.
✓ Has honest intent and a clear purpose.
✓ Elicits real emotions without a teaching lesson.
✓ Students want agency—a feeling of control over actions and their consequences—when managing their anxiety. They want options when it comes to developing their unique treatment plan. 
Intuitive and enduring
To connect students with the resources they struggle to access while delivering a final physical product I capitalized on existing wearable tech. Wearable tech could track student biometrics and, through machine learning, remind students of their anxiety triggers, nudge them to take a break when those triggers border on panic, and provide them with resources (both in-person and online) to manage their symptoms. 
Hinge meets Headspace
The koa app needed to organize a variety of different resources, from wellness and fitness classes to time in the nap pod to therapy sessions. I examined a variety of comparative apps that organize suggested [??] (Hinge, Bumble, Tinder) and support mental health management (Headspace, ?, ?).
Rough water, smooth sailing
Empowering students to act autonomously
My goal was to design a simple, friendly experience that would support empower college students to act autonomously. Below is a look at the final build.
✓ Friendly onboarding
The onboarding process elicits demographics, persona design (you'll see your illustration in UI throughout the app), and goals.
✓ Effective analytics
Access a 24/7 hotline to answer your urgent questions
✓ 24/7 support
Access a 24/7 hotline to answer your urgent questions
✓ Resiliency tools
Swipe to find
✓ Social connection opportunities
Swipe to find 
Pivot to online learning
COVID-19 hit the world in Spring 2020, just when we were about to launch our School Stories lab project, and so we delayed our launch by a few months to better position the site, frame the story prompts, and serve the students. Now, we have stories from “before,” and stories “during” the pandemic. 
Results & next steps
The story-collecting tool succeeded in supporting a diverse, global community of students as it gathered 180+ stories from users spanning 6 continents, 12 countries, and 31 U.S. states during the first month following its launch. 
Student researchers shared the stories on social media (Instagram, Twitter, Facebook) and then posted them to the website. When shared on social media, the stories not only prompted high story-submission conversion rates, but also built a validating student community encouraging learning outside of the classroom.
I feel empowered knowing the workflow and system I established has allowed non-designers to maintain the site and grow the project now that I have graduated. I’m excited to follow the lab as it evolves with new content.
✎  James Rudolph,  Industrial Design Professor
Feedback on the design? Want to talk about designing for impact? Say hi on LinkedIn.
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