Optimizing user flow at the Museum of the City of New York


Advisors: Marshall Sitten (Citi Community Development)

Team: Andy Kang, Crystal Wang, Glenda Capeville

Roles: field + secondary research, collaborated in prototype ideation and pitch presentation

Categories: Service design, user research, prototyping, wayfinding






The Museum of the City of New York is a private, non-profit museum located on Museum Mile on 103rd Street and 5th Ave in the Upper East Side of Manhattan.  It celebrates NYC, educating the public about the city's distinctive character by showcasing its history, culture and art, as well as its heritage of diversity, opportunity and perpetual transformation.  

Because the museum operates on a suggested donation model, it is highly accessible to the general public. However, since no admission cost is required, the gift shop is an important source of revenue. 





Credit: Crystal Wang




Currently, museum visitors enter through Store A (blue line), which also operates as a ticket counter. However, when visitors exit, they tend to go through a large inviting atrium glass door exit (red line), instead of the Store B (green line).



More cashflow from the store will sustain the museum. Design signage and wayfinding to attract visitors to the Store B and pinpoint the types of items they want to see and buy once there.

Optimize the flow of users upon conclusion of their visit to the MCNY.


The photo below shows the exit options side by side. The atrium doors are what most customers use, which results in lost revenue for the museum.  MCNY would prefer they exit through STORE B.


Currently, there is a small letterboard that asks patrons to exit via the shop which is largely ineffective. Because of this, much of the foot traffic is being lost through the wrong exit.

How might we nudge people to exit though the gift shop and bring the museum more revenue?  


The atrium exit glass doors are transparent, very open and inviting, making it a natural exit 

We also observed various customer pain points.





Although the museum offers a multitude of services, it still operates on a suggested donation model. What this means is that the museum suggests that every visitor gives 18 dollars for admission—however it is not required.

Because the price of the ticket is somewhat of a moving target and variable by visitor, each individual visitor can determine what their willingness to pay would be for the ticket. That makes ticket revenue somewhat of an unstable source of cash flow to the museum.

Tour bus companies specifically only give the museum 2-3 dollars per visitor from the tour bus. This means that the margins on these particular visitors are extremely low. When considering this, we note that because of the nature of the admission price, the majority or the revenue actually comes from donations, fundraising, and gift shop sales.




The museum brings in a wide variety of visitors, including students, families, and general native New Yorkers. However, the tour bus tourists are the museum’s clearest opportunity group, totaling to one-third of the entire visitor pool. These tourists see the city via the double decker hop on hop off buses which travel through Manhattan.  These tourists' demographic size has the potential to make a large impact on the revenue. For these reasons, we decided to make them the focus of our solutions.




We wanted to consider the entirety of the user journey, including the time before and after the museum visit. Many of the users needs prior to the visit ultimately ended up driving some of our solutions. We chose a circular shape for the user journey because the path through the museum can be somewhat ambiguous. 



From the blueprint, we were able to establish opportunity points throughout the visitor's journey. From our interviews with museum staff, we were able to get a better sense of the back-end action and support systems necessary to keep the museum running. 

We were able to leverage these systems to address our challenge. 




Our main goal was to figure out how how to better integrate the shops with the overall museum experience in a more natural way.

For our primary research, we conducted intercept and stakeholder interviews and went through a mystery shopping exercise. Through our research, we discovered four main principles to inform our work. 



We spoke with visitors and museum staff during operating hours.  Our primary stakeholder, Jerry Gallagher, COO of the MCNY worked closely with us throughout our design process, offering up suggestions and steering us towards real pain points that they experience on a regular basis, affecting their revenue.  We were able to walk around with Jerry and witness firsthand the pain points play out in real time and discuss potential ideas.

After regrouping to ideate and discuss, we mapped out the museum visitors' major pain points and needs.  From there, we came up with solutions while factoring in cost and feasibility.


Did you go to the 1st museum shop? Yes.

What did you buy?  Oh, BUY?  Museum shop?  No we didn’t go into the gift shops at all.  I thought you meant first floor exhibitions.  We didn’t go into the gift shops at all.  We did use the cafe.  

How did you find the exiting?  Pretty easy.  We didn't really notice the shops!

Family from Ridgewood, NJ





To solve our problem, we came up with multiple approaches that optimize the holistic visitor experience for increased foot traffic towards Store B.



