Miimi is a smart textile doll + companion app that helps parents cultivate an understanding of emotions to their high-functioning Autism child.

TEAM

Jan Ly, Kiran Patel, Paco Lui

DURATION

2 months
Nov-Dec 2019
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Role

I was mainly responsible for UX, visual design, motion design, and project management. In meetings, I took upon the responsibilities of the facilitator, ensuring that we iterated on a quick lateral process. Research, ideation, user flows, lo-fi and hi-fi app design was a joint effort.

I was mainly responsible for UX, visual design, motion design, and project management. In meetings, I took upon the responsibilities of the facilitator, ensuring that we iterated on a quick lateral process. Research, ideation, user flows, lo-fi and hi-fi app design was a joint effort.

I was mainly responsible for UX, visual design, motion design, and project management. In meetings, I took upon the responsibilities of the facilitator, ensuring that we iterated on a quick lateral process. Research, ideation and lo-fi and hi-fi app design was a joint effort.

USER EXPERIENCE

user persona, device-user interaction map, context scenario cases, iA

VISUAL & BRAND

design system, illustration assets

MOTION DESIGN

scriptwriting, storyboard, animation

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 SOLUTION

Physical Product

To appeal to the nurturing side of your child, your child can personalize their companion as Miimi comes in different shapes and sizes.

Using facial emotion recognition, eye tracking, and touch sensors, Miimi helps parents guide their child in learning social interactions step by step using concrete, evidence-based data.

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Product Walkthrough

App Features

FIRST-TIME USERS

Seamless Beginning

To-the-point experience for first-time users so that parents can immediately familiarize with different sections of the app.

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INTERACTION DETAIL
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PROGRESS SUMMARY
PROGRESS SUMMARY
RETURNING USERS

See Child’s Progress,
Eye-to-Eye

Interaction details, daily and weekly progress summaries provide parents a better understanding and reasoning in the way that the child understands: concrete and detailed.

LONG-TIME USERS

Grow Together

Children grow up so fast, and Miimi recognizes that. Recalibration keeps Miimi up-to-date with the physical development of your child.

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DESIGN CHALLENGE

How might we help parents understand their high-functioning autism child while also supporting their child’s emotional growth?

The Problem

1 in every 66 Canadian children is diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). One difficulty experienced with this disorder is understanding non-verbal communication and social interactions. This is known as a symptom of the disorder, noted as a lack of emotional understanding, or empathy.

As a result, this may induce self-isolation because they “don’t fit in”; similarly, peers may find them awkward or even rude. Those with high-functioning ASD who experience this type of social isolation are especially vulnerable to anxiety and depression. They may be confused or frustrated, which leads to anger and volatility.

PAIN POINTS

Detail-oriented Thinking

With a detail-per-detail basis attention span, children with ASD can overlook information. They feel overwhelmed grasping subliminal social cues within interactions they partake in. As a result, they may not respond in the same way a neurotypical/non-ASD individuals will.

Limited Social Reasoning

Insufficient
Neurotypical Reasoning

Individuals with ASD think concretely and literally,  requiring the "why" or detail to social actions. Advice from neurotypical parents may not be sufficient because they are not catering to that concrete thinking.

Inaccessible
Parenting Strategies

Many caregivers have difficulty accessing ASD-related information starting at the initial diagnosis of their child. They experience stress and become uncertain of their parenting effectiveness for their child. 

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RESEARCH PROCESS

User Personas

From the following pain points from an AS child and the parent, I created two user personas to consolidate the team’s research.

The personas serve as the point-of-reference to ensure our every decision attends to the needs of the people we design for.
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PACT Analysis

Since each person conducted secondary research on ASD, we conducted a PACT analysis to help us discuss all of our findings and put all our theoretical findings under the activities of our two user personas.

See PACT Analysis here, and see below for how we narrowed down our research process into the smart device features.

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The Solution

Miimi is a smart doll designed for children with ASD, using motion, touch, and facial recognition to interpret and evoke empathy through its engaging prompts and friendly visual design.

With its companion app, Miimi provides data on the interactions with the doll, so parents can increase their effectiveness to communicate and teach emotion while gaining clarity to how their child expresses themselves. 

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Marketing the Product

To supplement the smart product, the promotional video helps to imagine day-to-day living with Miimi, whereas the point-of-sale website appeals to parents logically to purchase the doll.

Device-User Interaction Map

From the PACT Analysis, we deduced the technological features that can help apply methods for intervention that have not been done yet by existing products: cameras with facial expression recognition, and sharing with the parent through a companion app.

We mapped out how our user personas interact with the doll and the app below.

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APP STRUCTURE

Information Architecture

APP STRUCTURE

Information Architecture

The concept of a doll as a smart device is entirely new, therefore having an onboarding flow to introduce product features and a tutorial flow would help parents familiarize themselves with the app.

As the children get used to Miimi, we assumed that they will improve their social skills over time. We considered a growth mindset onto the companion by adding a progress tab to visualize children's improvements, whereas the recalibration serves to recognize the physically developing facial features and expressions of the child.

 

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Visuals

I set out a typographic system and foundational components consisting of illustration and iconography. This established tonal and visual consistency of the two vastly different user needs, the different aesthetics from the website and video, and the two points of interaction (doll-app).

Illustration and iconography set warm and calming nuances that illicit nurturing responses, whereas typographic choices elevate the robust function of the smart product while staying invisible.

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User Flows

Taking Concept to Form

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ONBOARDING & WALKTHROUGH

Showcasing how to connect the physical device with the app and help user familiarize with the app.

 

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INTERACTION DETAILS & SUMMARY

Informing parents of child’s usage accompanied by contextual data per interaction and weekly progress reports.

 

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SETTINGS — CALIBRATION

Always have Miimi up-to-date with the physical development of the child.

 

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Takeaway

Throughout the project, I learned to focus and utilize each other’s strengths and critique etiquette with a growth mindset. Miimi is a blue-sky speculative project, so it lacks practicality and feasibility on the technical side. With the time constraints, we did our best to visualize the idea by creating the doll and photo manipulating the facial expressions of Miimi.


If this project were to be continued in the future, it’d be insightful to have user testing to validate the two interaction types, have interviews with engineers to find out technological constraints and cost of the smart doll, and eventually hiring developers and engineers to build the first working prototype of the doll.

Overall, it was a great collaborative experience as the caliber of research, empathy, and execution in this project would not have been possible if it were not for each person’s effort.

The caliber of research, empathy, and execution in this project would not have been possible if it were not for each person’s effort.

Highlighting the people we design for and diving into research extensively pushed us to not only be conscientious, critical but to also utilize each other’s strengths and insight in order to find the best possible design decision that would best address user concerns.