“Rethinking the Alarm Clock”, Prototyping User Experiences with Robert Fabricant, Josh Musick, Clay Wiedemann, and Jeff Hoefs, Spring 2011.

Challenge

Design an alarm clock that no one has ever used before, with a specified parameter. In my case, the parameter was to design an alarm clock that only relies on smell.

Approach

Once I interpreted the parameter of the challenge as smell being an output for the user, I began considering in what situations would smell be compelling or necessary. Biological factors were an obvious direction. As a frequent migraineur, I often experience smell auras a few days to a week before a migraine attack. It’s proven useful over time as an early warning of an oncoming migraine. What if I could recreate that aura for another biological purpose? Who else has a biologically unmet need?

In brainstorming, I moved from thinking about an alarm clock in its expected format (an indicator of determined time) to reframing it as an alert for a multitude of possibilities (from biological alerts to personal goals). Eventually, I arrived at the menstrual cycle. A woman’s cycle can vary from the typical 28-day cycle depending on multiple factors, including stress and the environment. And oftentimes, women will manually track their cycles as a method of anticipating the next onset. This leads to inaccuracies in knowing when the next period will arrive, let alone being able to then counteract symptoms ahead of time. Furthermore, current available solutions are relegated to marking notes on a calendar, be it analog or digital. While this may be sufficient, it’s reactionary or merely informative, rather than anticipatory.

What if we created an alarm clock tailored for tracking the menstrual cycle; and taking a step beyond, using the power of smell to mitigate the problems women encounter due to their monthly cycles?

Outcome

Pick-Me-Up, a scent-emitting “smart” jewelry that mitigates symptoms of PMS. Intended for every day use, the jewelry becomes smarter over time, calibrating with a woman’s preferences and biological triggers. Women can select custom fragrances to provide a subtle “pick-me-up” whenever and wherever necessary.

    The parameter of my alarm clock

    The parameter of my alarm clock

    Jewelry syncs with the jewelry box which then sends and retrieves data from a menstrual calendar app

    Jewelry syncs with the jewelry box which then sends and retrieves data from a menstrual calendar app

    Breaking down the prototype

    Breaking down the prototype

    Storyboarding a typical day in the user's life

    Storyboarding a typical day in the user's life

    Prototyping the jewelry... Pick-Me-Up!

    Prototyping the jewelry... Pick-Me-Up!