Corus: A family sleep solution for Philips Healthcare
Most of the sleep solutions available in market today are targeted towards individual benefit, but, there is a niche for a solution that acknowledges family structure as a whole to enhance total sleep quality. Corus is a holographic candle system that helps cohabitating couples become more synchronized in their sleep routines. It includes a set of holographic candles and an app that connect to the home’s lighting system.
Design Brief : We were challenged to design a sleep solution for sleep monitoring and optimization in a multi-user context.The prompt gave us the freedom to define families, sleep, and health while also encouraging us to design with future-facing technologies in mind.
Honors : Published as a research paper for Conference on Tangible, Embedded and Embodied Interactions, Japan.
The main idea behind Corus is to help couples get a sense of balance in their preferred schedules by calculating the optimal, mutual go-to-bed time for the couple, and making them aware of the compromises to be made at any time through subtle display features on the mobile application.
The main components of Corus are a main candle in the bedroom and other satellite candles around the home, and a mobile app that connects all satellite candles to the main one through the cloud. The candles are holographic projection votives that are connected to home's lighting system through bluetooth. Users can control the lights either through the mobile app, which collects the user inputs, or the candles, which respond to gestural inputs picked up by motion sensors. The cloud also connects to user's social media, pulling relevant information and displaying in the form of art to remind and hopefully delight the users each morning.
After sunset, the candles light up automatically. They have motion sensors that allow the flames to respond to people walking past or other motions. The satellite candles flicker to notify the couple of bedtime approaching. If desired, bedtime time can be delayed with snooze gesture to the candle or through the app. As the bedtime nears, the flames fade slowly and lights in living areas start to dim, while the bedroom lights brighten up. The idea is to inflict a subtle nudge for couples to approach the bedroom.
When couple is in bed, the main candle hears the audio input and is responsive to it. While the conversation has energy the lights and the candle remain lit. As the conversation slows, the lights and the candle dim and once it stops, the candle burns out, and the lights turn off.
As the sun rises, the holograph reappears: a gently animated wax-like abstract artwork. We envision that the cloud can connect to users’ email and social media to pull information like travel plans, birthdays etc. that can be visualized to delight the users, which otherwise can default to weather information for the day.
The mobile app is used at first to set goals and initial preferences, and then functions as a secondary notification for approaching bedtime and a dashboard of analytics of evening conversation energy, dynamics, and volume.
Using smartphones and tablets, the couple can use the Corus app to control the lights manually or delay bedtime as necessary. There’s also a gestural input to manually turn off lights (pinch the flame), snooze the reverse alarm/delay the lights turning off (fan the flame), and turn the lights back on (snap the flame).
Feedback through Colors
The candles themselves offer feedback to users through their color. Each of the users is provided with a unique hue color, either yellow or blue. The candle’s color, both on the app as well as the hologram, is somewhere in the middle of these two hues. This helps the couples get a sense of balance in their preferred schedules, in terms of who is getting closer to their preferred schedule and who might be making more of a compromise.
Amongst various family contexts, we felt that addressing the struggle of newly cohabitating couples was challenging. The transitions when two individuals with potentially distinct lifestyles start living together require adjustments in order to develop new sleep routines. To tackle the issue of sleep consistency and quality, we looked closely not only at the physical but also the relationship health throughout the design process.
Our research methods have ranged from literature review, creating a survey with open-ended questions, and conducting more in-depth interviews with newly cohabitating couples which included showing some design provocations to our potential users.
We did some deeper mapping of the experiences of each of our interviewees. As we did this, we started to see a pattern: couples who have dyadic sleep schedules have few, if any, issues around sleep, and most couples who do experience pain points around sleep could improve their situation with a more synchronized sleep schedule.
We formulated an understanding of couple's journey:
They are excited to embark their life together.
Once they move-in, stress is brought on by the negotiations they make in their individual and that of their partner's needs. This period can include some frustrations, but once it works, its a fair give-and-take of change in behaviors.
Once the couple achieves rhythm in their cohabitation, they continue to have moments of adjustment but much less frequently.
The journey of making accommodations demonstrates three main territories where adjustments and conflicts arise:
Incompatible sleep behaviors
Different sleep cycles
Balance of privacy and intimacy.
Utopic and Dystopic Provocations
As a part of our research, we showed the couples some utopian and dystopian storyboards that lead them to compare and talk about their own arrangements, giving us good insights into issues faced by the couples. We gathered very stark reactions from them.
We started synthesizing what constitutes as ideal sleep for couples and what are the opportunities for design interventions. The focus areas ranged from addressing moments of friction to positive bonding experiences. We ultimately chose to promote dyadic sleep since most of the physical and relationship health issues stem from asynchronous sleep cycles.
While focusing on these ideals, we wanted to keep in mind all the new technologies that are becoming more prevalent in our world. While synthesizing our research interviews, one specific quote stood out to us
"You purchase this kind of thing with the intention to change your behaviors"
So, instead of convincing couples that dyadic sleep is a good idea for them, we focused on creating a solution that is simple, intuitive, and hopefully somewhat attractive.
Detailing User Interactions
Wireframes show the user on-boarding process from sign-up to goal setting to the input of preferences. The home screen leads to light controls for the home’s various rooms, to preference resetting and modification, and to more deeper analysis. A pop-up notification shows when users are on their phone and a screensaver that lights up to notify the user.
We created three-dimensional prototypes to demonstrate Corus’ holographic projection votive using a Pepper's ghost technique. Corus is currently in video prototype stage which showcases our user flow and experience.
We see Corus as a solution that not only assists in the physical health of each partner but also in promoting couple's relationship health. Corus tackles sleep as a pillar of relationship health, but also points toward some other metrics of relationship health, like, communication and closeness. There are many pillars of relationship health and as a team, we wonder how solutions like Corus that offer ambient feedback and gentle prodding could help in these other areas that are key to a successful relationship.