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Design Research Exploration

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Design Introduction

Design Statement

Design Duration

Aug. 2021 - Dec.2021

This is an exploration of design research. In this project, we used different design methods to better understand the underlying and hidden desires. The goal of this project is to encourage people to drink the generally-recommended amount of water to remain hydrated each day.

Design Team

Guanhua Sun

Fan Zhang

Gabriel Britain

Design Tools


Design Decription



HydroBand is a wearable wrist bracelet that can proactively notify the wearer if they’re becoming dehydrated, and can display coarse progress towards a water intake goal. The wearer’s water intake is measured by weighing the amount of water remaining in their water bottle. If the wearer wants a detailed breakdown of their drinking water habits, they can consult the companion application.




My Role


Product Design

Design Process

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Design Introduction

Problem Statement

The amount of water people need to drink to stay hydrated fluctuates each day. However, the average American is often consistently underhydrated, which can lead to fatigue, unclear thinking, and kidney stones. How can we help students maintain a healthy level of hydration every day while conforming to their lifestyle?

Problem Statement

Design Research


  • Preliminary Focal Points

The preliminary focal points for our observations were as follows:

  • How much water do students consume over the course of the observation period?

  • What kinds of vessels do students consume water out of?

  • What materials are student water vessels made of?

  • How many students will opt for single-use vessels over reusable vessels when given a choice between the two?

  • Observation Environment

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  • Key Findings

  • Students chose to purchase beverages in single-use containers (as seen at Moe’s and Clough).

  • The actual act of drinking water isn't a primary, conscious task unless the vessel is in view (Clough, GT Library).

  • Students will choose to occupy themselves with consuming water during lulls in conversations, upon completion of their primary task, or to break up a monotonous task or discussion (Moe’s, GT Library, and Clough).

  • One student’s employment of purchasing a drink to remove themselves from a heated debate within a group conversation, allowing the group to decompress during their absence, and letting productive conversation resume upon their return (Clough).


We constructed a questionnaire to further understand our target audience’s drinking behavior. 

  • Questions

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  • Key Findings

  • Prefer re-usable containers.

  • Only 8% of people think they drink enough water all the time

  • Students carry a water bottle with them at all times.

  • People drink water when they remember to, after working out, and when they feel thirsty. Very few people drink on a scheduled basis.

Semi-strucured Interview

We conducted three observations in three distinct locations: a university library, a public, a common space on campus, and a sit-down restaurant near campus. Each observation lasted approximately 30 minutes, during which time observers recorded notes of students’ drinking behavior.

  • Participants

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  • Affinity Map

After all of the semi-structured interviews had been conducted, researcher notes from each interview were transcribed into digital “sticky notes” on Mural. The notes were then organized into themes using affinity mapping, and those themes were grouped together into high-level findings.

  • Key Findings

  • A lot of people know they don’t drink enough water but have no will to change

  • People have difficulties in defining the volume they should take per day. 

  • Signals will help people know whether they drink enough water.

  • The material of the bottle is important.

  • The consumption of water fluctuates greatly.

  • Very few people drink on a scheduled basis.

Design Research




Conceptual Using Process

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Three Directions



Refine Design Direction

A wristband (wearable) connected with a water bottle helps university students drink enough water every day and be hydrated.

A wristband (wearable) connected with a water bottle helps university students drink enough water every day and be hydrated.

  • Remind users to drink water at a regular time.

  • Record everyday water intake.

  • Adjust water goals for the day

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Flow Chart




Participatory Design

The goal of our workshop was to better identify what notification methods people find appropriate within different contexts, and come up with novel notification methods or ways to make different methods appropriate for more contexts.


Because our target audience for our wearable devices is students, we recruited 5 MID students to participate in our workshop. To construct our toolkit, we listed out different locations where students drink water, and different activities students can be performing within each location.

In private:

  • Studying/Working

  • Resting/Sleeping

  • Exercising

In a public indoor space:

  • Studying/Working

  • Meeting with others

  • Socializing

  • Exercising

In a public outdoor space:

  • Exercising

  • Studying/Working

Each of these location/activity combinations was written on a piece of paper, and placed on a corkboard wall. Then, we grouped each of the notification channels we had considered thus far by category: tactile, auditory, or visual, which we assigned different colors.



We then asked our participants to take each notification channel and add it to any location/activity pair where they thought the notification channel would be acceptable and appropriate. 


Key Findings

  • Voice notifications are intrusive in public spaces.

  • Auditory notifications are more acceptable than expected.

  • Concern with ability to perceive lights.

  • Acceptable vibration intensity changes with context.

  • Ability to mute the device.

Participatory Design

Functional Prototype

In this project, we contain both vertical and horizontal prototypes.

  • Bottle (all horizontal). It looks nice but is non-functional.

  • Wristband (Almost all vertical). The lights and vibration are functional, but the lights and vibrations are operating on a circular loop because the water bottle does not sense.

  • App (Almost all vertical).  The functional prototype of the app has clickable parts that present the interactions and navigation possibilities of an app.

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Functions of the bottle: inner scale to measure the volume.

Functions of the wristband: vibration and light. The lights show the progress of intake. If the bottle has water, the lights are green; If the bottle is empty, the lights are red.

Functions of the app:

  1. Generate intake goals based on user information.

  2. Record the current drinking volume

  3. Adjust the goal of intake

  4. Link the bottle and wristband together

  5. Check history

  6. Change the setting like notification form, vibration, and lights


User Test

Our user evaluations had two primary goals: evaluating how appropriate the modalities of notification that we had selected were, and whether our users’ mental model of the application matched that of our own.


We recruited three Georgia Tech graduate students who either owned or had interacted with smartphones and smartwatches. All three participants were recruited via department-wide Slack channels. We found a time that worked for all three participants and set aside a 2-hour block to evaluate our prototype with each participant consecutively.

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To evaluate our prototype, we asked that our participants engage with both the mobile application and wrist-worn wearable device. To guide their interactions, we defined 5 tasks for our usability tests.

  • Put on the wristband and pair the application with the bottle and the wearable device.

  • Entering basic biological information necessary to calculate a rough daily water intake goal estimate.

  • Check progress towards the water intake goal on the wearable device (light changes).

  • View progress towards daily water intake goal on a weekly level.

Process & Metrics

  • Usability Test

To avoid interruptions and potential biases, each evaluation session was scheduled sequentially. Throughout the usability test, we observed the participant’s behavior, and recorded points in the interface where they faltered or expressed confusion.

  • Questionnaire

Following the usability test, the participant was asked to fill out a questionnaire, which consisted of Likert scale questions, intended to evaluate overall sentiments about the system, whether the participant could see themselves using such a system, and their thoughts on the feedback modalities employed in the preliminary prototype.

  • Semi-structured Interview

Once finished with the questionnaire, we asked participants to voice their sentiments towards the system and to discuss how the system’s mental model deviated from their own.


Key Findings

  • The system is effective. The notification method is intuitive. The design concept is easy to understand.

  • The lights on the medium-fidelity prototype were too bright.

  • Muting is mandatory a desire to “mute” the device from providing notifications temporarily.

  • The rationality of the Interface is confused about different scenario modes in the interface design, cannot match the icon with the function.

My Insights

  • Change the "Information" page. Add interactive elements.

  • Use data visualization graphs to show the water intake process and records.

  • Delete different modes for clear add notification settings.

User Test

Final Delivery

Product Design

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Interface Design

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Final Delivery

What I learned

  • Multiple design research methods.

  • How to communicate with target users effectively.

  • Use participatory design to help define the concept.

  • Work with people from different subject backgrounds.

  • Data analysis methods.

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