The Integrated Product Development 2017 challenged students to design and produce an item suitable to be worn routinely in daily life, incorporating the use of active technology, responsive to user needs in an innovative way.


I was leading the UX Design Research and Prototype Development on the team.

Identify the Problem Space

I designed and oversaw the team’s Human Centered Design approach to problem space research, using qualitative and quantitative methods which led to the identification of a major issue of personal safety faced by students on the University of Michigan campus and multiple effective solution options.

Research Insights

I identified the most-desired product ideas and features by utilizing modern marketing methods of conjoint analysis, use-case studies, concept testing, card sorting, price sensitivity analysis, competitive analysis and by designing several online user surveys which allowed the analysis of the quantitative data from over 100 respondents.

I also identified the primary and secondary users of the product and contributed to the creation of Personas.

Solution Design

Along with my team members I brainstormed to design the best possible solution to the problem. I created low fidelity prototypes of the SoSafe mobile application and designed the interaction flow of the screens.

Technical Research & Development

I learned to hardwire and program Arduino processors and components to assist with physical product realization for a physical trade show demonstration.

I also developed the product website using HTML/CSS, successfully conveying complex product features to users; resulting in 801 product purchases in an online simulated marketplace (online tradeshow). VIEW THE PRODUCT WEBSITE HERE

Prototype Validation


I designed use case scenarios and conducted the usability test of our works like and looks like model with primary users which led to validating our assumptions and refinement of our design.



I directed the user research process and communicated the findings to my multidisciplinary team members such that we would achieve the project goals.
I led the entire web development of our product website and strategized the design such that it would be easily accessible and usable.
I collaborated with the Chief Creative Officer on our team to ensure that we maintained cohesion between the style guides of printed posters and online media (for the online and physical tradeshow).
I also collaborated with the Chief Executive Officer on our team for creating the product development road map such that it would be in sync with the project goals.


Create an affordable, discrete yet reliable solution

After conducting extensive in-depth user interviews of University of Michigan's students, police, Ann Arbor police, parents and SAPAC (Sexual Assault Prevention and Awareness Center) it was discovered that the highly prevalent and most underreported personal safety issue on campus is sexual assault.

From our desk research we found that out of 3.6 million sexual assault cases in the USA, only 2.9 got reported (Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Bureau of Justice Statistics, Rape and Sexual Victimization Among College-Aged Females, 1995-2013 (2014)).

Also we learned that most sexual assault cases occurred when both the parties were intoxicated and where the person who committed the crime was known by the victim.

We realized that in such scenarios, the users could possibly need something to avoid becoming the victim. The challenge here was to design an affordable, reliable and discrete solution which would allow the users to be social and safe at the same time.

War Room



Behavioral User Research

Ethnographic Research included observations and face to face interviews of people in their natural environments like the university libraries, colleges, restaurants and homes. This was mainly useful to gain insights into different problems that people faced on campus.

After analyzing the qualitative data from the interviews and observations using an affinity wall we discovered the common trend related to the problem of personal safety on campus and decided to further explore it.

Attitudinal User Research

In-depth user interviews and email surveys of students, police, parents and SAPAC highlighted the fact that sexual assault was a highly prevalent crime on campus. It also helped us understand how these people perceive safety on campus, if they would be interested in a personal wearable for safety and features they desired that it would have.

We carried out one-on-one in person and online concept testing of the designed solution with multiple participants, to determine if it met the needs of the target audience.

Major Takeaways were:
Many users don’t want to purchase a device just for policing their behavior.
Many users want a device that provides flexibility of wear (wear with any outfit and any occasion, reusable).
Discreteness and reliability were two other key desires.

Competitive Analysis

We identified our competitors in the personal safety products space and evaluated their strategies to determine their strengths and weaknesses relative to those of our own product. This helped us understand that our product was unique as it had the soft alert, auto trigger and movement sensor feature.

Conjoint Analysis

We created 14 sample cards using different variations of the above-mentioned features and asked 30 respondents to sort the cards in order of preference to buy the product. The results were than analyzed to identify the customer’s willingness to pay for each of these features.