One solution, which we called ‘Not-So Gentle Persuasion’ covers the glass doors with large opaque decals with bold graphics which would more naturally direct the customers through the shop.

The opacity would be a subtle way of changing customer behavior and more likely direct them to the gift shop exit. While the letter-board was subtle but ineffective, we instead thought of the opposite way of attracting attention and changing behavior.

We thought of true New Yorkers, who are known for being brash, upfront, and funny.  Why can't MCNY be equally upfront about their desire to make customers aware of the store that also happens to be an exit? 



Across the atrium near the entrance of STORE B, we observed museum visitors charging their cell phones in a wall outlet. While waiting, they would recharge themselves by relaxing on the oversized ottoman near the base of the stairs.  We saw this as a major opportunity to address some museum visitor needs - recharging their phones and bodies while traveling. 

To the north of the atrium is an expansive hallway filled with negative space. We thought this space could be better utilized as a recharge station. The close proximity to store B would mean that while museum visitors are recharging their bodies and phones, their companions and children would wander into the store, increasing the likelihood of a store purchase. 


An extremely lo-fidelity solution to a user need that could drive business into STORE B.  Inspired by a relic of NYC history, we bring back the image of once ubiquitous vintage NYC phone booths, this time in decal form with USB chargers built-in.  This encourages activity around STORE B as well as an Instagrammable moment.



Verbal direction from museum staff can also potentially increase the foot traffic toward to the gift shops. Visitors interact with staff members at multiple touch points and these are great opportunities to have someone remind visitors to do certain things such as exit through the gift shops at the end of their visit. 

This solution is the most economical and easy to implement since the museum can just use their existing staff. However, it will require constant training and depend on the staff to maintain the solution. 



Our research shows that customers prefer to be led via a natural flow around a store rather than running into obstacles.  We recommend a reconfiguration of STORE B's cash register location as well as general layout to be more conducive to a positive shopping experience.



We see a major opportunity at the MCNY to capitalize on some of their best exhibits by producing specialized exhibit-related merchandise. 

Museum customers who are impacted by a well-curated experience or specific exhibits are more likely to purchase a reminder of the museum to take home with them. The MCNY delivers exhibit content with tremendous care and dynamic detail, yet most of the merchandise does not directly correlate to any of the exhibits.

Our first merchandising suggestion would be to look at the Future City Lab exhibit. The table with the ‘WHAT IF’ cards is incredibly engaging with museum-goers writing their musings about an idealistic world on them. What if the MCNY held a contest each month for the best ‘WHAT IF’ card? The best designs could be printed on t-shirts, and the winners would get a free t-shirt along with a voucher to the cafe.

The ‘WHAT IF’ graphic elements and bold colors lend themselves to merchandise easily. 

  • Creating specialized merchandise that can only be purchased at the MCNY makes the experience of shopping more unique.

  • Margins are much healthier when you produce and sell directly.

  • Customer who is positively engaged by the museum will be able to have a full-circle user journey taking home items that will directly remind them of the experience they had at the MCNY.

Our sponsor reacted very enthusiastically to this engaging idea.



Another approach to increasing foot traffic in the stores was to leverage store A as a touchpoint to give museum visitors a reason to return to store B. In store A, the merchandise is primarily books. STORE B revenue is much higher than STORE A.

For the short term, we suggested the concept of “Buy Now, Pick Up Later.” In this model, a museum visitor can purchase a book or an object from store A, and then elect to leave it with the staff to pick up after their visit. That way, they are not only incentivized to enter store B to pick up their merchandise, but also more likely to buy something from store A since they do not need to carry it throughout the store.

Based on the resources and availability of the museum store staff, they could even offer to ship an order to a person’s home, assuming they order a certain dollar amount of goods. This could further incentivize them to purchase things, so they do not need to carry the items throughout their trip.




Following the design of our prototypes, we analyzed the economic feasibility of all of our ideas. On one end of the spectrum, ideas such as Buy Now, Pick Up Later and Verbal Directions from the Staff can be implemented at almost no cost to the museum, because the existing infrastructure and people necessary are already in place. However, these ideas require a high level of expertise on the Expertise - Industrialization scale and are high in human resource usage. 

