Smart Soles

Smart Soles is a sensor-imbedded wearable insole and app designed to help seniors track and improve their balance over time.

Role & Contribution
Product Designer

End-to-end UX design, user and technical research, product discovery & validation

Timeline
09/2019 - 04/2020
(8 months)
Team
Alana (Business + strategy)
Christopher (Software eng)
Karen (Software eng)
Ryan (Hardware eng)
Pranav (Hardware eng)
Results
Semi-finalists at UW HHIC 2020 in Seattle

Winner of Wolfram Alpha Award at nwHacks 2020
Smart Soles is a sensor-imbedded wearable insole and app designed to help seniors track and improve their balance over time.

I joined UBC's New Venture Design (capstone project) last year to develop a product from scratch to a MVP launch. Working with a team of 6, we spent lots of time through ideation, trial and error, and ultimately, a pair of hardware insoles and its companion app.

As we age - our cognitive, physical and sensory coordination decreases.

This makes it difficult for people to
accurately know how their balance is changing over time.
Every 11 seconds, an older adult is treated in the emergency room for fall.
Every 19 minutes, an older adult dies as a result of a fall.
By the end of 2020, falls are estimated to cause a financial toll of $67.7 billion on the economy.
Statistics are from US Centre for Disease Control and Prevention
* An older adult is defined as 65+ years old
Problem statement
How might we design a dashboard with views that support the needs and tasks of light industrial managers?
Starting with seniors - understanding their painpoints
Going to senior centres

Product discovery started off with user interviews with seniors aged between 60-70+ years old. We wanted to learn more about how seniors are currently taking care of their balance.

To help the team build curiosity and empathy for our users, I encouraged my business and engineering teammates to partake in user interviews as well.

Key findings
  • Many seniors are accepting of using technology and 85% of them own and operate smart phones
  • Available senior balance tools are often reactive in nature eg. using a walking cane (at the point of physical dependence) or fall alert systems (at the point of a fall)
  • There is no way to consistently monitor and view their balance over time → visits to healthcare professionals provide only snapshots of their balance health, not the holistic picture
Our assumptions

Seniors are adverse towards using technology or adopting new products. Current solutions are working well and seniors are satisfied with their healthcare habits.

Constraints

Device must be able to collect sensor data. Data must be trained through an algorithm that determines whether this balance is "good" or "poor". The app must be able to communicate key information to users and help them change their health habits.

Validation through market research
Key findings
  • Products that are involved in the insole wearable space are catered towards athlete performance training
  • Popular wearable apps lack user education and personalized recommendations
  • Wearable apps are cluttered with too many features
  • Most wearables and its apps are complicated for seniors to use, as they cater to a wide range of use cases eg. tracking calories, time, pop-up notifications
Insights & takeaways
  • Based on their user habits and needs, a wearable in an insole format fits their needs best → would not require constant usage or small screen interactions
  • Lack of education resources and catered content leads to low motivation for balance improvement
  • Exercises/aftercare given by healthcare professionals are often forgotten by seniors → there is no concrete way to track patient self-care
  • Out of the 3 senior user segments identified, fall-conscious seniors are the most likely to adopt our product for long-term use
1. User education
Design reasoning

Following our interview notes, seniors mentioned they often have trouble finding relevant information on their balance health or forget details from their clinician visits.

In addition, older individuals are less inclined to divide their attentionbetween multiple tasks, which is why I've designed in multiple cards of long-form texts.

Calendar - weekly view
Insights

The new users of Pattern needed a functional dashboard that allowed for quick filtering and data select, as well as allow a visual way of booking multiple overlapping shifts.

A monthly view is used by both the managers and HR coordinators to schedule their temporary workforce.

New - employee view
Before After
Insights

The new users of Pattern needed a functional dashboard that allowed for quick filtering and data select, as well as allow a visual way of booking multiple overlapping shifts.

A monthly view is used by both the managers and HR coordinators to schedule their temporary workforce.

User testing with customers

To validate our new designs, we held user interviews with 3 companies that heavily used our product. I led the conversation by asking about their current experience on the platform, and then we went through a task-based exercise with the new interfaces.

The new screens and their functionalities provided much more positive responses and excitement about using the product. There weren't any large concerns about using the new screens nor did the customers have major difficulties completing tasks.

One bucket of feedback included visibility and accessibility, as some of the icons, texts and colours were difficult to read. For the next iteration, I intend to follow best-practice accessibility guidelines and to resize the icons and texts for better visibility.

"This is much more useful! Now I easily know what's going on, and it's very clear to me how my shifts are ordered and who's going there."

"I need the filters ASAP! Why is it not on the product right now?!"

"The monthly calendar view is a bit weird... but that's probably cus I've never seen or used anything like it. I think after a few tries I can understand it because I like the bird's eye view of my schedule."

2. Design a new single and bulk editing functionality for the marketplace platform
Outcome
Designed and shipped the new single and bulk edit feature, which would allow users to add or delete shifts without operational assistance.
Constraints
Editing features are complex as there are multiple components to a shift, such as time, position and worker assigned. The complexity arises when any of these moving parts may conflict with each other.

