Inclusive Design



research - prototyping




Integrated Product Development (IPD) is a cross-disciplinary University of Michigan course. Students from Art & Design, Business, Engineering, and Information form each team works as an independent firm through all the process. The goal is to develop a fully functional active technology product to improve senior health.



January - April 2018



I was part of a team of 5. We all actively participated in all steps. By the end of the course, I focused more on prototyping instead of costing or coding.



How might we, personas & journey maps, concept testing, conjoint analysis, problem identification, aesthetics preferences









Cal: our final product provided a calendar, reminders and relationships support  

Problem space - driverless shuttle


Pain points (that flow chart kind of thing)

Journey map for hearing and vision disability

Solution - app

Showing linking of screens


IPD is an innovative course hosted by the Tauber Institute for Global Operations at the University of Michigan.

It is taught jointly by faculty members Eric Svaan of the Stephen M. Ross School of Business and Stephanie Tharp from the Penny W. Stamps School of Art & Design.

Student teams are multidisciplinary from the School of Information, Ross School of Business, Stamps School of Art & Design and Michigan Engineering.



We were provided initial research and overview of the problem. Our objective was to create a fully functional prototype considering the problem statement and design guidelines.

Problem Statement

Design a product suitable for use by senior adults, incorporating the use of active technology, to improve health maintenance and outcomes.

Design Guidelines

Performance: The product must function reliably.

Target demographics: senior adults, broadly defined.

Target retail price: Not more than $200

Manufacturability: Major touch surfaces must be of materials and shapes that can be fabricated by the team using equipment available in Stamps School workshops.

Testing: Prototypes will be demonstrated at the physical Trade Show for performance assessment by users, and by faculty for assembly and manufacturability compliance.

Competitive advantage: Teams should show that their device has a competitive advantage over competing products, if such products exist, in some dimension valued by target customers. 



Secondary research​​

  • Background research using Kresge Library resources

  • Internet research into pain points from aging

  • Basic understanding of target population demographics

  • Existing Products Research

Primary research ​​

  • Learnings from VentureWell Hacking Health Charrette

  • Survey for initial pain points and needs identification

  • Informational interviews with potential customers

  • Visits to Atria Park senior center, Ann Arbor, MI










Hours of



​​​​pain points identified

Framing the problem


Mission Active technology to maintain senior adults health

Target population Ages 55+


Major concerns identified

Lack of Social Engagement

Pain point identification:

Diet & Nutrition

Body Changes

Memory Loss

body changes & chronic diseases

need help with simple tasks

lack of independence


pill management

lack of social engagement

Seniors want to continue living their day-to-day lives as long as possible without being restricted by the concerns above. This includes completing daily household tasks, continued exercise and activity, and caregiving for elderly parents.

Based on the pain points identified, we wrote a "how might we" statement:

How might we ensure seniors take care of themselves while aging with vitality?

Body Changes

Diet & Nutrition

Aging with Vitality

Lack of Social Engagement

Personas & Journey Maps

Based on our research and pain points, we created 3 personas to support our ideation process




Based on pain points initially identified and personas, our team brainstormed more than two hundred ideas.


Considering the design guidelines, we came up with many different concepts. Some of the initial concepts can be seen below.


Concepts test

We interviewed 40 people between the ages of 54 to 93.

Seven concepts along with two existing products were tested and listed as followed:

1. Vacuum powered duster

2. Vertically rotating drawer

3. VR brain stimulating game

4. Wall mounted virtual calendar

5. Smart sleep mask

6. Vital tracking shirt

7. Auto buckle shoes

8. Sleep mask (competitor)

9. White noise generator (competitor)

Highest forecasted share

As seen from concept test results tabulated in the table above. Wall Calendar has the highest forecasted share of 30% followed by Auto Buckle Shoes at 27.25% and VR Game at 21.25%. During our interviews, the rotatable drawer unit is very well received, but it has lower forecasted share because most participants gave it a score of 4.

Cultural considerations

We have interviewed people from the age of 53 - 93 (with an average age of 66-year-old) from USA, Thailand, Brazil, and India with a breakdown of 42.5% male and 57.5% female. Participants were told that they can rate the products based on their desirability and assume that they can afford to buy them, but questions concerning price came up frequently.


We have noticed that participant’s gender, age, nationality, and lifestyle have a significant effect on ‘would like to buy’ scores. For example, most female participants gave the vacuum powered duster a higher score than most male participants because they clean their houses on a daily basis. Several participants in Asia and Brazil told us that they do not have a need of the vacuum powered duster and gave it a low score because it is relatively easy and cheap to hire a maid in those countries. A similar trend can be seen across all product concepts in which people who usually play games at home would give the VR Game concept higher scores and people who have trouble falling asleep would give the Smart Sleep Mask concept higher scores. 



Wall Calendar


Low fidelity prototype 


The digital wall calendar was chosen as our main concept after our second design review, where a group of experts evaluated our work during class.

Opportunities we heard during research

"My children have created a dial shortcut but I never find it."

Interview with 92 year old woman

Auto Buckle Shoes


Low fidelity working prototype (sketch C)

"I have four children but they are so busy. I always feel I call them when they are busy, and I don't want to bother them".

Interview with 70 year old man


Conjoint analysis


“Conjoint analysis can suggest not just what features consumers might want in a new product, but also how much they are willing to pay for those features.”

(Lovejoy 1998, Appendix W p.1)

Lovejoy, William S. "Integrated operations: a proposal

for operations management teaching and research."

 Production and Operations Management 7, no. 2 (1998): 106-124.

Variables considered for the conjoint analysis





LED Textile




Not capable


Letter (8.5 x 11in)

Poster (2 x 3ft)

The results from conjoint analysis drove prioritization of a simplified, larger-sized calendar made from natural materials with few bells and whistles, low price sensitivity and focus on product features.


LED Textile screen*

Poster size

(2 x 3ft)*

No calling capability

*considering our time and resources for manufacturing, we decided to focus on more "natural feel" materials instead of textiles and use a digital screen (small for cost constraints).

Problem identification

We brainstormed 75 potential problems of the product. Then, we decided what problems were more urgent to be considered during product development.


Aesthetics preferences

We considered different variables of color, materials and shape to create an online survey for the calendars. The survey was sent to our previous survey and interview participants.

Each option had a likert scale for the shape, material, color and position of the screen.


The preferred aesthetics was a clean rectangular shape, white background calendar on light wood color.

Final Prototype

MDF was laser cut. Wood laminate sheets were used for finishing. For the electronics we used LCD screen, Raspberry Pi, speakers and microphones.



Our last presentation happened once we had the fully functional prototype, manufacturing, and costing details. All teams presented their work for visitors at the Stamps Gallery in Ann Arbor, MI, o April 4, 2018.

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