Family Health Informatics

Understanding Health Together

Help Families Understand Their Sleep, and Make Improvements Together



Health data tracking has been around for years. Yet most products and services focus on individual data tracking. Research has found ones' health status are heavily impacted by the rest of the family members. Thus, we attempt to bring family members together in managing their health.

As the researcher and designer, I contributed to conducting interviews, usability testings, creating wireframes, visual assets, and frontend development. The project is based on some prior work, as listed in the reference. We expect to deploy by fall 2017.


Interaction Designer

Design Researcher


Literature Review


Usability Testing



Adobe Creative Suite







Laura Pina

Sang-Wha Sien

Diana Oviedo

Yuan Zhuang

First thing first

Why are we making another sleep tracking tool?


Current apps primarily focus on sleep tracking for individuals. However, research has found that people's sleep pattern is heavily affected by their family member. This is especially true between parents and children.


Understanding the Problem Space

From literature review and interviews[2], we learned that...


1. The sleep status of family members are interdependent with each other

2. When the whole family set a goal together, they are more likely to make progress together

3. When sharing health data, privacy concerns arise: children do not necessarily want parents to know when/if they go to bed.

4. "My brain shuts down when it's too much information". It is essential to keep a low cognitive load for the users, especially when it involves children.

Information Flow

After initial ideation and research, I created the following low-fidelity prototypes on the right with Sketch and InVision.

Early Design Exploration

By sketching on paper, I explored different ways to displaying sleep information of the whole family. 

Usability Testing

I conducted user testing early and often during our development. This allowed us to make adjustments quickly.

We conducted semi-structured interviews and usability testing with our paper prototypes. Below is a selection of scenario-based questions that were asked to the participants during the tests (click to enlarge).

Usability Testing at different level of fidelities

Designing for Children

One unique part of this project is that our intended users include children, specifically those aged from 7 to 13. When designing for a younger audience, there are unique needs to be met. To make a complex system more appealing to children, it is important for them to have a sense of connection with the system. From interviews and participatory design, we found out that children prefer cartoonish characters rather than using their own photos to be shown on their profile. 

Examples of some of avatars I created.

When creating avatars, I put thought into making it inclusive. In particular, I looked into the current states in avatars, examples of avatar redesign, and the usage of virtual identity representation overall[3, 4]. Initially, we thought about creating two sets of icons for parents and children respectively, but I suggested that using the same set actually create a better sense of togetherness for the whole family, which helps our design goal. 

Depicting Emotions

From our user research, we learned that in addition to numbers of sleep hours, users also want to record their subjective feelings when they wake up.

After doing research[5] on emotions and their graphic representation, I created the graphics above to let users express their feelings. This was particularly helpful for children who might not have the exact vocabulary to describe their feelings.

I created the following graphics for users to choose their emotions. This allows families to track their subjective feelings in addition to results measured by their wearables.


So far, all families are heterosexual parents, although this was not a criterion for participating in our test. Future work should explore additional types of family arrangements[2]. Participants are self-selected into our test, which also created biases in the test.

More to come soon

This is an ongoing project. I'll update when new progress is made. Last updated June, 2017.


  1. Daniel A. Epstein, An Ping, James Fogarty, and Sean A. Munson. 2015. A lived informatics model of personal informatics. In Proceedings of the 2015 ACM International

  2. Join Conference on Pervasive and Ubiquitous Computing (UbiComp '15), 731-742.

  3. Laura R. Pina, Sang-Wha Sien, Teresa Ward. Jason C. Yip. Sean A Munson,  James Fogarty, and Julie A Kientz. 2017. From Personal Informatics to Family Informatics: Understanding Family Practices around Health Monitoring. In Proceedings of the 2017 ACM Conference on Computer Supported Cooperative Work and Social Computing (CSCW '17), 2300-2315.

  4. Michelle Venetucci Harvey. 2017. Design avatars that make sense — and be more inclusive in the process. May 1, 2017.

  5. Caitlin Winner. 2017. How We Changed the Facebook Friends Icon. Facebook Design. July 7, 2015.