Spring 2019


Jacob's School of Engineering


A five-month-long Design Competition aimed at improving the quality of life for people living with Parkinson's Disease, their caregivers and families. Milestones of the competition consisted of addressing a NEED, the prototyping process, and quality of final solution. Our team won first place against 30 participating teams.


Dawn Ye, Ludi Duhay, Wayne Phung, Willy Ma, David Laub, Emilia Pokta, Jacqueline Lee, April Gau

My Role & Contribution

UX Researcher

Lead Interviewer in Contextual Inquiry

Physical Design Prototyping






- Online Research into the Disease

- Attending Patient Support Group & Interviews

- In-Home Contextual Interview with Patient

- Journey Map with Doctor



- Incredibly large range of problem spaces, ranging from doctor-doctor data sharing challenges, caregiver exhaustion and respite, to physical limitations of patients

- Challenges faced by early-diagnosed patients are very different from late-stage Parkinson's patients

- Symptoms are variable; many of the same symptoms are expressed differently in different patients

- Common issue of medication adherence has many existing products on the market, but few are employed by patients

- Patients in support groups or social groups express positive effects from attending


A patient welcomed us into their home and showed us a piece of what daily life is like with Parkinson's.







- Affinity Diagram exercise with Patient & caregiver

- Exploring the space using a Mind Map

- Dot Voting on proposed problem spaces

- Collaborative Discussion


- Along with the challenge of Parkinson's symptoms, many patients expressed fear and embarrassment about their diagnosis

- It was challenging to pick a problem statement that would be most impactful given the wide range of stakeholders

- Categorizing these problems into over-arching categories helped us step back and gain perspective from a higher level

Margaret, Nurse Caretaker

...we usually don't come to events like these. Curtis gets too tired to use his walker.

Jeanie, Psychologist

...sometimes my body just won't move. I look down at my legs and think "Go!"

Katherine, Doctor

Usually I eat lunch while going through patient files. ...there's just no time.



Maintaining agency

Patients need a sense of autonomy and freedom in going about their lifestyle. Increasing agency may also reduce the load on caretakers.


Our mind map






- Crazy 8s & timed ideation sessions

- Problem-Solutions-Specifications Engineering Method

- Mapping features by Value to User

- Researching existing solutions

- Creating out own Metrics to measure ideas against

     Feasibility - Can we build it within time constraints?

     Novelty - How unique is the solution?

     Scalability - Can it be mass produced? Future potential?

     Flexibility - Is there room for error?

     Impact - How will the solution effect people?



- Engineers employ a different method of early-stage planning than designers do

- So many ideas, it became challenging with 9 people, ideation sessions were scattered and disorganized

- To deal with the above challenges, we created our own metrics, and measured each idea on a 1-5 scale.

- This was valuable in keeping our team aligned

mat pictures.png





- Building prototype

- Pivoting

- Usability Testing

- Making changes based on research feedback

- Delivering MVP


- Feedback from patients and engineers at the 2nd hacking event expressed little excitement and concerns on whether we could safely build our initial idea

- We pivoted twice before we were inspired by a video online of a patient able to walk along a staircase optical illusion

- We built safe mat tiles based on the staircase that could easily be fit to hallways in the home for patients to navigate with confidence

- This prototype was brought to Rock-Steady Boxing, and tested at an exercise session with patients

- Results of testing showed little difference in patients walking with/without the mat, however, patients would unconsciously step on the lights between tiles when crossing


- Feedback from patients & instructor suggested it could be used as a versatile gait-trainer and promote exercising at home


Construction of the prototype with poster board, rubber. LED light strips were added before testing.


Testing at Rock Steady Boxing. Patients were timed walking across the mat & without. ABBA Testing employed.

MVP work-in progress. Staircase pattern has been removed, and material is soft yoga-mat with LEDs flush to the surface.


Our product was well received by the public. We won first place and were voted audience favorite. I am grateful to have been able to work beside such talented designers and engineers. They taught me new design techniques, collaboration methods, and how to deliver/receive criticism. Their passion was infectious, and motivated me every week to make the best product I could.

I hope I get the pleasure of being a part of another talented group of Designers and Engineers in the future. I hope next time, we will be able to market and produce our idea!


Can't wait to do this again!