An interactive morning mat

The prompt

Product Overview

In a human-centered design methods class, I was tasked with designing an interactive device that improves an aspect of the home given that the COVID-19 pandemic has led to increased time indoors.
Uplift is an interactive morning mat that displays upcoming breaks at the start of the day. Paired with the soothing visuals of a sunrise, this mat works to increase motivation by reminding burnt-out individuals of what they have to look forward to.

Why did people become burnt-out after going remote?

For some reason...
home confinement was associated with being able to take on more work; and just like that, the work-life balance lines were blurred for many.
7 out of 10
adults reported that work increase has been a significant source of stress from the pandemic (American Psychological Association study).
And so...
while stress doesn’t directly impact job performance, it does have profound effects on motivation.

Establishing goals

My thought process was a little something like this: If I can increase motivation, then I can work to decrease the stress that adults and students have experienced because of this unanticipated work increase.
Goal 1:
Increase motivation for students and full time workers
Goal 2:
Implement interactivity as per the prompt

So how can I increase motivation?

A mat that prompts users to do morning stretches
Based on research connecting exercise and motivation, this bedside mat would serve as a way to wake people up and get their body moving before their busy days. Visuals might include 2 hand prints to tell users where to place their body.

Would people actually use an exercise mat?

Q: "What problems can this mat help you solve, if any?"
Many college students don’t naturally associate exercise with motivation
Q: "What are your initial reactions after using the mat?"
There may be hesitancies to do any form of exercise directly after waking up

Working backwards to find a new output for the mat

Although the exercise mat didn't receive positive feedback from user testing, I kept exploring different ways to use a bedside mat in general. This was because I wanted to create a product that didn't require going out of the way to use, given that my target audience is already stressed and used to mundane daily routines. Since I selected a mat as the form, I thought through different outputs to spark ideas.
Texture changing
Text changing
Color changing
Engaging with physical senses can quickly grab attention
Easy way to communicate information clearly
Effective use of color can help users feel more awake; many ways to implement
Technology constraints; may throw off users’ balance when they wake up; hard to pair with other outputs
Text can’t overlap with where users step
Color change would need to happen quickly if users are in a morning rush

Displaying upcoming breaks

Text changing
I explored displaying upcoming breaks on the mat as a way to increase motivation throughout the day and reinforce healthy work-life balances. Users would input events through the corresponding Uplift app, and see what they have to look forward to the next morning. Here’s what a user might see when stepping on the mat.

Using soothing sunrise colors

Color changing
Research shows that watching sunrises can help boost mood, as well as reduce inflammation and depression. Thus, since more positive moods increase the chances of being motivated, I included a sunrise visual that will appear on the mat when users step on it.

Building the prototype with basic materials