a balancing act


Endometriosis affects over 200 million worldwide. It is a leading cause of infertility and yet there are currently no cures for this disease. This project explores a concept that would address the root of the condition as well as emotionally and physically empower women with endometriosis to live vibrant lives. 

 
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END.O
a concept to combat endometriosis

 

project description
Endometriosis affects approximately 1 in 10 women causing a lengthy list of symptoms including pelvic pain, chronic fatigue and infertility. More research needs to be done to figure out the true cause, though a main theory holds that it is fueled by estrogen dominance.

Using a combination of bionanosensors and lifestyle changes, END.O sets out to not only be a band-aid for symptoms, but also enhance the quality of life for women living with this frustrating condition. 

experience
systems

role
independent project

advisor
Hugh Dubberly

timeline
4 weeks

 

research + modeling 

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Meet Jessica. She has endometriosis.

Her life is an unpredictable rollercoaster of debilitating fatigue, gut issues, and very painful periods. She feels limited by her condition, uncertain when the symptoms will take her down. When she feels good, she's an efficient worker, a loving partner, and motivated woman. When she gets hit with the multitude of symptoms related to endometriosis, she feels defeated. 

Since endometriosis effects so many elements of a women's life, I wanted to create a concept that would re-empower and inflate them with optimism. 

I interviewed Jessica to get a clear picture of her daily and weekly activities that effect her condition and get a picture of her caregiving network. Additionally, I did secondary research on endometriosis, exploring the symptoms, potential causes, current areas of treatment, and pain points in treating women who suffer from the condition. 

 
 
 

 

Weekly Journey Map

The journey map depicts Jessica's weekly activities and associated emotional and physical responses to each activity

 

 

Jessica's Caregiving Network

Jessica's caregiving network is a network of medical, emotional, social and financial support. The many nodes of this network depict the mutli layered needs and challenges endometriosis creates. 

Creating a design to combat this condition is not a simple medical approach, it requires a holistic understanding and perspective. 

 

 

Through researching endometriosis, interviewing Jessica, and illustrating the complexity of her weekly journey and many layers of caregiving, I sought to design a solution that simplified her life and would ultimately grant her greater freedom in life. 

My next steps involved creating a conceptual model and ecology map of the proposed solution.

 

conceptualizing

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How might we empower women with endometriosis to sustainably manage their health and well-being?

     

     

    Conceptual Model

    To help direct the development of the device and app, I drew out a conceptual model to outline all the different functions and uses I wanted to design for.

    I wanted to design for internal sensors that released and measured hormones as well as an associated app that captured this data. The app also would allow users to track their daily symptoms and enter information regarding their diet, sleep and exercise. 

     

     

    Ecology Map

    The ecology map showcases the interconnectivity between the patient, app, internal bionanosensors, and endometriosis specialist.

     
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    Homeostasis Model

    This feedback loop outlines the goal of the sensors and mobile in association with the channels involved in creating homeostasis.

     
     

    prototyping 

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    Wireframes

    Pretty quickly after generating these rough wireframe ideas, I decided the chat and forum functions of the app were unnecessary. They took away from the core purpose of the app, complicating and adding elements that no longer seemed useful. 

     
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    User Interface Design

    I wanted to use bold colors that weren't overtly female, but spoke to a strong woman. Through rich purple, deep brick, and a pop of turquoise, I wanted a color palette that wasn't shy. Endometriosis is often an invisible disease, and I wanted an aesthetic that spoke up, loud and proud. 
     

     
     

    1. Dashboard  where women can input their daily food intake, exercise, stress inputs and pain. Allows women to draw a rich picture of how their lifestyle impacts their well-being.

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    2. This graph relates to the information coming from the internal bionanasensors. It depicts hormone daily hormone levels in relation to pre-determined set points. 

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    future outcomes

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    Sustainable, Long Term Behavior Change
     

    1. Achieve hormonal balance within a woman’s body after surgery so she won’t have the potential of recurrence
       
    2. Hormones can also be balanced through lifestyle behaviors, like eating foods that don’t negatively disrupt the endocrine system, staying physically active, as estrogen accumulates in fat cells, sleeping enough, and engaging in stress reducing activities like yoga and meditation
       
    3. Once a woman physically and mentally feels well enough, she can set the sensors to manual, meaning they will only track hormone levels, not release hormones
       
    4. Create behavioral changes for the women that can enable her to take her of her body without the need of an external device

     

     

    project learnings

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    What I took away from this project
     

    1. Homeostasis Model
      • The original goal in the feedback loop was to reduce pain from endometriosis. I realized I wanted to move away from the current approaches to this disease, which are mostly around masking symptoms (ie pain) and focus on a longer term solution. While it does require invasive surgery initially, it focuses on the long term possibility for change after surgery. 
         
    2. From Wireframes to Prototype
      • I had more functions in the wireframes than I actually ended up prototyping. After feedback from my advisor, I removed the "support network" section which included being able to chat directly from the app and have forum access to other women with endometriosis. My advisor saw this section of the app as diluting the app and adding layers that didn't actually support the user. 
      • This was an example where simplifying was a means to strengthen the product. 
         
    3. The App: Data Graph
      • My initial concepts had the app as a tool focused on the data received from the sensors. While this data is useful for a woman's doctor, it wasn't a tangible method of personal support for the woman (unless she's really into data).
      • The data portion of the app acts to empower women when in the doctor's office so they have more upfront information that they can bring into their appointments
      • Instead, I changed the focal point of the app to be the tool towards creating lifestyle and behavior change. It acts both as a log where women can track changes in their body and lifestyle which in turn shows them what methods work best in supporting them to feel good.
      • The app is an awareness tool that becomes a poignant instrument in showing women the positive outcomes of their lifestyle changes. 

     

    You can see the full project presentation here