On the opposite end of the spectrum, things such as the store interior display update are extremely high in upfront cost, but would essentially need staff to upkeep once implemented. Similarly, changes in signage would not require human resources in the long run, and if anything would be able to lessen the load on staff with more clear signage and directions.




Following our critique we think we would gain additional insight if we could:

  • Convince the MCNY to agree to prototype some of our ideas, namely the not-so-gentle-persuasion which we feel is a low cost low-fidelity easily implementable solution that could prove to be effective.

  • Interview other key members of the MCNY team to get even more insight on pain points from their respective points of view and identify additional stakeholders. We did in fact speak with many of the staff members on the floor (the security guards, front desk staff selling tickets, cashiers, coat check staff) and we are happy to more prominently attribute our insights to these people.

  • Conceptualize a solution in which we could think further “outside the box” of the stores? Does there even need to be two stores? If we minimize to one store, how might we utilize the second space in a different way?

  • Build partnerships with other museums and local partners to increase MCNY’s visibility, bring in unique merchandise and eve sell MCNY merchandise outside the museum? Perhaps we could even build a local merchandise and artisan section from the museum’s Harlem neighborhood.


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Make wishes happen


Advisor: Daniel Goddemeyer

Team: Johny Vino

Roles: research, synthesis, wireframes, prototype ideation/concept/flows, illustrations, UX/UI, presentation

Categories: UX research/strategy, product design, UX / UI, prototyping




“I think this is a “pretty” design. However, this should not exist in the world.”

- Rohit Jesudian (lead UX designer at Zylo)

“Whoa, who even thought of such an idea? AI can be useful for kids but under constant supervision. Unsupervised AI can be a disaster, not just for kids, but for everyone.”

- @rishabhxsonker




For all the potential Artificial Intelligence has to be a force for good in the world (diagnosing cancer, understanding climate change, etc), AI might have just as much potential to do harm. Without regulation and oversight, there will be numerous instances for the new technology to be misused.


As conscientious designers we are constantly trying to help people, not hurt them. How might we play devil’s advocate and conceptualize an app that utilizes AI in nefarious ways, in order to understand the ethical implications that can arise when the technology falls into the wrong hands?




Using AI bots and data to help kids gain control of their lives, Cajole is an app that figures out the optimal time and method to approach parents with a request or simply to get away with something.


Any kid who is fed up with having to play by the rules and being told, “NO” all the time. 













We wanted to test out what kind of public reaction Cajole would get if we ‘launched’ it as an app. The responses were interesting and funny (and plentiful). We are happy to report that most people found our app pretty disturbing, giving us faith in humanity.




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  • We received thousands of sign-ups to our Cajole app

  • The reactions, once people realized what the app was aiming to do, varied from disbelief to anger to accusations of ‘scamminess’ to appreciation and admiration.

  • This type of dark portal into an alternate app universe is unlikely but for our class Future (Im)Perfect, we were interested less in feasibility than in how far we could push the nightmarish ‘Black Mirror’ direness of the concept.

  • People liked the UI, which led us to believe that strong UI can be a dangerous way to attract users to a dubious product.

  • People in general have an understanding that AI is potentially dangerous if not regulated and kept in check.


  • We will be putting Cajole to rest. Although there are aspects of the app that could help kids actually notice the emotional well-being of their parents and even help them get through hard times, the potential dangers are too big to risk

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Calming anxiety in kids by taking a breather.


Advisors: Eric Forman (SVA Physical Computing)

Team: Johny Vino, Mia Darling

Roles: research, ideation, personas, industrial design, prototyping, user testing, concept, video 

Categories: physical computing, UX, industrial design, video, Arduino, coding





The modern world grows more advanced by the milli-second, thanks to technology.  People have instant access to information and communication channels like never before but there are many harmful effects of this dependence on smart devices, especially amongst children.



Since kids are natively attuned with visual communication and stimuli, we wanted to create a product that is fully engaging while simultaneously helping them to combat the stress of the external world. The ultimate goal was to allow them to momentarily focus on the self. 





A product that mimics the users’ breathing patterns through the use of a Hoberman Sphere, Arduino coding & housing that is minimalistic in aesthetics. The visual appearance of the sphere reflects the real-time contraction and expansion breathing pattern of the users and leads to a relaxed state of mind.  We sought to utilize principles of interaction that would be beneficial to the user in a real-world context.




