In the event of an emergency, receiving immediate help and services is important to anyone. However, what happens when you’re alone and you don’t have anyone nearby to help? Who do you call? What if you physically cannot call anyone because you are in a position that limits mobility?
For many individuals, contacting someone for help is usually their first instinct. For those loved ones of the individuals faced with an emergency, almost always, they want to be notified immediately of the event.
Currently, Life Alert has a product that involves its users to wear a pendant around their neck, where they are able to press a button to contact a Life Alert dispatcher who then contacts emergency personnel to come aid the user. However, currently, Life Alert does not offer a quick way for loved ones to be notified of the emergency.
Thus, in a mock project assigned by General Assembly, my team of 3 UX Designers (myself included) was challenged to spend two weeks to improve Life Alert’s existing digital solutions by helping Life Alert’s current subscribers send alerts to family members as well as any needed emergency services.
Upon getting started on the project, our team needed to understand some of the existing framework behind Life Alert:
Who are the users?
What is the situation with medical alert systems in general?
Are other medical alert systems having success in helping their subscribers?
After researching who the users were, our team divided the target users into three categories:
We also discovered some shocking data upon researching medical alert systems:
This alarming information compelled us to look further into the users to understand what types of feelings and emotions were associated with their experience using medical alert systems. From our in-depth interviews with 8 participants, secondary research from 10+ academic research articles, and empathy map, we gathered the following information about our users:
Primary users want to feel safe, to get help when they need it, and to have a way for their family to be notified of their emergency
Secondary users want to know that their loved one is getting help and that they are alerted immediately
For primary users, it makes them feel old when using it, the pendant is unnatural and embarrassing to wear in daily life, they wish to feel empowered and independent, and they feel like a burden to their family.
For secondary users, they want to feel reassured that their loved one is doing okay, they feel worried and guilty for being physically far away, and they want to unobtrusively check-in with their loved one without feeling over-bearing.
All of this data was helpful when trying to understand some of the feelings regarding Life Alert and medical alert systems. To gain some insights from our users, we created an affinity map from the data that we gathered and organized them into patterns and trends.
Primary users care about having independence while feeling safe and connected to loved ones
Secondary users have concern, love, and responsibility toward their loved ones
After analyzing the key insights, we realized that older adults want to live safely and independently and need the reassurance that trustworthy help is available when required. However, the current Life Alert product is outdated and negatively stigmatized. It requires users to wear a pendant at all times, thereby creating a constant negative reminder of a possible impending emergency. This ultimately leaves the primary user feeling less safe, less empowered, and less independent, and their loved ones feeling concerned and worried.
Looking at their current products, website, and mobile app, much of the existing framework was an indication why the stigma could have formed:
Using the research our team had already gathered, I created a mood board to understand how the current Life Alert brand can be shifted into a positive light.
Shift from a feeling of danger, uneasiness, worry, and stress, to a feeling of calmness, comfort, connection, trust, and reassurance
Shift from a feeling of being old, frail, and outdated, to a feeling of being modernized, reassuring, simple, and fresh.
After conducting competitor research, we realized that many of the companies were doing essentially the same services and functions as Life Alert — aside from an additional, yet important feature (fall detection).
Our team decided that Life Alert’s existing product needed a product re-design to enhance the overall brand and feelings associated with Life Alert. One major consideration was a wearable that included features that would meet the users needs, including fall detection, an ability to connect with others, safety alerts, behavior/health monitoring, and a GPS.
With these insights in mind, we then found inspiration from Nest, Siri, and Amazon Echo, all of which are products that are hands-free and can be controlled by the voice. However, after creating a metrics for success, we realized that with wearables blooming into designs and user experiences, we knew that they had to be incorporated into the design. Unfortunately, with time being a constraint, we created a prioritization map to prioritize which features of our product re-design needed to be focused on first; wearables ended up being a “next-steps” approach in our designs.
In the end, our results ended up being a product re-design that we named, Nido, which means “nest,” in hopes that it would capture the new slogan we came up with: “Nido: Your invisible safety net.” The following are features we designed to accompany the product:
Nido is a smart home that uses acoustic fall-detection, voice recognition, motion sensors, and other home emergency detections to help contact loved ones and Life Alert dispatchers that an emergency has occurred.
The product can be controlled by voice command and even sync to the Nido app we designed.
The Nido app works as a communication network and care circle, allowing loved ones to view updates and emergency notifications, check-in on their loved ones, and have private conversations.