Nimbus - Night time lighting solution for the elderly

Thesis Project - May 2019 ||| Skills: User Research, UX Design, Product Design

Population ageing, is a dynamic demographic trend all over the world. As designers, there is an increasing need for us to cater to this elderly section of society with empathy, in order to build products that can solve some of the emerging issues that the elderly community face. In this project I looked at the homes of the elderly, their challenges with lighting products and possibilities for lighting products to help enhance their daily lives.

The final output, Havells Nimbus is a home lighting solution for the elderly. It merges the portable light within the fixture allowing for the user to easily detach or attach the torch from the holder as and when required. The fixture as a whole, acts as a mood setting, ambient night lamp before sleeping while the detachable portable torch allows for easy navigation at night. The form of the torch allows it to be kept wherever you go to light up that space.

For this project I received the Bir Award at the annual convocation ceremony.

This was a client based brief from Havells India Pvt Ltd. The client mainly wanted to focus on building new disruptive products for the Home Lighting segment. For this they spoke about looking at what ‘home’ is as a space, the different user groups that could be targeted and exploring the concept of lighting as an experience and not a static product. The 3 main points that I took from the brief were:

  • Human Centric Lighting
  • Meaningful intelligence
  • Experiential aspects of lighting

Target user group:
Elderly people of age 65+

While reading and reflecting on the use of lights in homes, I began to brainstorm about the different contexts of usage. Trying to look back at the different types of users I have seen interacting with lighting products in a house, I thought about how each type of user is different in their need from lighting.

During this initial process, I stumbled upon papers that spoke about the changes in the way we deal with lighting as we age. Research work online reinforced my personal experiences of the problems elderly people might face with lighting products due to factors such as vision or mobility. Thus, I chose to situate my research within the context of senior citizen’s homes so as to discover specific opportunity areas for lighting for this user group

Research Phase

Primary Research - Study details

  • Visits to 4 households with senior citizens living alone (Interviews and observations)
  • Interviews with 2 people who lived with their elderly parents
  • Interviews with 2 people whose parents lived alone
  • Interview with 1 ophthalmologist

Consolidation of data

  • Converting notes to consolidated findings for each visit / conversation
  • Affinity mapping to find patterns across users and houses and thus develop thematic insights

Why this user group?

What are the factors that change with age making this a relevant segment to look at while building lighting products for the home?

Chosen opportunity area

An interesting aspect about this loss of information was looking at the concept of interpreters. Although the use of formal trained interpreters is almost an unheard phenomenon in India, many of the doctors and patients mentioned that often informal interpreters are used to convey the message. This again adds another layer of interpretation and possibility for loss or change of message. Details on types of interpreters are explained further in this article.

Havells factory visit - Neemrana

Ideation Phase:

The ideation phase explored the possibilities for new lighting products that built upon the research findings within the problem space. Throughout this process of ideating on form and function, one of the main questions being addressed was how can the experience be brought into the product?

Scenario Building

By playing out the scenarios within which my product would be situated, I was able to iterate on possibilties for intervention

Ideation- Diverge phase

The aim of the divergent phase of ideation was to put out as many quick ideas and thoughts about all the different opportunity areas. This also made me ponder further on each of the area which simultaneously helped me pick a specific opportunity area to take forward.

The 30+ ideas differed in level of technology, form and medium, interaction levels and the main aim they were trying to solve but they all were based on the research insights.

Picking ideas- Converge phase

I analysed all the rough ideas for their pros and cons I filtered them down or merged them into single concepts.

At the end of this exercise, I narrowed my ideas down to 4 main concepts and tried to develop them in more detail using annotated sketches. Thus I moved into a second phase of diversion but more deep than wide.

Concept development and evaluation

Dirty Prototyping to understand form

Expert Evaluation

Conducted with 4 Subject Matter Experts from backgrounds of product design, interaction design and lighting Inluded an explanation of the concept with brief, sketches and prototype followed by prepared questions relating to the different criteria

Final Chosen concept

Form ideation

During this process I iterated on the form of the lighting product that could do justic to the concept developed keeping in mind the user group. Some questions that I tried to address were: How would some of the functions andinteractions be shown through the physical signifiers?How could the 2 main elements be brought together to look as a single product aesthetically? How could the form solve for the other functional needs like stability, comfort while holding, heating etc.

Final product - Havells Nimbus

Creating the physical prototype

Working mockup

Nimbus Product brochure

Product packaging