  • According to a September 2017 article from The Atlantic, the arrival of the smartphone has radically changed every aspect of teenagers’ lives, from the nature of their social interactions to their mental health.

  • Surveys have found that spending more time on social media and other “screen” activities correlates strongly with lower levels of happiness, and higher feelings of loneliness, levels of depression, and risk of suicide.

  • According to the Children’s Mental Health Report from the Child Mind Institute in 2015, 80 percent of kids with a diagnosable anxiety disorder and 60 percent of kids with diagnosable depression are not getting treated.

  • Kids who practice yoga, meditation and mindfulness build skills of attention, self awareness, self management leading to more responsible decision making and prosocial behavior

  • Mindfulness meditation can help relieve anxiety and depression

  • Meditation does help manage anxiety, depression and pain, according to the 47 studies analyzed in JAMA Internal Medicine

  • Studies have shown the effects of meditation on attention in adults with and without ADD/ADHD, and there’s some evidence that it can help kids focus, too.

  • Anecdotal evidence, and some scientific evidence, suggests that meditation in schools may help improve the things that school officials like to see – grades and attendance.

  • One study found that kids who learned mindful awareness practices (MAPs) had better executive function after eight weeks of training twice a week.






Many teachers and researchers feel that with kids and trauma, there has to be a physical component, because asking traumatized kids to sit still and meditate right off the bat is not going to work, and it may actually backfire.





Initial concepts centered around the study of plants and how well-being could be represented via a device that we created.  We soon realized the marketplace is crowded in this area and that helping humans would be much more interesting to us and impactful.

 We narrowed the focus down to children, when we realized, with secondary research to back up our assumptions, that kids these days are incredibly stressed out.  From our analysis, we also know that kids are very particular about the things they engage with.  They enjoy interacting visually stimulating objects.




For children and in particular, a segment suffering from anxiety, we aimed for a very simple aesthetic and mechanical approach.  We became fascinated by the Hoberman Sphere, a common toy that is complex in its mechanics, yet easy to comprehend and appreciate. Its contraction and expansion actions could represent the act of breathing effectively. 


From an industrial design stand-point, we wanted to make the housing look as minimalistic as possible so that the user could focus solely on the contraction and expansion of the sphere and become extremely self-aware and disappear into the meditative moment with little distraction.





We made numerous rough optimizations by exploring different motors and ultimately chose an Arduino, a stepper motor and built a spooling mechanism that eventually resulted in the Hoberman sphere expanding and contracting to create a analog to physical breathng .

Utilizing MDF to create circular layers that we bonded and finished cleanly, the housing is minimal and unobtrusive.

The main hurdle in the design was to make the whole system run on 5V of current.




The concept includes two interactions.

  1. Kids wear a simple terry covered band, which obscures a hidden stretch sensor that senses belly movement.

  2. The Hoberman sphere mimics the breathing action visually.




We conducted user evaluation sessions with five kids (three girls and two boys; average age 8). We fitted the terry band (stretch sensor) around the participants.  After wearing for five minutes in a quiet room with the BLOOM device secured to the ceiling , a casual interview was conducted.

The purpose of the user evaluation was to survey whether they can understand the intuitiveness and interaction of the design. It was a sustained straightforward evaluation. We asked the participants to draft the qualitative assessment in a graph.


From the evaluation, we hypothesized that all the kids felt pleasant and relaxed after using BLOOM for only 5 minutes.  We have validated the design with a fair measure of participants. However, we need to examine with a large number of users to authenticate the model.

One kid commented that “I need this for my Dad!" Haha :).


We believe that there is an excellent opportunity to reduce anxiety through Bloom.




We think the aesthetic elegance and usefulness of this  product could lend itself to a consumer good to be installed in a child's room.  Instead of 'timeouts', the child can go and meditate and calm their anxiety in a more productive manner through BLOOM.  In addition, the product could potentially be useful in hospitals to aid in the following conditions:

  • Anxiety and depression.

  • Asthma.

  • Even as a waiting room activity

We would explore wireless in any future development.








Be an early BLOOMer!

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Taking Interactivity Over The Top


Advisors: Eric Forman (SVA Physical Computing

Team: Johny Vino, Mia Darling

Roles: research, ideation, industrial design, prototyping, user testing, concept, video 

Categories: physical computing, UX, industrial design, video, Arduino, coding



"The world meets nobody halfway. When you want something, you gotta take it."