As a result of this feature development, the engineers have revised their data model to better work with the mental model and action of our end users.
Creating a new feature - managing data

As previously mentioned, the current platform no longer sufficed for the light industrial customer - which meant a lot of manual operations intervention.

One thing that consistently showed up with was how customers could not edit shifts by themselves.

This was because shifts had transformed from one-time shifts to complex, repeating shifts within a group of shifts. This meant we had to design an edit flow that would consider a wide range of work flows.

Problem statement
How might we create an editing feature that considers the complexity of data in a shift and covers a wide range of use cases?
Looking at competitors

I started by looking at other established competitors in the gig economy space. I also explored parallel industries, such as scheduling, content management and databases to understand the flow and interactions of complex workflow management.

This allowed me to understand how information, buttons, and interactions were structured from the beginning state to end state.

We decided on a modal design as this follows the design documentation we currently follow, and is a common interaction pattern for this action.

Mapping out the flow

To determine what exactly we were building, I work closely with the PM and engineers to map out the user flow and to quickly determine what was feasible on the implementation end.

The flow from the information architecture seemed straightforward, but when we broke it down to components via card sorting, I realized that multiple parts contribute the the edit flow of a shift.

Here are some of the questions we considered that led us to the final designs.

Design iterations - edit modals
Iteration 1

Using components from Material Design, I created the first few designs focusing on just the add and remove shifts.

In this design, I had included chips to represent some of the attributes within a shift that could be reused at different stages of the flow, and show affected attributes.

Iteration 2

Another issue we ran into was that our modals had different responsive sizes.

While the simpler flows remained the same width, the more complex ones included a data table or had checklists.

In this version, I explored putting the table or interactive designs in a separate page (outside of the modal). However, this would break the purpose of a modal and the flow of completing the action.

Iteration 3 - final

The final design was determined by the need for consistency and clear user objectives.

Breaking out of the Material Design norm, we've included a top exit and modal steps at the bottom. This allows the users to navigate through the flow easily regardless of which type of editing needed to be done (single or bulk).

Overall flows (12 flows for this editing modal) + iterations in 6 weeks
High-level overview

In these 12 flows for editing shifts, we've considered factors such as:
- shift count (add, minus, delete entire booking)
- matched workers with confirmed shifts
- unmatched workers with shifts
- notifying affected changes (in data table)
- allowing customers to choose preferred employees
- have our system automatically match and unmatch if no employee preference is given
- determining and displaying which shifts are a single event or bulk event
- adding new notifications

3. New visual design + branding
Outcome
Designed a new logo, company website, and selected new colours for Pattern between Sept 2020 to April 2021.

Currently, we are upgrading our design assets with more documentation and new components. For this, I'm working closely with our senior designer to understand building the design system following atomic design principles.
Constraints
Before I joined, there was a period of time where Pattern had no designers. This gave engineers free reign to make up features on the spot, which led to inconsistencies and improper UX patterns.

As the only designer, it was also difficult to manage the entire range of design needs alone (eg. graphic, visual, marketing, product) so there was little documentation.
Building a new brand from scratch

Pattern was previously designed and branded by a contract designer during the time that it was still determining its product market fit.

However, with a shift towards a new customer base with more vertical industry nuances, Pattern wanted to redesign its brand that reflected change and innovation in the staffing industry.

Building on that theme, we've made the brand to be more vibrant, friendly and focused around connecting workers and manager.

Design audit for the design system

Now with another designer onboard, the product team determined that this was a good opportunity to start building a proper design system with documentation.

To determine what needs to be changed, we began with a design audit of the current platform. Right now, we're building the design system alongside in parallel to feature sprints.

Learnings + current steps

As previously mentioned, the current platform no longer sufficed for the light industrial customer - which meant a lot of manual operations intervention.

One thing that consistently showed up with was how customers could not edit shifts by themselves.

This was because shifts had transformed from one-time shifts to complex, repeating shifts within a group of shifts. This meant we had to design an edit flow that would consider a wide range of work flows.

Thanks for reading!
See my other projects →

Smart Soles

From chance to choice: designing a sensor-embedded wearable and app for senior healthcare

User Experience Design
User Research & Interviews
Product Discovery
Role
Timeline
Results
Semi-finalists at UW HHIC 2020 in Seattle & Winner of Wolfram Alpha Award at nwHacks 2020
09/2019 - 04/2020
(8 months)

Smart Soles

Smart Soles is a sensor-imbedded wearable insole and app designed to help seniors track and improve their balance over time. I joined as part of UBC's New Venture Design program (capstone) to develop a product from scratch to MVP with a team of 6.

Working closely with teammates from engineering and business backgrounds, my role included user research, UX/UI design, technical research and product discovery.

As we age, our cognitive, physical and sensory coordination decreases. This makes it difficult for people to accurately know how their balance is changing over time.

