Ripples – Helping people regain control of their sleep.
5 month user-oriented design project course at the University of Oslo.
Project overview
During Covid me and 4 other interaction design students were tasked with creating a physical prototype that would appeal to a specific users needs. The goal was to find a real user and through interviews, need analysis, prototyping and user testing, solve one or more of their issues. The prototype needed to be created using an Arduino unit, using an interaction medium other than displays, buttons and touchscreens.
We wanted to focus on sleep, and how to help people regain control when bad sleep habits takes over. Working closely with our core user, we uncovered the user needs and difficulties, and worked towards creating an alarm clock that would lead to better sleep.
The process was heavily limited by covid, as none of us were in the same city to create the prototype at the time. Instead we each prototyped a part of the solution, which we put together in a video demonstrating the intended functionality.
Link to project
👱‍♂️ My role
Worked alongside 4 other Interaction Design students in every phase of the design process, with extra responsibility for:
– Illustrations and high fidelity prototype.
– Group branding and presentations.
– Final project video.
– The lighting component of the final prototype.
📚 Course
IN1060 – Use Oriented Design
At the University of Oslo.
A course about how users drive design decisions, where students have to create a digital prototype for a user group.
🔨 Tools used
Arduino, Adobe Illustrator, Indesign

Final prototype
Video Prototype (Norwegian)
Since we couldn't put the prototype together in person we had to simulate the functionality by putting it together in a video.
Project starting point
Finding the problem area
Starting off we did several rounds of mind mapping and brainstorming before we landed on the topic of sleep. Sleep disturbances are extremely common, and a group that is particularly vulnerable are young adults. Your 20s are often defined by a flurry of changes and shifting responsibilities. In the balancing act of school, work, friends, workouts and chores, "getting to bed at 10" is quickly one that loses out.
Target demographic
Based on this we decided on the following demographic:
· Young adults aged 20-25
· Have set responsibilities like school and/or work
· Don't have young children
· Live by themselves
· Have sleep disturbances not linked to medical conditions like insomnia or sleep apnea.
In short, someone with sleep patterns that are mostly within their zone of influence.
Problem statement
"Sleep is an essential part of everyone's day to day. At the same time it is an abstract process that is hard to control. Paradoxically the harder you try to sleep, the less likely it gets. Ripples wishes to give our core user a tool to help gain control of their sleep quality"
Project planning
Early on we got together to set some milestones for the project: first prototype, interview with users, evaluation etc. This was used throughout to gauge our progress.
Research and analysis
Initial research
To gain a good initial understanding of sleep, we contacted a sleep expert. A retired psychologist who specialised in the treatment of sleep disorders. Some key insights were:
· Sleep is driven by two biological processes: 
    · Our internal clock that dictates when it is time to get sleepy.
    · Sleep pressure, a feeling of sleepiness that builds up throughout the day.
· Light is important in dictating our sleep patterns. The warmth, brightness and timing of when and where we are exposed to light affects the calibration of our internal clock.
· For young adults a common problem is that their internal clock shifts of-base, often because of late night routine that interferes with the aforementioned processes like: playing video games, staying up too late and using their phone in bed.
To solve this the sleep expert suggested a night time routine. Non-stimulating actions done close to bedtime done with consistency can act like a "sleep signal", telling your body it is ready for bed.
User research
For our user research we were each tasked to interview one person each. We chose a semi-structured interview, and each interview was recorded and transcribed so that they could be used in a thematic analysis, trying to find common themes for each person's experiences with sleep.
We then took each theme and insight from the thematic analysis across all interviews in an affinity diagram, trying to find similarities and patterns. What we found was:
· Key themes across users were: sleep misconceptions, morning routines, nightly routines, consequences of sleep and sleep measures.
· All the users saw sleep as important, and that bad sleep had a significant impact on their life. Common concerns were how it affected their performance at work/school, and how it affected their mood.
· Users had problems both falling asleep, and waking up, often connected with a lot of screen time during the morning/night and snoozing alarms in the morning.
· The individual users needs varied greatly, some people had "bad" routines and fell asleep promptly, while others put great efforts into their routines and still had issues.
The key problem we observed was that in light of what our domain expert told us, a lot of our users had less than optimal sleep hygiene and routines.
Our core user
Since sleep is so individual, it is hard to make a one size fits all solution. Instead of accommodating everyone, our focus was solving this users specific problems. One user in particular represented a lot of the issues we had observed. Their main issues were:
· Stressful thoughts about work and school kept them from falling asleep.
· Their lack of sleep then fed into worried thoughts about their performance.
· Nightly and morning routines characterised by a lot of screen time to reduce stress.
· Snoozing alarms several times, and being stuck in bed while scrolling social media.
The core need and underlying need we deducted from this was

