Project Type

UX Design and Research

Project Output

Interactive Prototypes of wearable app

Project Length

5 weeks


Husain Zaidi, Lucas Lazdins, Yasir Hussain, Yash Goud, Polina Castro


We were introduced to the challenge of research and to design either a wearable or mobile app that helps people understand and manage their own personal health. We decided to choose a wearable technology that is in prototype stage and is on the brink of being releasing commercially and mass adopted by existing wearables in the market, like apple watch or samsung gear. The technology adopted was a wearable sensor that can detect early symptoms of oncoming cold and will help the user take precautions and prevent it. We conducted secondary research, based on that made 3 target profiles/proto-personas and conducted a series of 10 in-person interviews from those proto-personas, and understood the needs and motivations of each person. We adopted the ORM model of IBM design thinking, and made a few revisions before reaching the final iteration.

My contribution to the project was to all stages and most of the deliverables. We came up with the concept of the app as a group, and I took the lead on project strategy and team management, and conducting all the group activities. I also produced the low fidelity wireframes and interactive prototype and helped Yash with the high fidelity wireframes as well, who was in charge of high-fi wireframes and mockups. Each member of the team was involved in major activities such as conducting research, user interviews, design iterations, usability testing etc.

Even though our concept was based on a technology that is still under works, the project was very well received by the professors and peers. However, the project still has a long way to go in terms of detailing, and there were yet a few changes that should have been incorporated from the second phase of usability testing.

Promotional Video for ‘Cold Buster’ – A Wearable App

The Challenge

Wearable sensors are an option for the future of personalized medicine. Wearable adoption is accelerating and has the potential to shift from just being a fitness device to a personal health device. Wearables, AI and Biology are sometimes referred to as a new triad for precision medicine. Can wearables accelerated an era of personalized medicine?

Research and design either a wearable or mobile app that helps people understand and manage their own personal health.

The Process

We adhered the following design process, during our Inspiration phase we conducted secondary and primary research to understand the technological possibilities and also user’s behavior, motivations and desires towards the subject of personal healthcare. During the Synthesis phase we brainstormed about what we learnt and made sense out of it, to further narrow down on user’s needs and goals. Then we explored a vast array of possible solutions during our Ideation Phase and conducted A/B testing to narrow down to one solution. At Prototyping Stage, we first tested the usability with the low-f solution with multiple users and observed their experience with it, reflected on what we observed and then went back to the drawing board to make an improved revision, which is our final revised product.

Conducting Research

“In Canada, it is estimated that 4 million people are infected with influenza resulting in 12,200 hospitalizations and 3,500 deaths. 

One billion people get a cold every year and 22 million school days are lost annually because of it.”

It is estimated that adults succumb to the infamous “infectious rhinitis” virus, more commonly known as the ‘cold’ 2-3 times per year spending 7-14 days recovering. 

Children, whose immune system have yet to fully develop, are subjected to the virus anywhere from 8-10 times per year!

Research Question

The research question we are proposing to explore is whether or not people would be motivated to take early preventative measures to avoid the full effects of a cold and speed up the recovery process – if they were notified by their smartwatch in the earlier stages of the sickness they were developing

User Interviews - Top Findings

We interviewed 10 participants and collected more than 100 pieces of feedback. We observed patterns of responses and categorized them into 3 age groups. All 3 clusters had unique and interesting answers.

Conducting interviews with user group 3 (age 20-30)

Conducting interviews with user group 2 (age 20-30)

  1. The Average age of the participants was 30, out of the 10 participants 7 identifed as male and 3 as female.
    • 4/10 of the participants used some kind of smart watch ( Fitbit, Apple smart watch ) to track heart rate, footsteps and the amount of calories they burned.
    • 3/4 of those used the default apps on their wearable to track all their data.
  2. When the others were asked why don’t they use a smart watch their response was they liked analogue watches more or there was no need for them to own a smartwatch as they did not see it as a necessity.
  3. 8/10 of the participants interviewed said falling sick was extremely frustrating.
  4. On average the participants know they are going to fall sick 2½ days before they actually fall sick, bodily signals like fatigue, nausea and headaches are a good tell of what is to follow.
  5. Symptoms were quite common across the board including fatigue, runny nose, sore throat, coughing, headaches, high temperature.
  6. 6/10 of the Participants interviewed take some kind of preventative measure these include hot such as tea or coffee other hot drinks infused with ginger and lemon, advil, Vitamin C tablets.
    • When asked if they treat it right away only 4/10 participants said they take immediate action. The rest of them try to wait it out.
  7. On average participants spend 11 days sick per year and miss 8 days of work or school.
  8. Participants spend about $125 per per year on flu related diseases.
  9. Half of them still go out whereas the other half prefer to stay at home for a faster recovery.
  10. All of them replied positively when asked would they prevent it if they could.

