PeriBear

A fuzzy companion for young girls who are experiencing periods for the first time



When
Fall 2018

Tools
Sketch
InVision
Xcode + Swift
Arduino


collaboration
Team of 2
The Challenge

Make an IoT product to help solve social problems / improve people's life.



About

PeriBear is an emotional support teddy bear that helps make period a little more bearable for young girls. PeriBear tells you when your period's about to start, and heats up so that you can hold it when you're having menstrual pain.



Links



The Problem


Period cramps are often unbearable, especially for young girls.

Around 60-93% of young adolescents experience painful menstrual cramps, with 5-20% reporting severe dysmenorrhea or pain that prevents them from participating in their usual activities.

Heat pads can be as effective as over-the-counter medicine, without the side effects.

Side effects of over-the-counter medicine for period cramps include risk of gastric ulcer, haemorrhage, heart attack, and impaired kidney function. On the other hand, topical heat at 102°F(39°C) is as effective as ibuprofen and more effective than paracetamol. In fact, applying heat is already a well-known way of coping with menstrual pain.

Existing heat products are not particularly usable in context of periods.

The microwaveable heat pad requires women to get up and microwave the pad when they’re rolling in pain. Electric heat pads needs to be plugged to an outlet. One-time stick-on heat pads need to be replaced every after single use, which just adds onto the monthly burden of replacing pads or tampons.

Periods or women's health is not discussed as often as it should be.

With this project, we aim to facilitate the discussion about periods as well as providing a meaningful way to help make periods better.



The Idea

PeriBear has two main functions:


1. Tells you when your period is coming by ambient light.

2. Heats up so that you can use it as a heat pad when you're having menstrual pain.


Both light and heat are controlled with the mobile app. You can also track period and get notification from the app.




Understanding the User

Formative Interviews

I interviewed several young women to learn how they track periods and how they deal with menstrual pain. Based on the interview, I constructed a user persona.



User Persona



Hyunji
Seoul, KR

  • 5th grade student
  • Experiences severe menstrual pain every month
  • Uses period tracking app

Hyunji experiences severe menstrual pain during her periods. She doesn't know what pills work best for her, so she usually takes the pills that she could find at home or pills that are provided at school. Her mom sometimes buys attachable heat pads for her, but sometimes she forgets to.


Goals
  • Managing menstrual pain
  • Not having to buy & replace items (pills, period products) regularly

Frustrations
  • Unwanted, unrelated push alerts from period apps in public



Sketching & Wireframing

Early Sketch


Raspberry Pi was later replaced with Arduino, and SMS notification was later replaced with in-app notification.


Wireframe

Quickly made a clickable low-fidelity prototype with the wireframe to test and get feedback.





UI Design

Visual Elements



App UI







Prototyping

After many nights of coffee and struggle, we were able to make a working prototype of our product. We used Arduino to prototype the bear, Xcode to build the iOS app and Bluetooth to connect the app to the bear.



The making of PeriBear





At the demo and exhibition





Reflections & Takeaways

We presented PeriBear at New York City Design Factory (NYCDF), and we won the first prize! The timeline was extremely hectic, and it pushed us way out of our comfort zone. I learned Xcode and Swift along the way and got my hands on Arduino. We are pleased with what we made and willing to take the project further.


Future Plans

Since we had to make a prototype as quickly as possible for the demo, we had to put our focus slightly more on finishing the prototype than usability. In the future, we would do 1) more end-user research and 2) design for all the possible cases, such as onboarding, log out/sign in the process, error pages, and empty states.



Roles & Contributions

Phai took ownership of building the Arduino circuit, and I took ownership of creating the iOS app and connecting the app and the circuit through Bluetooth. We both helped with the other's part. We designed the app's wireframe together, and I did the visual design.