· A need for control stemming from the feeling that their sleep patterns were out of their zone of influence.
· An underlying need to perform. Our users want to perform well in their school and work activities, something that puts a lot of pressure on waking up on time, and on getting enough sleep to feel well rested.
Concept, prototyping and evaluation
Concept and form
To inform the concept and shape of our solution, we again chose the concept of control. The user had told us that during certain seasons they let the sun wake them up. Light exposure is directly tied to our sleep patterns, and with the invention of artificial light we as humans have been able to extend our waking hours far into the night. While phones and other artificial light can be the reason our sleep schedule is off, our solution would use light to regain that control.
Low fidelity sketches.
We started out drawing some concepts on paper that we could use to communicate our ideas to the user. What we were trying to address was:

· Establishing a routine that involved creating sleep signals before bed.
· Getting the user off their phone by restraining it, and allowing audio playback through the device for relaxation and background noise.
· Using light as a way to wake the user up.
· Getting the user up and out of bed.
Low fidelity evaluation
To get our user involved as early as possible, we had a follow up interview looking at these sketches. What we found was:

· The device needs to be small enough to fit on a nightstand and be portable.
· They did not want to be forced into doing something, but rather get an incentive to get up.
· The sun and light was essential for our user to wake up.
· The user was willing to put their phone away, but only in such a way that it was still available in an emergency.
· In addition to light, they needed some kind of alarm to wake up.
Mid fidelity sketches.
For the mid fidelity we wanted to focus on limiting the scope to what had the most impact, and was realistic to create with the Arduino unit. I created a set of stylised illustrations to communicate our vision to the user.
In the first iteration we based it around the smart speaker design, however this shape might wrongfully communicate smart functionalities that weren't there. Because of this we changed the shape to a ball, mimicking the sun, and playing into our form-concept.
At this part in the process our user was not available for evaluation, so we did the design choices we thought were best with data from the previous interview and evaluation.
Since sleep is such an intangible process, we wanted to focus on clear achievable goals. Our user said they usually could get out of bed after sitting up in bed. Therefore the main focus on our device is to get the user sitting upright using movement based interaction.
The user locks their phone away at night, only turning off the light once the phone is in. At this point they can listen to relaxing audio to fall asleep, and in the morning the light slowly lights up. If the user wakes up from the light, they can access their phone within the grace period by sitting upright, triggering a sensor. If they don't, the alarm is going to go off at the specified wake up time.
Physical/video prototype
For the physical prototype we created each module separately with an Arduino unit. Because of covid we were separated, but each module was created to be able to be integrated when we got together. The 5 modules consisted of the alarm clock, movement sensor, audio playback, phone lock and wakeup light.
Video prototype evaluation
The intention behind the video prototype was to communicate the use context and intended interaction to the user. We did another semi-structured interview over Zoom and found the following:
· Relaxing audio is not enough, they needed rich audio like podcasts so that they were semi engaged.
· Having the light blink when the alarm goes of was too much, as the audio is usually enough.
· The shape and form language of the lamp was nice, and reminded them of the sun.
· Seems like something they'd use in the weekdays, but not in the weekends.
Light evaluation
One thing we wanted to evaluate was wether the light and timer would work, and whether the light was enough to wake our user up. As they were only available digitally, we asked someone else within the target demographic to use the light and log their experience each night. What we found out was:
· 4/5 days the user reported waking up from the light without an alarm.
· The clock works, and the light starts at the right time.
· However, unsure of the exact timing, since the brightening sequence is 30 minutes.
· It was more pleasant to wake up with the light, than an alarm.
Creating and measuring a real impact for the project was really hard because of the pandemic. To address our user's unique problem, we wanted to involve our core user as closely as possible. With us being separate for most of the process, and without physical access to the user and use context, it made it hard to properly put the device to the test.
However, the learning experience was invaluable, and creating something tangible instead of wireframes and webdesign really widened the horizon of what an interaction designer can work on.
In addition, a startup entrepreneur contacted us after the project and showed interest in the concept. In an interview with her I talked about the things we learnt from the process and shared the material we had gathered. Now some time later, the Calm Clock with a lot of the same ideas and concepts as our prototype will be available in the market.
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