Synthesizing Data

Persona 1

  • Olivia is a working parent, she cherishes precious family time. She needs to stay healthy so that she doesn’t miss out on family time and taking care of them.
  • She can’t afford to miss out on work because she can’t afford unpaid leaves as her paid leaves are for planned for family holidays.
  • Olivia lives with her family, she needs a way to avoid being patient zero in her house and perpetuating the sick cycle. 
  • She needs to know about the oncoming cold so that she can prevent it or make changes to her plans accordingly – i.e. cancel her
    meetings, postpone trips.

Persona 2

  • Gabriel needs to be able to work from home when he falls sick. A single day missed at work means a lot of catching up to do the next day.
  • He needs a way to reduce his sick cycles so that he doesn’t have to miss work and lose money because of it.
  • Gabriel needs to be notified about who got the cold in his surroundings so that he can take preventative measures.
  • He needs a way to be notified beforehand or well in advance about his cold, so that even if he can’t stop it, he can coordinate with his boss at work and request to work from home in advance.

Persona 3

  • Hannah is socially active and involved, she needs to be informed early (of cold symptoms) so that she can adjust her plans.
  • Hannah needs to find a way to recover as quickly as possible so that she can get back to her workout and college routine.
  • She needs to be reminded about her upcoming events so that she can be prepared to alter her plans.
  • She needs a way to catch up with her friends without being ‘Patient Zero’ and spreading the flu to her friends.
  • Hannah needs a way to prevent the cold without having to take prescription medication.

Emergent Themes

People rely on Technology more than they say (and think) they do.

Even users of the age group 40 and above who are unlikely to adopt and rely on technology depend on it. People use weather apps to decide what they should wear or if they need an umbrella. They use google maps to checkout traffc and estimate their time of arrival. They rely on MyftnessPal to calculate caloric intake. This discovery broadens our target audience bracket and informs us that people are open to adopting new technology , as long as it adds value and makes their life easier.

Cold and Flu are highly communicable and in 40% of cases, people catch it from their surroundings.

Not only can we avoid and break the cycle of fu being carried from one patient to the other, but we can also try to inform the user about their surroundings and potentially avoid coming in contact with a user exhibiting symptoms.

Middle Age group are in the sweet spot of being tech savvy (easily adopt new technology) and health-conscious.

This Age group could be our primary target audience.

People care about getting sick! Everyone tries to prevent getting sick, regardless of their age. People of all age groups do take some actions actively or subconsciously to avoid getting the cold.

Despite people not taking direct precautionary measures like taking antibiotics or medication, people still take some precautionary steps when they exhibit the early symptoms, even if they don’t consider it – like closing the windows, choosing the warmer jacket, drinking ginger tea and sleeping more often.

Framing the Opportunity

Synthesizing our fndings from our initial discovery phase allowed us to uncover the following opportunities and their respective solutions, based on the
themes discovered after synthesizing the interview data and secondary research.

Design Thinking: Brainstorming

As a group, we brainstormed and conducted design thinking activities to spew all the ideas, no matter how small or impactful, practical or crazy they are. We listed all the ideas and based on their impact on the user, we prioritized them. The golden rule was to keep the earlier identified user needs as the benchmark, to at least be able to address those needs through our product and then find for more value-added features.

Team working on group brainstorming activities

Clustering Big Ideas

We clustered all the big ideas into similar categories

Prioritization Grid

Based on the feasibility and the value added to user needs, we prioritized the big ideas

Corresponding Features

Building from our Prioritization Grid, Big Idea Vignette and the identifed user needs, we were able to identify a

number of functions our product needs to include. For example:


Alert function
Easy Information access
Intuitive user fow
Information regarding their symptoms
Information regarding best practice & preventative measures
Physiological vitals display
Needs to be able to communicate information
Color refects level of health

Exploring Solutions

With a better understanding of our users and their needs, each team member generated their own design concepts. Rather than limiting these designs to an app specifically, we agreed that we would design an app as well as an ideal product. We did this to ensure we were uncovering as many features as possible. This allowed us to generate a broad range of concepts, elements and ideas that could be drawn from later on.

Concept 1

  • Provides the user with a minimalistic device.
  • Key features include a colored light related to the users current health status.
  • This device offers haptic feedback in the form of a vibration to alert users of any updates.

Concept 2

  • Offers users with a familiar form factor, more smartwatch features and a less cluttered interface.
  • Key features include a compact, yet fully functioning smartwatch with a layout mirroring the square interface found in most smartphones.

Concept 3

  • This concept provides users with a more subtle form factor and better ergonomics.
  • Key features include innovative interactive gestures (i.e: touch-wheel navigation).

Concept 4

  • Offers users an aesthetically appealing interface as well as a futuristic design.
  • Key functions include a liquid display that goes around the wrist, combined with the versatile functions of a smartphone.

