Project Type: Research, Prototyping, User Testing, Interaction Design

an integrated system connecting long-distance caregivers to the individuals they care for.

My Role

This project allowed me to step into multiple roles. I had a hand in all stages of the process including research, prototyping, user testing, and design. My primary role was visual & interaction design.


Premera Blue Cross


Fall 2018


Cassie Meade
Khai  Nguyen
Mengxaio Song


Adobe XD
Adobe CC
Paper Prototypes

The Challenge

Create a design solution that aides primary caregivers in their daily responsibilities within the context of aftercare.

It is estimated that there are more than 40 millions unpaid caregivers in the US. Unpaid caregivers do not receive adequate attention from healthcare providers when compared to care recipients. Consequently, they face many emotional and logistical challenges during their caregiving process; many of which remain unnoticed.

Long-distance caregivers face a unique set of problems which make their daily care-giving responsibilities tricky. How can we design a solution that fosters the feelings of connectivity between long-distance care givers and those they look after to help combat the emotional burdens faced by long-distance care givers?

The Response

The Bettersense system is designed to help individuals in the role of being a long-distance caregiver have better and more meaningful connections with the loved ones they look after.Bettersense is a system of devices that help to facilitate meaningful and personalized communication
between long-distance caregivers and the individuals they look after through the use of ambient data.

The Process

This section explores the process behind the solution BetterSense.  The project kicked off with research efforts to better understand the user and their needs. It then moved into ideation and then to prototyping and user testing.


Research Methods

User Interviews

I conducted several interviews with current long distance caregivers to gain a better understanding of the challenges they face on a daily basis.

Research Probe

As a team, we designed a research probe activity kit that gave us value insight into what it means emotionally to be be a long-distance caregiver.

Literature Review

We read and reviewed articles and journals that gave us even more insight into our primary audience, the long-distance caregiver.

Research Insights

Long-distance caregivers have more emotional concerns than on-site caregivers

Care activities often revolve around financial managements and medications

Care often require local supports

Typical care activities includes information gathering, health monitoring, and provide long distance support

Crisis-driven; cannot follow closely with the care recipients


Following the research phase we dove into ideation using several techniques like mind mapping and brainstorming activities. This yielded 90 possible concepts to explore. We were able to down select these ideas from 90 to 20 by group similar ideas together and getting rid of the less feasible ones with the goal of narrowing it down to 3 possible directions.

Aligning ideas with research insights

As we moved through down selection, we wanted to make sure our ideas were aligned with the insights we had discovered during the research phase of the project.

To do this we set up a decision making matrix where we rated each of our 20 concepts to answer six down selection criteria question. From here we identified the 3 strongest concepts to move forward with.

Strongest Concepts

Warm your hand pillow

A pillow that allows caregivers and care receivers to feel connected through messages sent with a hug

Warm your hand pillow

An app that helps long-distance caregivers keep  track of all of the ins and outs of being a caregiver

Warm your hand pillow

A system of sensors that use machine learning to asses an individuals daily routine and spot abnormalities

Giving an idea context

As a team, we each designed a contextual storyboard for our three strongest concepts. I designed the story board below to give situational context to the daily routine tracker concept.

We moved forward into prototyping and user testing with this concept.

Prototyping & User Testing

Wireframing & Low-fi Paper Prototyping

We designed wireframes for three key paths we wanted to explore with users within this concept. We recruited users through a screen form sent out to a neighborhood forum. We were looking to test specifically with users who identified as long-distance caregivers.

The prototype tests allowed us to identify several areas that could be improved upon to create and better user experience overall.

Key Path #1

Explore how a user might place and activate the sensors

Key Path #2

Explore how a user selects, decides and set up criteria for sensor notifications through the application

Key Path #3

Explore the sequence of steps for checking notifications and resolving them

Low-Fi Testing Insights

Our participants didn’t read the sensor set up instructions. This lead to problems during setup and activation of the product

There was a disconnect surrounding the  what exactly the sensors do and what they monitor

The activity insight graphs were confusing to nearly all users we tested with

Setting up notification criteria was confusing for a number of the users we tested with

Pivot Point

Following the paper prototype users tests we discovered that our current solution was not aligned with some key points from our research. This lead us to a big pivot moment within the project. Our solution was missing an element that would allow us to successfully tackle some of the emotional issues long-distance caregivers were facing.

We went back to the drawing board and combined two of our three strong concepts together.  We combined the warm your hand pillow with the daily routine sensor to create BetterSense.


The two concepts combined resulted in a lamp that helps to facilitate communication between two individuals by using ambient data collected by the motion sensors to inform each user when the other person is home indicating times that would be good for communication. The sensors also provide users with a breakdown of data that allow them to make decisions about communication if they notice low activity levels from a user.

This concept is best illustrated through a user flow (below) using long-distance caregiver Amanda as an example.

Creating the BetterSense Visual Identity

As the lead visual and interaction designer on this project, I was tasked with creating the visual identity of BetterSense. The brand needed to capture four core elements that are at the heart of BetterSense:

Movement driven insights

Motion is a big aspect of the Bettersense brand and is represented through photography and brand elements.

Freedom from emotional burdens

The branding aims to create a space that invites users to leave their emotional burdens at the door as they use the Bettersense system to have more meaningful connection with each other.

Fulfilling connection across distance

Imagery will be used to capture the feelings of fulfillment of users as they use the Bettersense products.

Peace of mind

Giving users peace of mind surrounding their loved one’s care is a pivotal principle of the brand.

Hi-Fi Prototyping & Testing

Following the pivot point. We moved into testing the high fidelity prototype. Tests were conducted utilizing a wizard of oz method. Users were seeing the screens on an iPhone that was connected to a hidden computer where I was manually moving them through screens to give them a real-time experience.

Next Steps for BetterSense

At the end of the 12 week period working with Premera Blue Cross, my team presented our work to designers and executives at their headquarters. Premera was intrigued by our concept, especially the applications beyond the world of caregiving. Below are the next steps I would take with this project.

Create a hi-fi physical prototype of the BetterSense Home Kit.

I would want to ideate on forms for the final design of the home kit and find a form that fits with the products goals.

In-home testing with the BetterSense Home Kit

I would test the product in the homes of caregivers to better understand it’s applications and limitations and tweak the design as needed.

Bring the product to market

Bringing this product to market would be the final step.