Personal project

2018 Fall

This project was done during my personal time. It addresses the issue of adult children who live away from their aging parents but still want to take care of their parents and balancing their busy lives at the same time.

In collaboration with graduate industrial design student Joshua Han.


I came to the US by myself at the age of 16. Now it's been 9 years since I left Beijing, I'm already very used to life away from home and family. And thanks to technology, it's getting easier and easier to stay in touch with my parents. 


However, as they start aging, I start noticing their decline in memory, their frustration dealing with all the new tools and technology. I feel there still parts missing because I can't physically be there with them. I want them to know that I really care about them even we live far apart. I wish someone was there to help them with daily tasks and errands and to ensure their wellbeing.


Josh came to me with this idea of peace of mind service for adult children and aging parents. We've worked together before for the Uber Elevate project, so I immediately said yes!


In this project, my role was to design the mobile app experience and Josh was in charge of product design.


With the growing number of seniors and majority of them intend to continue living in their current homes for the next 5-10 years, there are needs for these seniors to be taken care of when their children are living distant.


And while the adult children are busy with their own family and career, they still want to provide care for their aging parents when they can't physically be there with them.

According to the CDC , the rapid expansion is explained by the size of the baby boom generation and the baby boomers’ long lifespans.

How Neighborly Works
User Journey Using the Neighborly App with the Product
Mobile App Interaction

The adult child, the aging parent, the student helper each has a distinct color. representing different role.


On the left, the video shows the adult child David schedule an installation for his dad Tim and the task was accepted and completed by the student helper Jason.


Later after the device has been successfully installed, David scheduled a grocery delivery task for Tim. The task was accepted by the student help, Jennifer. Jennifer followed the shopping list and delivered the groceries to Tim's house.

The Neighborly Device

The device was designed to ensure security. When the student helper scans their QR code at the device, it identifies his/her identity. And the bag can only be unlocked for helpers that are doing delivery jobs.  For tasks other than delivery tasks, the device function as a check-in system, it proves the helpers' physical location. 


Research Questions

These are some questions I want to understand while working on this project:

What are the things the elderly need help with?

What are some problems the elderly have when they use smartphone/app?

What are the concerns people would have for this service?

How comfortable are the elderly using digital tools?

What are some existing tools designed for old people? characteristics? features?

What are the concerns the adult children have for their parents?

What tasks are the college students willing to do/not?

What are the existing patterns and products the elderly are familiar with?

What can be done to make interactions with mobile apps easier for older users?

Designing for the Elderly

"Losing vision clarity as a result of age makes consuming content on smartphones difficult, especially when it comes to text size and light quality.


Color vision problems in the blue-yellow spectrum are often detected among people in their mid-70s."




Some other characteristics for the seniors using digital devices


  • take longer to learn new applications or devices

  • take longer to complete tasks

  • use different search strategies

  • perform worse on tasks relying on memory

  • be more distractible

  • have a harder time dealing with errors

  • make more erratic or accidental movements with the pointer

  • make more input errors

  • have more trouble hitting on-screen targets.


Interview Insights

 We interviewed some seniors at the senior center. And here are some insights:


Things seniors need help with: (things they ask their children or grandchildren to help them with)

Heavy lifting/moving

furniture assembling/disassembling


preparing meals


teaching them how to use tech devices

taking out trash…


Things their adult children concerns the most :

Safety (especially in extreme weathers)



Problem seniors have using digital devices:

bad vision

“Smart phones are too smart for me”

learn and forget 


Most of them are comfortable texting, sending emails and using Apps on smart phones and tablets.

Some have hired college student helpers to do some tasks for them

System Diagrams

1st draft

2nd draft

Low Fidelity Wireframes
Medium Fidelity Wireframes
Deciding Final Styles

I did a lot of exploration on this list/calendar button because when I was testing with people, the feedback I got was that for this button they can't recognize which one is selected. So I tried different variations to make this clear for users.

Final Design

© 2018 Catherina Han