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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

Secondary Research

  • Clinical reports research

  • Competitive product landscape analysis


Ideation & Prototyping

  • Research synthesis and insight generation

  • User mapping

  • Mood boarding

  • 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

Sunny, happy.png

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.

Sunny, curious_edited.png
Sunny, sad.png


We found that current devices are unattractive and inconvenient, and a stigma surrounds seasonal affective disorder.

In-Home Visits

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:

Research Methods​


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.

Journal paper.png


Synthesizing our research into interesting, relevant,

and actionable insights

                                                                                  in current

devices, leading users to abandon the devices before they begin to recognize positive changes

disgusted final.png
anxious final.png

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

                                                                    .don’t work

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

Design Principles

& Features

Approachable Appearance

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.

Front face.jpg

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

SAD Light Therapy Mood Board, Living Spa
SAD Light Therapy Mood Board,
SAD Light Therapy Mood Board,

Mood Boarding

I created mood boards of living spaces Sol would be found in, in addition to devices and decorative objects to draw inspiration from.

Decorative Objects

Living Spaces


Front face.jpg


the morning light

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