I’m a design researcher in San Francisco, California. These are a few stories about how I approach a challenge, apply user-centered methods, and produce actionable results for product and business decisions.
In 2014, it was clear that the needs older adults were facing were much greater than the available tools. Panasonic, with its brand promise of creating a comfortable home life and its developing Internet-of-Things technologies, established a Health and Wellness innovation team to address this trend. This is the story of how I helped the team understand and stay aligned with the unique needs of these potential customers while designing new products and concepts.
In 2012, China faced an air quality crisis. They faced well-publicized external air quality challenges, including severe increases in PM2.5 levels. Less publicized, but well-known by word of mouth, were the internal air quality challenges, including VOCs (emissions from furniture, etc.), odors (tobacco, waste, etc.), and viruses, compounded by pollution entering from outside. Indoor air quality (IAQ) was 5 to 10 times worse than outdoor air quality, and most people spent 95% of their time indoors.
Panasonic’s Housing group wanted to create a breakthrough and life-enhancing solution for improved IAQ for Chinese urban homes, basing the solution on observed inherent and unmet user needs. I structured a multidisciplinary design team from Panasonic members in both countries and sponsored a team of students in Shanghai’s Tongji University (同济大学). The business unit got some great product elements that they incorporated into their China lineup, they gained an actionable list of product constraints for this new market, and they learned new ways of collaborating to innovate. This case focuses particularly on the power of using story in innovation.
In Japanese families in 2012, mothers, both stay-at-home and working, were the primary parent in charge of home management and child rearing. I joined two Japanese women engineers who hypothesized that young mothers were struggling to manage their responsibilities and hoped for more help with chores from their children. We believed that a Panasonic cloud-based service, linked to in-home hardware, could gamify the process, making it more fun for both generations. Mother’s Helper is the shared cooking app and smart appliance service that we developed and patented from this project.