my.Flow

Design and development of a companion mobile app to a smart tampon device. Receiver of the Maker Faire Editor's Choice Award.


The final screens of the app.

Project Intro

my.Flow is a smart tampon that senses saturation of the tampon, relays that information via Bluetooth to a companion mobile application, and sends a push notification to notify the user that her tampon needs to be changed. It also collects data to display a more accurate, personalized period tracker.
my.Flow was originally created for Eric Paulos' course Critical Making at UC Berkeley by a team of 3 engineers and 2 designers, including myself. Since then, we have been seeking funding to fully develop my.Flow as a product.
I designed and developed the front-end of the companion mobile app.

The Problem

The topic of the period is treated like taboo when it should really be openly discussed, especially so that young women can learn and not internalize shame about their bodies.
My team and I set out to change the direction of the period conversation by developing a smart device and a companion app.

User Research

We conducted surveys on more than 200 women (through Amazon's Mechanical Turk and asking them to send in video clips), asking them what kind of information they wanted about their menstrual cycle that they couldn't already get. We used the responses to decide what kinds of functions our device would have and also to validate a need for this product.

The Process

For the development of the companion mobile app, I researched existing period tracking apps while considering the our survey results. Since my.Flow collects data real-time through the tampon, my.Flow’s companion app will eliminate requiring user input and will instead focus on providing clear, simple analyses of the information collected from the tampon device.
I started out by thinking about what functions the mobile app should have as well as hashing out the details given the contraints of our data.

I considered several important "measurements" our data should show, like flow heaviness and fullness of tampon. But, I struggled the most on figuring out how to visually display those measurements in a straightforward, yet meaningful way. I contemplated different graphs and units of measurement to use.

The Solution

Below are my final designs.
On the home page, I added information that the user could easily understand at a glance and would find most important, including the "fullness" of the current tampon, the current day of the cycle, the number of tampons used that day, and duration of time the current tampon has been inserted in for.
We knew we wanted to be able to tell the user how full her current tampon was at all times. I also decided that the two most useful representations of data were heaviness of flow and tampon usage throughout a given cycle. At the time, I couldn't figure out what units to use to represent "heaviness" of flow, but I now think that it could be simply represented as "heavy" and "light", based relatively on the user's flow. Although, more user testing and feedback is needed to confirm this and flesh out how those "units" would be determined.

Thoughts for the Future

Although we were able to create a working prototype of our smart device, we didn't have time to fully test the usability of our app. While we iterated a lot on the data display, a lot of assumptions were still made that could've been affirmed with user testing.
Through this project, I learned to work with constraints imposed by both our user needs and our hardware. I also learned from the challenge of designing for such a diverse user group.
Overall, this was a really exciting project to work on and the one that fostered my interest in designing for healthcare.