From this analysis we found that:
Customers would pay $35 to lower the weight of the device by ~4oz.
Customers place high value of $56 on the multi-design device over a simple designed device.
WTP for GPS and Audio recording is $45 and $16 respectively.
Customers value GPS feature thrice as much as audio recorder.

Reverse Brainstorming

We used the reverse brainstorming technique to come up with 100 potential problems in our designed solution. Further we voted for the top five problems that we felt were the most serious per us.

The top 5 potential problems with our solution was Trust Issues, BAC Accuracy, False Positive and True Negatives, Battery Life and Charger, Cost & Aesthetics


Physical Product Realization

We used Arduino processor and components to prototype the designed solution. We attended Maker Works Arduino workshop to learn the basics and for further technical and material guidance we consulted Ji Qi from MIT Media Lab.


User Insights

User interviews show that females aged 18-26 like the device (ALL females liked SoSafe).
Police see potential; however, users were concerned about the reliability of getting help.

Features Insights

Sound alarm is highly desired.
Students highly prized features that are useful in large social situations.
Device should be lightweight.
Many users wanted the device to have Emergency Blue Light connectivity.


Design Insights

Most users want a design with different aesthetically styled looks and ability to wear anywhere.
SoSafe should be small and discreet.


From our user research we identified our target users and created personas as below.


We identified the main scenarios where SoSafe could be used by our target users.


So finally we decided on a few critical features for the implementation of our MVP (minimum viable product). Thus, our product - SoSafe was designed to be a small wearable that empowered users to overcome issues of personal safety by leveraging support from their close social networks.

The device could be worn underneath clothing or in pockets and can be activated discreetly. It would link to the user’s phone for customizing their support network that they want notified if in a dangerous or uncomfortable situation. By wearing it, we hoped that the users would feel connected and confident when out and about.



We performed a usability test of the initial looks like product prototype to see how the users would interact with it and get feedback from them with respect to weight, material texture, size and ease of clicking the button.


From the feedback we got from our users, we refined the looks like product prototype to make it design neutral, sleek, light weight, water resistant and a button that cannot be easily clicked by mistake.

The final works like prototype of SoSafe can be viewed below.



The biggest challenge I faced throughout this project was scoping down the identified problem space , balancing moving forward with project deadlines, whilst collaborating with the multidisciplinary team. Since this project touched every part of a human centered design process right from the concept to product prototype development, I needed to coordinate with my team members to ensure that they would understand the human centered design approach that we were following at each stage of the project. This was hard.

So we used a project scoring model to rank the various problems that we had identified on campus, this model helped us select the problem that we wanted to solve, based on our skill sets and interest.

Managing feedback was even more challenging because it felt like a swinging pendulum of viewpoints. The team spent a disproportional amount of time debating design decisions.

As a team it was challenging to come to a consensus on the features that would go in to our MVP. I created a priority chart for all our identified features and asked the team members to rank them. This way we could pick the primary and secondary features of our product. Also from a technology standpoint I would advise the team about which features could not be implemented in the given project time frame.



This was a simulated online market place where people were given $150 and asked to vote in a fair and objective manner.
The results of the online trade show can be viewed here.


Finally the day arrived where we had to give a demonstration of our functional prototypes and looks like model.
The results of the physical trade show can be viewed here.



It is difficult to please all type of users

Throughout this project the product design (looks like) evolved from being an ear ring, hairband, bracelet to making it as a clip-on device which could be worn in various ways.
Following a participatory design research process, I could identify that different users had different preferences about the style, color and texture. Hence keeping the final looks like prototype as design neutral seemed liked the way to go.

Technology and Cost constraints does limit prototyping

The functional prototype involved a heavy use of Arduino processor and components. I realized that there were few feature ideas which could not be implemented in the prototype due to limitations of cost of sensors and existing technology.

Being the only HCI expert on the team can be difficult

There were times when the other team members thought it was quicker and cheaper to build the prototype *that* way. I did find it challenging to convince the importance of our user centric design approach so that we could launch a more reliable, intuitive and polished product prototype.