User Research and Testing
Product Design Engineering
User Experience Design
A light therapy device that improves the well-being of those suffering from seasonal affective disorder.
Sol helps those who have trouble getting through the winter season. The morning light helps you get out of bed with a ‘sunrise alarm’ feature. The portable device then provides you with comfortable light to make up for the sunlight that you’re missing during the winter - fending off the winter blues and starting your days off with more energy.
I designed this device with a classmate for my Master's thesis project, as part of Northwestern University’s Engineering Design Innovation MS program.
Americans alone experience seasonal affective disorder -a form of seasonal depression caused by limited sunlight in the wintertime.
It’s not just feeling low energy. You want to tune out completely. Everything becomes grey and the color of the weather becomes the color of your mind."
Anonymous interviewee, 54 years old
In-Home Visits and User Testing
Mockups + High-Fidelity Prototyping
Competitive Landscape Analysis + Product Teardowns
Sketching + CAD
Understanding our users and their morning routines.
How can a light therapy device find a home in our users' lives?
How are competitors attempting to meet users' needs?
How can we design an intuitive, attractive device?
Understanding our users' morning routines
and unmet needs through a human-centered design process.
How can we increase people’s
receptivity and adherence to light therapy?
This led us to explore:
In-home walkthroughs, and having people draw journey maps of their morning routines gave us a
more accurate assessment of their morning routines. We explored users’ perceptions of different device form factors (e.g. glasses, shoulder-hanging lights, table lamps) through foam core prototypes.
In-Person & Remote Interviews
We gained an intimate familiarity with people’s experiences of seasonal affective disorder through
in-person interviews, phone interviews and online surveys. We interviewed people with varying degrees
of seasonal affective disorder, as well as skeptics and believers of light therapy. We employed tools including photo collages, word clouds and card sorting in our interviews.
Product Benchmarking, Product Teardowns
& Participatory Research
I disassembled competitors' devices and used a light intensity meter to learn of their components and tech specs. Creating a feature matrix with competitors'
devices helped us position our product and develop
We also adopted competitors’ devices into our
morning routines to develop empathy with light
therapy users and assess the devices’ usability.
Clinical Study Reports & Online Reviews
Reading through dozens of reports from clinical trials affirmed our belief in light therapy. These invaluable
resources dictated our device’s technical specifications, including light intensity and light wavelength.
We learned which features users tended to like and dislike, in addition to devices’ shortcomings through
Amazon reviews and secondhand marketplaces
Synthesizing our research into interesting, relevant,
and actionable insights
devices, leading users to abandon the devices before they begin to recognize positive changes
Habit development features are lacking
are the norm, especially for those that have trouble getting out of bed, which discourages people from adopting light therapy into their hurried mornings
Dynamic and busy morning routines
Misinformation and improper device usage
create skepticism towards light therapy and cause users
to give up on their devices
Obtrusive and unattractive device aesthetics
stigmatize light therapy and deter people from bringing light therapy devices into their homes or workplaces
across people’s living spaces and are typically challenging
and uncomfortable to use
Unintuitive and inflexible devices
The Morning Light
A simple, convenient light that:
1. helps you wake up, with a sunrise alarm light
2. is a transportable light therapy device, and works with your morning routine
Sol is a transportable light that you can conveniently place in any setting
Sol’s form is tastefully contemporary and elegant, to fit in across different home styles.
The round shape recalls the sun, and the body has a soft, touch-friendly texture.
Morning Routine Integration
Sol is designed to work harmoniously with your morning routine. You are free to carry the battery powered, docking light from one morning activity to the next. Clean intuitive controls, and light intensity and angle adjustments are only a touch away.
Encouraging Habit Formation
Sol adds structure to your morning, which encourages habit formation.
The light’s sunrise alarm feature helps you wake up by gently and gradually illuminating the room in morning. The Sol app syncs the alarm, can send you encouraging reminders, and provides the option to track light usage.
Sol helps you wake up with a sunrise alarm, which gently illuminates your room
Just 25 minutes of light in the morning can increase your energy in the winter
the morning light
Thinking and developing concepts physically
I created mood boards of living spaces Sol would be found in, in addition to devices and decorative objects to draw inspiration from.
the morning light
Prototypes for Sol made of foamcore, clay and 3D printed PLA