Cue


UX & UI Design, Design Research, Prototyping
Student work, Master’s Thesis, 2021

Cue is a communication app that compliments a current care system by informing and simplifying conversations for meaningful connections among those caring for or those associated with individuals diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.





Insight

Why alzheimer’s?


In 2020, the pandemic shown a light on a broken care system, impacted those who are 65 and older the most, reducing contact among family and friends.

According to research, the leading death in the United States is Alzheimer’s. As the population continues to age, the disease will increase. Past treatments have been a one-size-fits-all approach and it’s time to take a more personalized approach as everyone is unique.

In 2016, someone close to me was officially diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. In previous years, she was showing symptoms. Experiencing such hardship has shown me the frustrations of older adults and the growing concern of the disease. These stigmas can be reduced, causing unnecessary anxieties and depression around aging and medical conditions.


︎︎︎ Recent news articles from The Atlantic and NY Times

Resarch

Assumptions


︎︎︎How can we meaningfully connect families and friends to those diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in an enriching manner?

︎︎︎What is our best avenue towards building a positive social engagement experience?

︎︎︎What will a post-virus world look like for the aging?

︎︎︎ What does the market want in this space?

Quality of Life Ecosystem

Hypothesis

Is this true?


Providing resources and a support service with the app, we will increase awareness on memory loss and deliver a personalized, helpful and exciting method of communication.

In order to find out if this is true/false, I needed a strong validation. To jumpstart conversations, a mobile concept paper prototype was used while interviewing participants to stimulate a conversation and gather feedback quickly. Some of my assumptions were quickly validated and the simple tests helped identify problems early, saving time for the next phases of design.

Feedback and usability tests

Starting early on with user testing, there were unique challenges to consider while addressing Alzheimer’s. There was a rigorous set of criteria to begin testing and to ensure a thorough process towards a broader range of inclusion for the aging.

︎︎︎ The feedback from the paper prototype indicated how a home page, personalized content and video interactions could be improved.


Various iterations were tested as the ideas and designs kept evolving. Committing to a core set of features for the MVP became the greatest challenge.

Idea

Solutions


I focused on educating and giving carers the information they need to take action. I was able to highlight these essential features:

Educational content and support ︎︎︎

With the increase of an aging population and carers lacking adequate services and support, it was important that the educational content and support benefit both the carers and companions specific needs.

With the community feature, the carer can find helpful articles on the physical, emotional and financial strains of caregiving and reach out to the community for additional support.



Cues ︎︎︎  

Using methods from Cognitive Stimulative Therapy, the cues aim to provide personalized, structured conversations and activities that can improve brain activity.



Digital biomarker ︎︎︎

A digital biomarker helps to provide a more comprehensive look at the health of the individual. The mood indicator can help navigate and better communication. Quick access to personalized cues to help start and aid conversation.




Stages of Alzheimer’s are different for everyone and monitoring social activity can help combat loneliness.

Lessons learned

Reflections


This project was really exciting as it provided real value to users, as well as research & experimental design work in this process for me. The scope of the project was constantly changing and I had to learn how to adapt and re-prioritize quickly. There’s a lot to explore and consider in accessibility and inclusion which made it difficult to focus on a core set of features for the MVP.

Rethinking accessibility

The smartphone has become an essential tool for many. My experience with this project helped to realize a world where everyone can benefit from technological advances in health. I feel as though this is only the beginning of a new frontier in accessing complex health solutions.

Tricia Gray is a designer & developer based in NYC, previously at Smart Design︎. Read more




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