flō: tDCS Wearable for Consumers
Kaleidoscope introduces flō, a tDCS wearable design concept that perks you up at low energy times of the day as an alternative to caffeine.
Kaleidoscope designers developed a concept to leverage transcranial Direct Current Stimulation (tDCS) technology as an everyday consumer product to help provide attentiveness and mental focus.
A form of neurostimulation, tDCS is a method of delivering a low current to the brain area via electrodes attached to the scalp. As early as 1801, it was used to treat patients with “melancholy.” With advances in fMRI that allow for monitoring, this technology has seen a resurgence recently. Today, tDCS applications exist to help provide attentiveness in the gaming industry, in addition to versions for the home healthcare market.1,2,3
Creating a market-winning wearable design requires a complex relationship between functionality and form factor to balance technology and the user’s needs. Sensors, wireless electronics, a battery and an intuitive user interface must be considered to create a truly meaningful wearable.
Plus, with the newness of the tDCS technology to the market, the product needed to convey an approachable appearance that blends into the user’s lifestyle and to enhance adoption in the consumer marketplace.
Our user-centered design process starts with a detailed research plan to dive into users’ needs. The plan included both secondary and primary research and a competitive analysis of the current wearable market. The insights and findings helped us understand the struggles and unmet needs of users. This led to the creation of design personas and consumer journey maps to visually communicate their pain points throughout their day.
Next, design themes were developed to visually describe users’ expectations and preferences. Design language was derived from the theme boards, including specific design elements such as color use, form approach, detailing, materials and textures. These aspects define the way a product looks, feels and interacts with the user, as well as the desired impressions, feelings and emotions it evokes.
As part of our Kaleidoscope innovation processes, the personas, customer journey maps and design boards were used next for brainstorming workshops, sketching, prototyping and concept refinement.
Design Personas and Customer Journey Maps
“Our user-centered design process starts with getting to know our user’s daily routines to identify their pain points. Creating personas allows us to identify with users and see life through their lens. They are composites of actual users studied in primary and secondary research and combined with their journey map, help reveal insights into creating a fulfilling experience. Brit, for example, experiences several low-energy points throughout her day, called out with blue points in the customer journey map. Understanding context, the when, where and why these points exist leads to opportunity areas to design against.”
– Karl Vanderbeek, Kaleidoscope Associate Creative Director of Industrial Design
Kaleidoscope created flō, a wearable design concept that provides focus during low-energy times of the day. It also provides daily activity monitoring to identify trends and will alert you when you may want a non-caffeinated bump.
Most of all, flō provides an excellent user-centered design example of how the best innovation starts with the users’ needs and ends with a delighted consumer.
1. This case study is a concept and does not make any claims as to the effectiveness of tDCS technologies.
2. PBS News Hour: How a gentle electrical jolt can focus a sluggish mind: http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/gentle-electrical-jolt-can-focus-sluggish-mind/
3. New Yorker: Electrified: http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2015/04/06/electrified