Lincoln Hawk 'Over The Top'




Human dependence with technology has made people less physically sociable.  We live in a world in which 'connection' more often than not means virtual and digital.  Technology has reduced physical contact with fellow humans considerably and created a future of challenging human interactions. 



Create an interactive experience that combines a basic human physical interaction with motivating factors that could keep the users as well as spectators fully engaged.




Arm wrestling is as primal as it gets in terms of competition between two human beings.  All you need are two willing contestants and two arms  It usually has less than savory connotations as evidenced by the amazing 1980's film starring Sylvester Stallone.  Why did we want to make arm wrestling 'interactive'?  Simply put, we were interested in merging physical contact, technology, competition, ugliness, beauty and a dose of surrealism into one weird concoction.  Plus we wanted to see our fellow classmates get whipped up into a competitive fury and have some fun after a challenging semester.  The dichotomy and incongruity of low brow arm wrestling mixed with high brow aesthetics and coding was what we found interesting.  Plus it was fun to see our cool coding instructors participate in Hands Down as their students passionately cheered them on.








  • The time and effort we put into our virtual worlds limit the time to connect and especially to communicate on a deeper level in our real world.

  • Technique and overall arm strength are the two greatest contributing factors to winning an arm wrestling match. Other factors such as the length of an arm wrestler's arm, his/her muscle and arm mass/density, hand grip size, wrist endurance and flexibility, reaction time, as well as countless other traits, can add to the advantages of one arm wrestler over another.

  • While sports fans typically don’t have any effect or influence on an athlete’s physical ability, they do have the power to make or break some professionals’ psyche and can enhance or undermine concentration.

  • 1st semester of graduate school in Interaction Design at the School of Visual Arts is extremely challenging as we are confronted with an onslaught of knowledge and tight timelines, culminating in zombified PTSD-like symptoms amongst fellow classmates. We need some way to release stress.

  • We live in an era where the boundaries between high and low brow are very much blurred.




From the onset, we wanted to make the experience as rewarding for the spectators as it would be for the competitors. 



  • Visual and auditory prompts on the arm wrestling base could signify who was winning or losing during actual live game play. These could be motivating factors.

  • Heart rate monitor of each contestant broadcast to the viewers.

  • On screen we could display 3-2-1 timer for when match begins to create drama and put focus on timing.

  • Display money purse and wins / loss record of each contestant.



  • On large screen behind arm wrestlers we could show a visual display of the heart rate of each wrestler

  • the struggle of wrestlers on screen using a simple visualization like a clock hand that sways from one side to the other based on arm angle

  • Countdown timer for 60-second time limit to increase tension.

  • A way for viewers to gamble on who they thought would win and become more engaged through a mobile device app that could be live broadcast on to the screen.





  • Consider right & left hand contestants when programming the sensor for winner and loser.

  • Accurate visualization of arm angles and heart rate

  • How to code this!




The relationship between competitors, spectators, physical devices, physical computing and surrealism all had something to do with Hands Down. 






  • translucent 'mat' or cover (silicone or acrylic)

  • balsa wood for base

  • Elbow pad support (red vinyl to emulate actual arm wrestling elbow supports)

  • Accelerometer (read movement of arms) or Proximity Sensor to win game

  • LCD displays to display winner and loser

  • LED light strips

  • Arduino

  • Speaker (to prompt WINNER WINNER! LOSER! LOSER!)

  • 3D printed or wooden handgrips w heart rate monitor connected (questionable)

  • Apple Watch (questionable)

  • Myoflex - Measures strength? (questionable)




'High end' aesthetics for a 'low-end' sport with hidden interaction details.  




We of course tested it ourselves throughout the process, relieving stress by grappling hands and fighting to the finish.  


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A study in motion sequences




Your school has built a new student center and is looking to you for some design expertise. Please create your proposal based on the prompt below: 

Design a welcome experience for visitors of the new center utilizing the large-format touch screen kiosk in the lobby, which displays upcoming events, news headlines, and next week’s weather forecast. Create three motion sequences that can loop in the lobby, transitioning between the different types of content. 




