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Spheo – An Interactive Health Monitoring System

How might we create a better consciousness of people's current health state?

Status Quo

Even in 2015 doctors and medical helpers are not comprehensively spread over the country. Especially external villages do not have doctors in town, consequently they have to take long ways to get medical help. But what if we could get detailed feedback of our health without seeing the doctor regularly? What if we could get a sharpened consciousness of our health for the benefit of a healthier way of life?

Spheo deals centrally with the topic “health in 2020”. The designed system is modular and integrated after extensive researches in a bathroom mirror. The focus of the system is on the awareness of a conscious management of everybody’s own health. Spheo offers the possibility to reflect one's own constitution critically and provides useful tips to gain a healthier lifestyle.

What does our health monitoring system look like?

Data Graph

Centerpiece of the entire application is aimed to be the health data graph, called “Emotion Panel”. The user should see at a glance his current health status with the help of the Emotion Panel.

02.01 This visualization shows the different sources of the tracked data, on which Spheo relies on.

The collected data from different sources of the smart home area through to self-survey devices like the Apple Watch or Nike Fuel is split into three categories: activity, nutrition and vital signs. By non-critical measured data the graph represents a full circle. If individual values ​​deviate from the optimum, fluctuations are illustrated within the graph.

02.02 A detailed look at the Emotion Panel, which is divided in the three main categories and visualizes the data values.

An important aspect on creating the data graph as a system global sign was clarity and readability. Different light situations in the context of a bathroom played an important role for the user interface design, as readability have to be ensured any time.

Interaction Principles

When the user approaches the bath mirror, the system's integrated face detection automatically shows the related emotion panel. The primary interaction and main system navigation is based on swipes initiated by the user. When the user gets interrupted by another person, the whole system shuts down to a blurry safety mode to preserve privacy.

With the aid of a touch sensitive potentiometer around the mirror the user can navigate through the health categories to get in depth information and tips to improve critical measured values. The final system is a two-component system: The mirror is the central data-processing module. A mobile application allows the user to access health data along the way.

Little Big Details

A special focus was set on mircointeractions and detailed motion design. To guarantee a good user experience and to accelerate a simple use of Spheo, interactions were carefully crafted such as animated icons and UI elements were added.

02.06 In order to make the interactions feel natural we worked on a strong visual feedback.

How we achieved it and what did I learn from it?


As the main task was to develop a futuristic concept based on current technologies and hype cycle trends, we first explored technical possibilities of the quantifying self. With the help of user interviews, semantic differentials and rapid prototyping we were able to narrow down the topic and setup a scenario in the smart home of the future. During the research we also discovered dangers as side effects caused by the “quantifying self” trend, which you can find bundled here: #The technological paternalism or the dark side of the quantifying self.

Main Challenges

After a huge ideation phase with an increasing ambiguity the first challenge was to narrow down our learnings and translate them in a usable concept. We invested many hours exploring and validating several diagrams to clearly communicate the quality of the collected data in a simple and understandable way.

03.01 During our concept phase we explored different visualization methods to proper display the data values.

To get a feeling of our system and to optimize the operations and interactions, pretty much effort was put in the prototyping phase. Finally a full functional prototype was created. For the communication between Arduino and Javascript, web sockets in combination with breakout.js were used. As there were no gesture recognition for a potentiometer all interaction patterns were self-written.

My Role

During the project I was mainly responsible for setting up the interaction concept and focused on prototyping the entire system for experiencing the several interactions in a real time scenario. I also worked on the visual design, as well as the overall information architecture of Spheo.


Project Type

Student project at HfG Schwäbisch Gmünd during the course “Invention Design I” by Prof. Jörg Beck within the third semester 2015. Together with @Anna Foltinek.

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