Every 11 seconds, an older adult is treated in the emergency room for a fall.
Every 19 minutes, an older adult dies as a result of a fall.
By the end of 2020, falls are estimated to cause a financial toll of $67.7 billion on the economy.
the challenge
How might we help aging individuals monitor and improve their balance in an accessible and preventative way?
Starting with seniors - understanding their painpoints
Starting with seniors- understanding their painpoints
Talking to users

Product discovery started off with user interviews with seniors aged between 60-70+ years old. We wanted to learn more about how seniors are currently taking care of their balance.

To get the team aligned, I encouraged my engineering and business teammates to partake in user interviews as well.

Our assumptions

Seniors are adverse towards using technology or adopting new products. The current solutions are working well and seniors are satisfied with their healthcare habits.

Key findings
  • Many seniors are accepting of using technology and 85% of them own and operate smart phones
  • Available senior balance tools are often reactive in nature eg. using a walking cane (at the point of physical dependence) or fall alert systems (at the point of a fall)
  • There is no way to consistently monitor and view their balance over time → visits to healthcare professionals provide only snapshots of their balance health, not the holistic picture
Validation through market research - What are the opportunities?
Key findings
  • Products that are involved in the insole wearable space are catered towards athlete performance training
  • Popular wearable apps lack user education and personalized recommendations
  • Wearable apps are cluttered with too many features
  • Most wearables and its apps are complicated for seniors to use, as they cater to a wide range of use cases eg. tracking calories, time, pop-up notifications
INsights & takeaways
  • Based on their user habits and needs, a wearable in an insole format fits their needs best → would not require constant usage or small screen interactions
  • Lack of education resources and catered content leads to low motivation for balance improvement
  • Exercises/aftercare given by healthcare professionals are often forgotten by seniors → there is no concrete way to track patient self-care
  • Out of the 3 senior user segments identified, fall-conscious seniors are the most likely to adopt our product for long-term use
The process
Click on images to expand and see different iterations
Game plan

Early on, our goal was focused on validating the user flow and technical feasibility. This dictated the early designs and functions of data collection and outcome.

Designing the home page

Based on our notes and brainstorming, we wanted to remove all other nice-to-haves to deliver on the feasibility of hardware and software working.

This defined the main user flow of data collection, data interpretation and receiving a personalized exercise recommendation.

Visual Design

All UI elements are in fonts over 16px and visually spaced out to account for senior eyesight and mobile coordination. Colours are in black or dark blue to ensure visual contrast.

Designing the exercise page

I focused on implementing cards for exercises, as this contains more information in one related container and the larger size would be easier for individuals to select.

Mental hierarchy

Secondary research indicates that seniors need more prompts to create a mental information architecture in their mind, which is why I've added sticky nav bars through out the screens.

Showcasing our MVP

We got featured on TV for like 2 seconds, made a working but definitely not comfortable insole and had a great trip to Seattle!

Smart Soles works as a seamingless tool of any senior’s lives. We envision the insoles as being powered by low-energy, long-lasting batteries with automatic power on/off so that individuals could literally just set it and forget it.

For the final designs, I continued to develop through the iterations and notes to refine the user flow towards 3 main user and product goals.

Educate older individuals about the consequences of falls
Help users improve their balance through personalized exercises
Lead to lasting habits and follow-through on their balance care
Provide easy access to education

Following our interview notes, seniors mentioned they often have trouble finding relevant information on their balance health or forget details from their clinician visits.

In addition, older individuals are less inclined to divide their attention between multiple tasks, which is why I've designed in multiple cards of long-form texts.

Automating balance tracking

As individuals age, their level of cognition decline and impact different areas of memory. They may inaccurately remember the state of their balance at each doctor's visit or forget to follow through with recommended routines.

In order to help improve their prospective memory (remembering to do something in the future), having Smart Soles automatically track and cue seniors to improve balance will largely reduce the user effort to remember changes and progress.

Give peace of mind

Often times, their children, family and friends are also worried for them. However, some seniors admitted that they don't want to burden or worry their family by sharing about their health.

By sending triggered notifications based on previous data and trends over time, loved ones can be informed of any unusual activity and take proactive measures before things get worse.

Next steps & reflections
Usability testing

Due to the pandemic, we were unable to test our MVP and final designs with end users.

However, if it was possible, I would have conducted moderated sessions with seniors to go through an interactive prototype.


Starting with seniors
Visual design

In retrospect, some of the colour choices and visual design elements I chose may not be the best. For example, shades of blue/grey are not accessible to individuals with eyesight issues. Card box shadows may also be too faint to be visually visible.

For next time, I would test out colours and visual design much earlier through more user testing and research.

Be aware of paralysis analysis

With so many options and directions to go, it can be easily be overwhelming. Although that's fine, I would tell myself to take bias towards action and to pick the strongest starting point.

Define your success

As a team, we had so many ideas and aspirations towards this project. I think it was good to have created our definition of a successful project from the get go so that we could achieve it in measurable steps!

Thanks for reading!
See my other projects →