Create a simple touch-screen interface for the fictional Grayson University, News, Events, Navigation, Community & Weather have been factored in as the primary categories.  The screensaver modes show the beautiful campus as well as some of the student life.  Every day the GRAYSON GAZETTE would update with up-to-date news relevant to students.  The EVENTS tab would show everything from concerts to talks to run clubs.  NAVIGATION would allow the user to view campus maps and obtain directions.  COMMUNITY would be a source for local private and public events as well as a way for students to look for roommates, jobs or items to buy.  Lastly, the WEATHER section has easy-to-read detailed forecasts for the week ahead.  This interface would be used by current students as well as prospective students and parents visiting the campus.






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Exploring micro interactions in the form of a dumpling making app


Advisor: Joshua Musick (United Technologies), John Leonard (frog)

Roles: wire-framing, concept, research, UX/UI design, prototyping

Categories: UX/UI, prototyping, micro-interaction




Create an app prototype that demonstrates how to learn a new activity while utilizing micro interactions to engage the user.


If you love Chinese dumplings, eating them is great but making them may seem like a monumental task.  It’s not as hard as you may think and it can be a fun communal experience.



Utilizing the prototype tool Principal, I was instructed to create a how-to app with small micro-interactions.  I created an app with extensive step-by-step directions guiding the user how to make homemade Chinese dumplings from scratch.  The pay-off for the micro-interaction is at the end, once you're ready to cook.


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Never leave home without your essentials


Advisors: Matthew Borgatti

Roles: research, interviews, synthesis, prototype ideation/concept, prototype fabrication, app wire-framing

Categories: UX research/strategy, product design, UX / UI, industrial design, prototyping



Modern lifestyles have increased our levels of forgetfulness.  We've all forgotten something essential to our daily routine in a rush to leave the house to get to work or an appointment. It can be annoying or even wreak havoc on your day.


How might we create an IoT object that will help the user avoid forgetting essential items as they rush out of their home every day? 

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RECALL is a smart doorknob that helps you remember things you typically forget. It fits into the ecosystem of successful smart home / lifestyle products such as Nest and Tile. 

While most smart doorknobs focus on locking and unlocking the home, RECALL focuses on making sure you have one less thing to think about. Rather than ruin your day, make you late, or feel more stressed for forgetting something, RECALL makes sure you don’t leave your house without all of your essential items.


It is intended for those in a rush who often forget important daily items like their phone, keys, wallet, watch, glasses or lunch.

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The RECALL smart door knob can easily replace the interior doorknob on any entrance door.

  • Metal knob has a built-in capacitive finger scanner to identify each unique user

  • Passive RFID sensor then communicates with the ARPT tags attached to your essential items

  • When the RFID does not sense the proximity of the tag, a corresponding icon will turn on in bright orange, signaling to the user that they are missing something they might not want to leave home without. 

  • LCD display is programmable with the RECALL app so that each user in a household can use it independently with no confusion.

  • Before you leave your home, the doorknob will read your fingerprint, which will then trigger the sensors revealing any forgotten items by lighting up the matching icons notifying the user to grab the items before leaving.

  • Future iterations would be able to tell the weather and inform the user whether or not they need an umbrella or even sunscreen.



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  • Almost everyone had some sort of routine or place they would put things to help them remember their items but still often forgot them.

  • Feelings of people when they forget an essential item when they rush out:

    • “Annoyed. Inefficient”

    • “I feel really really bad. It ruins my whole day. Especially when I forget lunch because buying lunch at work is expensive.”

    • “Sort of like, UGHHHHH YOU IDIOT. Especially because I forget or lose things a lot.”

  • Typical items people forget:

    • keys, wallet, phone, work ID, MetroCard, lunch, headphones, glasses, umbrella



  • Continue to develop app for onboarding and pairing.

  • Continue usability testing and iteration

  • If we had a working prototype, we could test with users and continue interviewing them with questions like:

    • How was the general user experience? Do you think it actually helped you in term of the problem of forgetting things? What do you think about the physical appearance of the product? How was your interactions with the RECALL door knob different from your doorknob at home?

  • Continue to consider real-world constraints as we push the idea further, like how much space needed for batteries, how system is charged and batteries replaced and what the limitations of the RF tag detection are

  • Future models could utilize wi-fi capabilities to show the weather on the LCD display.

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