Google Aria: Asthma management
UX / Researcher
Google Aria is a service for individuals with asthma who want an easy and informative way of tracking their symptoms, preventing an attack, and dealing with an attack when it happens. Google Aria’s greatest value comes via wearable technology that allows users to track their vitals and other signs that could contribute to asthma at any time. The wearable is capable of tracking user vitals and fitness stats, while the app provides information regarding environmental triggers/stressors. Google Aria will provide users with the options of inputting their peak flow test results in a diary form and give users reminders to take prescribed medications. The focus for this app is to incorporate holistic methods of asthma management in cohesion with medical protocols.
To design an asthma management application that provides users with all necessary symptom tracking metrics and environmental triggers. To offer users asthma management options that don’t involve medications, as well as attempting to provide parents with a method of managing their child’s asthma.
- Follow material design guidelines
- Incorporate holistic asthma management methods
- Design app and wearable cross-functions
- Closely review material design parameters
- Evaluate effective non-medicated methods
- Understand how users will interact with the wearable
PHASE 1: DISCOVER
- Identify users who would benefit most from Google Aria
- Determine most common asthma triggers
- Identify common types of asthma
- Pinpoint user pain points and wearable preference
Before starting desktop research, I listed the triggers, symptoms, and medication I took as a child when I had asthma. I found that asthma symptoms are the same, what varies is asthma triggers. While looking into non-medicated management options I found that controlled cardiovascular exercise and deep breathing exercises were commonly reported as effective methods. While there are individuals who suffer with exercise induced asthma, following a safe exercise routine will gradually reduce the the occurrence of symptoms.
After conducting desktop research my initial direction was to focus on how to incorporate deep breathing and a VO2 Max meter in the app. I reviewed the sources I used for my research and identified two general types of asthmatic individuals: those who became asthmatic as a child and those who are affected by adult onset asthma. I created two provisional personas to represent app users under those categories.
The app can be used by both caretaker and care seeker, so I created Maria, a mother of an asthmatic child, and Asif, a college student with adult onset asthma.
Moving into user surveys, I decided to focus on participants who have a history of asthma or have a child with asthma. In the survey brief I ask users to assume the position of a parent of an asthmatic child. While considering viability of the app and wearable, it makes more sense to me to focus on caregivers. Desktop research has shown me that a majority of asthma sufferers are children who end up growing out of their symptoms if properly cared for. Survey users reported that while asthmatic as children, they are not bothered by asthma as adults, and if they are, they are able to manage their asthma without the need for a help app. After reviewing the survey results, I identified the primary user for this app as the caregiver and the focus will be on managing a child’s asthma. Something I found very interesting from the surveys was that a few users expressed concern about how anxiety can affect asthma. Those concerns play an important role in the design phase when I consider language and app appearance in relationship to anxiety triggers.
Early in the survey research I received results indicating that 2 users were somewhat confused about the role they would be taking while completing the survey. I quickly made changes to the necessary changes to the survey instructions and did not get any more participants reporting confusion while answering questions.
I will be referring to the needs of a parent when designing the app
PHASE 2: DEFINE
Identifying Features & Goals
Understanding the interaction between the Aria app and wearable is important before moving on to designing the app. Below you can find the product road map, business and user goals, and Information architecture of the Aria app. Creating the IA was particularly helpful when designing as I found myself referencing it throughout the wireframe building process.
My design for the Google Aria Wearable is heavily inspired by the Fitbit Flex 2. I found the design of the Flex 2 ideal for children, lacking a distracting screen and encased in durable silicone. With a minimal, water resistant wearable, children can go about their day and keep the device on the entire time. To take the wearable functions a step above simply tracking fitness metrics, I decided to theorize data and GPS capability with the option to send medication alerts directly from a phone running the app to the connected wearable.
Aria being a Google app, I made sure to strongly consider functions and holistic methods that fall in line with Google’s direction. In this phase I found that wearable functionality plays an important role on viability, desirability, and feasibility.
PHASE 3: DESIGN
This was my first time designing within the material design guidelines. Every day I read through the site to better understand the design patterns and component parameters. In addition to reviewing the material design language, I also reviewed Google visual guidelines for reference on typeface, color, and white space use.
I was inspired by the Google Photos fan due to its relation to air and created some designs attempting to work that shape into the Aria logo. I initially wanted to create a logo that represented air, movement, and a feeling of weightlessness, which is why I chose a gradient circular background for the majority of logos. I played with a more abstract “A” design which was influenced by the Google Wear OS logo, and a simple inhaler logo. I decided to go with the inhaler logo since it is the most recognizable and easily identifiable as relating to asthma.
In the sketched homepage dashboard, I included all relevant data metrics and chose to represent the user’s well-being with a clear centered visual that resembles a face. I found that the low-fidelity wireframes looked too similar and made the necessary changes while designing the mid-fidelity wireframes.
I used a material design UI kit to create both low and mid-fidelity stable and unstable dashboard wireframes. I made sure to check the component specifics to ensure they were following parameters and chose the colors based on material design accessibility guidelines. I initially planned for the unstable page to be red, but decided that orange would appear less alarming and represent concern rather than danger. These pages were designed with usability tasks in mind and would allow the caregiver using the app to send a medication alert message to the wearable on the child’s wrist prompting them to use their inhaler. The app will suggest sending an alert if the collected wearable data indicated they are having a hard time breathing. My design for the Aria app puts the alert feature at the forefront while allowing caregivers to monitor their child’s metrics, environmental triggers, input reminders, and peak flow readings. The typos on these two pages were corrected before moving on to prototype design.
Here you can see the hi-fidelity Aria wireframes which include a push notification example and the on-boarding process.
Aria stable dashboard with wearable mockup. The wearable will change vibration and light intensity to guide users through deep breathing exercises for asthma management.
Aria unstable dashboard with wearable mockup. The wearable will intensely vibrate and flash orange lights as a signal that medication should be taken. The alert button becomes active and an alert signal will be sent once the caretaker taps the button.
I built out the prototype referencing material design animation guidelines and opted for a guided prototype experience to simulate a child who is wearing the Aria bracelet having an asthma attack. Participants were asked questions after task completion and were able to explore all app options. The 3 tasks are listed below.
- Complete the Google Aria on-boarding process and navigate to John’s dashboard
- John is having trouble breathing, send him a medicine alert
- Do the deep breathing exercise
I had a total of 3 participants for the remote usability test ranging in age from 18-28, 2 previously asthmatic and 1 a mother of an asthmatic child. Key takeaways from usability testing:
1) App language can be more personal
2) A child wearable tutorial would be beneficial
3) Additional reminders options like medicine refill reminders, child schedule, and doctor appointment reminders
From this usability testing I found that the alert feature and concept of holistic asthma management methods were validated. With that, I did not get any usable feedback that can lead to overall app improvements. I believe that this can be due partially to the limited participant sample size as well as the prototype being too guided specific to tasks. I think that building out all app pages and having users explore more than the highlighted features will be the solution for getting usable testing results.
Going into this project, I wanted to add an important function to the Aria app that I haven’t seen in other Aria designs or asthma management apps. Results from the usability testing shows that users find the alert system very useful and the design of the wearable as something that makes sense for children to wear. While I kept the prototype straight forward and task oriented, there is a lot more that I can do with the prototype in order to answer user questions and further build out the app. I enjoyed the process of designing an application in accordance with Google material design guidelines and can see how the design language can aid a designer in creating an engaging interface.