Paper Prototype: A/B Testing

As a group we decided to conduct AB Testing with our fnal 2 design concepts. We chose to compare Concept 1 and Concept 2 as they’re both feasible and follow a conventional design. We tested our A and B models through paper prototyping to get user feedback about the initial concepts. Conducting user testing to match the real world scenario (prototype on user’s wrist) really put our concepts into perspective of how user’s will interact with it.

We did A/B usability testing to test the initial concepts, with paper prototypes.

Final Solution

Majority of the participants preferred interacting with the Concept 2, watch interface instead of the band. They liked the familiar interface and bigger display to interact with. Hence, We decided to move forward with Concept 2. We went with a conventional app, which is compatible with a variety of smart watches. This solution looks to combine key features highlighted in the other concepts.

The end result came together through collaborative efforts, resulting in a product consisting of various design elements from various design concepts. Rather than designing a new smartwatch for the app, we designed an app that makes use of existing platforms. We added key features such as a colored light display meant to highlight users current health status. The interface provides a clean and simple display offering a higher level of organization. We agreed that the fnal solution does the best job of addressing user needs as well as product and business goals

Low-Fidelity Wireframes

Majority of the paritipants preferred interacting with the Concept 2, watch interface instead of the band. They liked the familiar interface and bigger display to interact with. Hence, We decided to move forward with Concept 2. We went with a conventional app, which is compatible with a variety of smart watches. This solution looks to combine key features highlighted in the other concepts.

Usability Testing

 We wanted to test our first digital iteration, to get user feedback and know if we’re on the right track, or rather by how much we’re off track. We adopted IBM’s model of design thinking, The loop! After making our first iteration, through usability testing we were to observe the user’s impression of our first iteration, and then we would reflect on it and go back to the drawing board and make the second iteration, Cold Buster 2.0!

Scenario 1: Onboarding (10mins)

You have received an Apple watch for Christmas. As you navigate the watch you come across a rather interesting app called Cold Buster. You open the app and are greeted by the pixel-perfect Cold Buster logo. With a peaked interest, you begin the onboarding process.

Scenario 2: Getting a notification alert (7 mins)

You are going about your daily routine equipped with your new Apple watch. You’ve been feeling sluggish, but you think it’s because of the gloomy weather. Then suddenly you feel
your watch vibrate, you look at it and see a “notifcation alert” showing you that your temperature is rising.

Scenario 3: Activity Tracking (7 mins)

You’ve been working on improving your fitness by walking more and going to the gym at least twice a week. And you want to track your activity metrics for the last month. Starting from the home screen of the app, how would you go about reviewing your activity history.

Design Thinking model: The Loop by IBM

Participant performing usability test on the interactive prototype

Usability Test Feedback

Following Key Issues were identified with the usability Testing on Low-Fi wireframes.

  • On-boarding tutorial was not efficient.
  • All three participants found the descriptions of the individual icons very hard to read.
  • As a result of missing important part of the tutorial, two of the users didn’t understand that they needed to fill out their profle before they can use the app.
  • Users found it difficult to toggle between ‘week’ and ‘day’ view in the Activities page.
  • Users found clicking to go back and swiping to go up/down to be inconsistent.
  • Users found it difficult to make sense of the body vitals information.

ColdBuster 2.0!


  • Aligned the navigation gestures from a combination of Chevron and Swipe Bar to only Swipe gestures.
  • Added a textual pinned notifcation on homepage about health status.
  • Redesigned the tutorial and better calibration cue for frst time users.
  • Easy-to-Understand health summary before body vitals information.
  • Gamifcation experience with Health Streak reward system.
  • Added ‘Daily’ and ‘Monthly’ view with better interface elements on Activity Tracker page.
  • Improved User Interface with bigger elements and added colors

High Fidelity Wireframes

Carousel shows the revised user flow and updated user interface elements

User Feedback: ColdBuster 2.0

Since there was no facility to have users play with ColdBuster on a smartwatch, we decided to go ahead with an interactive prototype displayed at 1:1 scale to that of a smartwatch, on a mobile phone. We used Adobe XD to create the interactive prototype. This enabled the participants to play with the ColdBuster app wirelessly.

Participant performing usability test on the interactive prototype

  • Users liked the overall feel and navigation of the app, but stated that the onboarding procedure, more specifically the tutorial, needs to be improved – simple and concise is best.
  • Information retrieval, more specifically the graph which communicates activity history, needs to display clear and obvious feedback.
  • Consistency across app navigation was also addressed. Users prefer one method of navigation rather than a mixed-method approach. For example, users would prefer swipe to navigate controls, then drag navigation bars and click chevrons.
  • Users wanted haptic feedback as well along with ring light and called out its absence.
  • Users did not find the application interface to be too cluttered.
  • The instructions for onboarding and required and information inputs were all very straightforward and easy to understand.
  • Users did agree that app like this would very easily become an integral part of their daily routine and lifestyle.

ColdBuster 2.0 prototype video showing the micro-interactions in live