Rapid Prototyping: 1-Week Sprints

rapid prototyping


Initial rough sketches of phone screens (top) and watch screens (bottom)

paper prototype: birthday calendar app

This app inputs birthdays into a phone calendar. The calendar auto-syncs with a smartwatch, which will alert the wearer when it is someone’s birthday. The user can choose to call or text the birthday person or have the watch send another reminder.

Upon user testing, I received feedback that the desired sequence was too obvious because certain buttons were bright green while others were not. With these things in mind, I made all buttons the same color and came up with specific test cases to present to the next participant. This allowed me to test the flow without a leading bias.

Enlarged screen sizes, simplistic interfaces, and a believable (albeit low-fidelity) look-and-feel of the product contributed to an easy-to-follow flow and clear demonstration of the artifact's main functionalities.

Phone prototype (top), watch prototype (middle), and user testing (bottom)



Initial rough sketches of existing blender blades (top) and handles (bottom)

3d model: immersion blender forms

I modeled three different designs of a handheld immersion blender to test grip and convenience of button and display placements. I created three substantially different grips by altering the shapes (narrow grip Prototype 1, wider uniform grip for Prototype 2, and “hook handle” grip for Prototype 3). I also varied the speed mechanisms in terms of form (dial with fluid settings, buttons with distinct settings) and placement.

I conducted user testing in a scenario-based setting (i.e., a kitchen) using a mixing bowl as a prop. The user tests revealed that Prototype 1 was the most effective in both comfort and function. On Prototype 2, the placement of the buttons were “too low” in that they were far from thumb’s reach, and thus difficult to access while holding the blender with the same hand. The “awkward shape” and long length of Prototype 3 made it difficult to see the digital readout display.

Three different 3D model prototypes for a handheld immersion blender


Video prototype: OneBusAway

I wanted to showcase the functionality and appeal of the OneBusAway app in a novel, engaging way. I created a storytelling “hook” that could reel a viewer in before hitting them with the product pitch.

To brainstorm, I made a list of words and phrases that came to mind when I thought of the OneBusAway service: real-time, reliable, anticipated, expected, knowing, not having to guess, predictable, etc. This last one, “predictable,” sparked the idea to contrast the unpredictability of bus times with other things in life that are usually predictable (e.g., grad student dinners on a budget, rainy weather in Seattle, horror movie scenes).


Storyboard laying out the various scenes and shots

"Wizard of Oz" set-up

Close-up of arm and ankle bands with “sensors” (made from Velcro bands, brads, and white tape)

behavioral (wizard of oz) prototype: exercise assistant

Teammates: Siyi Kou & Nongmo Cai

We tested the appeal and functionality of a “wearable exercise assistant” that corrects people’s body alignment as they follow workout videos. We explained we were testing an early prototype that operates via a network of sensors embedded in wrist and ankle bands, a yoga mat, and a “black box” computer brain that receives information and accordingly prompts the participant verbally with corrective suggestions. 

I was the “wizard” playing pre-recorded audio clips from my laptop that corresponded to the various exercises. Participants bought into the design, which showed us that our concept was viable. All participants were notified of the set-up after the user tests.

Participants performing the exercises

Close-up of the “technical” set-up
(wires don’t actually do anything, and black box conceals the Bluetooth speaker)