the morning light
We bring together the diverse stakeholders involved
in the product development process - from industrial designers and branding teams, to mechanical engineers
and manufacturing engineers.
This allows us to work with clients and make informed decisions quickly and effectively, focusing resources on
the concepts most likely to achieve customer
experience goals at the product level.
Sol, The Morning Light
Human-Centered Product Design
Master's Thesis Project
Sol is a light therapy device that improves the well-being of those suffering from seasonal affective disorder. The morning light helps you wake up 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 day 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.
Here at Maestro, we use robust processes to reduce risk in
the product development process. We are intentional about maintaining the product's design intent, from product definition through to product launch.
We are inspired by the experiences that well-designed products can offer all of us. Our process focuses on capturing and maintaining products' design intent as they are developed into real products.
we are committed to crafting products that are experience-driven - by capturing and maintaining the product's intended
We are inspired by the experiences that well designed products can offer all of us, and we are committed to crafting products that are experience-driven - by capturing and maintaining the product's intended
We are inspired by the experiences that products can offer all of us, and we are committed to crafting products that
We are committed to carefully capturing the , maintai
Establishing performance and design metrics early in the design process allows stakeholders to make informed decisions quickly and effectively, focusing resources on the concepts most likely to achieve customer experience goals at the product level. This process allows the team to maintain consistency throughout development of user needs, specifications, and continuing development efforts
Primary Research & User Testing
In-person and remote interviews
In-home visits & user testing with mockups
Product benchmarking and product tear-downs
Clinical reports research
Competitive product landscape analysis
Ideation & Prototyping
Research synthesis and insight generation
Sketching, clay modeling and CAD modeling
Low fidelity foam core mockups
High fidelity 3D printed works-like prototyping
What is SAD?
16 million 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
Luckily, there's help!
Light therapy has been proven as an effective treatment
for seasonal affective disorder by dozens of clinical trials conducted since the 80s.
How does light therapy work?
In short, light therapy provides your eyes with the sun that
your body is missing out on during the winter. This light realigns your circadian rhythm, which in turn improves your mood and increases your energy levels.
We found that current devices are unattractive and inconvenient, and a stigma surrounds seasonal affective disorder.
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 low fidelity foam core prototypes.
How can we increase people’s
receptivity and adherence to light therapy?
This led us to ask:
In-Person & Remote Interviews
We gained an intimate familiarity of people’s experiences
with 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 our product requirements.
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’ common failures by exploring Amazon reviews and secondhand marketplaces like Craigslist.
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
We designed and built a functioning, high-fidelity
prototype of Sol.
Sol is a transportable light that you can conveniently place in any setting
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
Sol’s form is tastefully modern 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.
Thinking and developing concepts physically
Prototypes for Sol made of foamcore, clay and 3D printed PLA
I created mood boards of living spaces Sol would be found in, in addition to devices and decorative objects to draw inspiration from.