Rouse

A coffee machine for a better day ahead

Rouse is a coffee maker that redesigning the morning coffee routine. By waking users up with the sound and smell of coffee preparation, rouse provide a smooth transition to a new day ahead.

Team

co-design with Paola Aldana

My Role

Design Research, Concept Development, Interaction Design, Interface Design, Prototyping

Tools

Particle Photon, Rhinoceros, Adobe Suite, CNC Milling, 3D Printing Ceramics

In a nutshell

Problem

For many people, the morning ritual would not be complete without a steaming cup of coffee. However, before having the stimulating drink, we have to drag ourselves out of bed, go to the kitchen with sleepy eyes and serve the coffee machine…

Goal

How would it feel to wake up and already have that cup of coffee waiting for you by your bedside? We would like to sketch a new morning coffee experience that gets people out of bed on the right side.

Target Group

Adults who had a hard time getting out of bed and would like to have a cup of warm, stimulating  coffee in the morning.

Solution

We redesign the morning coffee routine and move the coffee maker from the kitchen to the bedroom. By connecting with smartphone, the coffee is prepared automatically in the morning and wake users up gently by its sound and smell.

Motivation

Narrowing down

Many areas of our lives are invaded by the so-called “smart” objects, yet these new technology often overpass the expectations and routines of everyday users and do little in enriching our culture and experience. In the context of coffee preparation, we would like to explore how “high tech” can be merged into our daily ritual without sacrificing “high touch”. Where does the “human touch” fit into our highly technological work world? How smart home can seamlessly support existing routines, without demanding extra effort from the user?

Instead of just drinking coffee randomly, the coffee consuming is highly related to our daily activities. Our research started from the time and motivation that people usually have coffee, for example:

The timing of drinking coffee varies from person to person, and the practice of each occasion differs from one another. Among these, we concentrate on the “morning coffee routine” for the challenges in the combination of its sweet spots and pain points.

Problem: the morning coffee routine

This is how our day starts:

For many people, the morning ritual would not be complete without a steaming cup of coffee. But before the morning coffee, there’s actually an unpleasant process to go through – dragging ourselves out of bed, and stumbling bleary-eyed into the kitchen to prepare the warm, stimulating drink.

Initial idea

With the help from coffee, is there a better way to start a day?

To make the morning coffee ritual even more pleasant and simple, we would like to redesign the routine and allow users to skip some unpleasant steps in the morning and enjoy the coffee right after waking up.

Research

Sleeping beside a coffee machine?

In order to know how it feels to have coffee preparation equipments beside the bed, we did an experiment by moving our coffee machine to the bedroom, setting up the machine in the evening, sleeping right next to it, and making a cup of coffee right after waking up the next morning. 

We documented each step and how we felt at that moment. Here are the summarized upsides and downsides:

How coffee makers work?

Furthermore, we performed reverse engineering and took apart different coffee machines to deduce how a cup of coffee is made. The deconstruction reveal the black box of coffee makers and extracted the working principles behind them.

User Story

We sketched the first version of user journey for our idea and analyzed the experience in each step. The blue stickers and notes are for positive feelings, yellow for neutral, and red for negative experiences needed to be optimized.

Framing the goals

Based on former research, we set up these directions:

Internal
External
Functionality
Texture
Volume

Our Solution

Coffee as an alarm clock

Rouse is a coffee maker designed for the bedroom context. User sets and prepares the machine before going to bed. The next morning, Rouse begins brewing the coffee on the settled time and wake user up. 

Setting up before bed

Before going to sleep, simply place the smartphone nearby Rouse. The near field communication enables the connection between machine to  the smartphone and sets the “alarm clock” on the right time base on user’s schedule.

Awakened by coffee

Next morning, the gentle sound of boiling water and wafting aroma gradually rousing user from the slumber. 

User Flow

Hardware Design

Minimal Design

Based on our research, we hided the smartness and functionality inside the coffee maker and kept the external as simple as possible.

Percolating

The inner structure works similar to moka pot. The rubber on the bottom of the filter basket closes the water vessel. When the water gets heated, the generated steam increases the pressure in the vessel and forces water up through the tube to the filter basket that contains coffee grounds.

Transporting

To make the transporting between kitchen and bedroom easier, we designed a groove on the lid of the kettle, which fits the size of the bottom of the cup. So the cup and the kettle can be stacked together stably and carried by just one hand.

High Tech

The prototype made with Photon is able to communicate with smartphone wirelessly through internet, and sense the happening to the machine or the surrounding with the built-in sensors.

Prototype with Photon
Receive orders from the phone

Set the time with smartphone.

Push notification to the phone

Misplace the cup.

Sense the environment

Go to sleep without preparing the machine.

High Touch

The smart functionality is discreetly encased within warm, natural materials, allowing it to blend into the calmest of bedroom interiors.

Oak
Ceramic

Instead of having obvious buttons or display panel on the machine, we design the subtle light effect at the bottom the machine as a communication channel with users.

Connecting
Reminding
Confirming

Software Design

User Needs for Software

The smart functionalities of Rouse is operated by the smartphone application. To support and control the hardware, the app would serve following functions:

On-boarding

Get clear instruction on how to set up and connect the hardware. 

Use time

Check coffee maker status and get notification if anything goes wrong.

Get information of how to operate it.

Make coffee: set schedule for morning coffee or make coffee right away.

Check past activities, as well as connect with other health apps.

On-boarding

Connecting steps

After an expert interview, we concluded the steps here to bringing the hardware into the user’s network. The on-boarding screen would lead users to go through these processes.

Blueprint & wireframes

On-boarding Prototype

The on-boarding is designed to avoid being long, complicated or too technical. We used short headlines, concise description texts, and supportive graphics/animations to make sure the process is simple and understandable.

App Map

We map out the essential screens for the application and utilize information architecture to structure the application map. The home screen would serve as a dashboard that provides the most important information as well as access to other functions.

Homepage

The homepage display the most important cards that users can grasp the needed information at one glance without clicking. The layout follows the importance and priority of the information.

Routine

Rouse provides two ways to set up morning coffee routines, either by connecting to an external calendar app or by fixed schedules. Users can choose the one that fits their need each weekday.

Activity

The past coffee consumption will be recorded on the activities page as infographics. The data can be connected to other health app.

Settings

The settings screen is accessible from Homepage. Users can view their account info and customize other hardware and software related settings.

Style Guide

Usability Testing

We conducted validation testing of the mobile clickable prototype with 6 users. Below is a summary of the findings:

Find the application easy to use, and clear to navigate.

Understand how to connect hardware to the network.

Find the homepage information useful and easy to read.

Are able to set up the routine by connecting to calendar or by fixed schedules.

Finds the connectivity between application and hardware secure.

Would like to recommend the product to friends.

Lessons learned

Design Research

In this project, Paola and I went through design research process from mind mapping to user journey to interviews to testing. The study helped us set up the directions and informed us of the possible solutions.

Programming & Computing

I made the interactive prototype using C++ (hardware) and javascript (software). It was magical to see the code working in real life. I had a lot of fun learning and consider programming as an important tool in my design skillset.

Modelling & Prototyping

Prototyping is an iterative process. We made paper models to present the idea and the form, 3D printed models to test the mechanism, and a final model using wood and ceramics.

Reaching out the possible users

This project was exhibited during Milan Design Week, which provided us with the possibility of introducing it to a wider audience. We spoke with potential users directly and got usefuk feedback for future improvement.