CMS.634 Designing Interactions (2017 Fall) Final Project
'Connected Lighting for Caring Cities'

In-class Project
Designing Interactions
MIT Design Lab
Philips Lighting
8 weeks
Team of 4
Our project, 'LightLounge', is a public lounge with therapy light that allows citizens to compensate the lack of sunlight during dim winter days. LightLounge's main goal is to tackle seasonal depression and bring the mental healthcare to a publicly accessible level.
  • What is our definition of a caring city?
  • How can we use light in an innovative way as a medium of a caring city?
  • A working prototype of a LightLounge model
  • Screen prototype for the kiosk

Problem Space

People who live further north in the northern hemisphere are often familiar with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), also known as the “winter blues” or “winter depression”. SAD is a mood disorder in which people who usually have normal mental health experience depressive symptoms as the seasons change. SAD affects people both mentally and physically. The lack of sunlight causes 3 major issues, which can lead to severe follow-up problems.

  • Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)
  • Vitamin D Deficiency
  • Nitric Oxide (NO) Deficiency

About two-thirds of people with major depression never seek appropriate treatment from different causes. The reasons for this include social stigma, mistaking it for temporary sadness or believing they could snap out of it after some time.

Concept Sketches

Understanding the User

User Persona


  • Office Worker
  • 32 years old
  • Commutes by MBTA
  • Relies heavily on caffeine
Sarah is aware that she feels tired in cloudy days and she's affected by seasonal moods. She doesn’t have time to take care of her mood changes and mental health. She could use some holidays, but her hectic work schedule won’t allow that. She cares about her health and productivity, so she takes multivitamin pills, especially in the winter.
  • Managing her health, both physical and mental
  • Reduce her caffeine intake
  • She doesn't have enough time or money to go to see the psychiatrist.

First Iteration

  • There are four seats for the passengers to sit while they're waiting for the subway.
  • There are two light sources: the ceiling light (one for each seat) and the back light.
  • It uses pressure sensor to detect if someone has sit on the seat.
  • The light below the seat is an indicator for how long each person has been sitting on. It starts from green, and gradually turns to red. If the designated time is over, the light above the seat is turned off.

Concept Renders

First Prototype

Feedbacks & Reflections

  • How do we let people know how much light they need, and how do we let them find out how much light they're getting from LightLounge?
  • How do we make LightLounge benefit more people than four at a time?
  • How do we let people know what LightLounge is and what to do with it?

Second Iteration: Final Form

  • People can enter in and out without restriction.
  • Users can tap their Charlie cards (Nickname for Boston's MTA card) when entering the LightLounge, to track how much light they are getting from the LightLounge.
  • Users encounter a kiosk before entering the lounge where they see the visualized data and tap their cards.
  • Users don't need to tap the card on their way out. The proximity sensor terminates the time tracking when the user leaves the lounge. This is due to the fact that when the train arrives, users must leave without any delay.

User Journey


Sarah wakes up to go to work. It’s still dark at this time, and it’s slightly raining. She feels tired and doesn’t feel like she’s fully waken up. She contemplates on how tired she is and then gets off to work.


Sarah walks to the end of the platform to the LightLounge. She taps her Charlie Card to see how much light she’s getting.


Sarah enjoys simulated light while waiting for the train.


When the train arrives, she walks out without tapping the card. The proximity sensor senses user walking out, and updates her light acquisition data.


Sarah goes to work feeling less tired. Using LightLounge every day on her commute improves her sleeping cycles in the long-term, and help reduce her caffeine intake. Her productivity at work is improved as well as her overall mental and physical health.


When a Charlie card isn't tapped
The screen on the kiosk shows information about LightLounge when it's resting: what it is and why you need it.

Tap on the Charlie card to see how it changes!

When a Charlie card is tapped
The screen shows how much sunlight the person got with LightLounge.

This prototype is made with Framer. Click around!

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