Grow is wearable device that will track your movement, activity, and health and communicate directly with your Grow Facebook Account to promote, present, and allow for new, or past relationships to be born!  This product concept is targeted at the Elderly (Older Adults) in an effort to motivate mobility in the community.

Team members

Max Kessler, Nic Barajas, Tingting Gao, Sun-Young Na

My contribution

Digital design and prototype


2014 fall semester


Unnoticed Difficulties for Older Adults

We started our research by observing everything in our life and thinking about whether any type of design actually brings difficulties or inconvenience to older adults. Unfortunately, there are so many unnoticed difficulties for them everyday in both physical and digital world. 

Define problem space

Getting older brings senior health challenges. For many older adults, senior living includes carefully managing chronic conditions in order to stay healthy and live longer. Arthritis is the leading chronic condition reported by older adults. 

Arthritis can lead to pain and lower quality of life for older adults. Although arthritis can discourage you from being active, it’s important to develop a personalized activity plan that, along with other treatment, can help maintain senior health. Besides, innovations in design, performance materials and technology can be used to address this challenge. 

Initial Concept

"Life lies in movement."

We used to believed that the most healthy life for older adults is exercising everyday. To encourage them to walk or jog, we tried to create a wearable device which can visualize their movement efforts. The device will track how far they go, and generate art piece when users go back home and sync the data. 

However, we failed on this idea. We learned that we should always include users first instead of making assumptions for them!


Ethnographic research

We visited Stein Senior Center, to engage and learn about users needs and emotional responses to wearable technology and mobility. The older adults were very happy that we were there, and were sharing all kinds of information with us. We got some important insights through conversations:

  1. Some of them are comfortable with wearable technology, but they hope the product to be as easy as possible
  2. They want audience, they want to be listened. They have great interests of sharing information.

Prototype iterations

One for an older adult, another one for his/her younger family member.

Two Different Types of Wearables ships to the couple and one member has to meet up in person with the other member to activate the wearables. 

  • Clip on 
  • Bracelet

 The data of the amount of older adult’s walks converts through the wearable and will be sent to younger family member’s wearable for the exercise challenge, and vice versa.

Pace and distance could be predetermined by health professionals.

The wearable controls the flexibility of the amount of walk that an older adult should walk based on the health data.


Final Design

Using phases of the design process (from ethnographic research, to prototyping), this product parses through concepts to create an idea that has a strong story and a partnering prototype. 

Though early assumptions were that older adults had no interest in working with technology and they were more interested in visual stimulation and feedback, a round of concepting and prototyping revealed that was not actually the case.  Through research and working with older adults, we found that they actually were interested in being involved in technology, but were easily intimidated if it was too overwhelming. 

Facebook is a great bridge for older adults to be motivated by technology, as they are accustomed to the interface and network already.  Grow would partner with Facebook to allow connectivity to past colleagues, friends, and family members.  This network would motivate, encourage, and keep everyone moving!