A three part system that consisting of a face-tracking voice assistant that displays emotions on its screen, and sensors that can gather and record plant health information

  • Gold in Interactive Design 2020, Non Pro

  • Gold in UX, Interface & Navigation 2020, Non Pro

  • Silver in Digital Tools and Utilities 2020, Non Pro

  • Silver in Apps 2020, Non Pro

Time Frame

10 weeks

Fall 2019


Prototyping Electronics

for Designers 

Dr. Sung Park

My Role

UX Research

Visual Design

Product Design

Understanding the Problem


Prototype an interactive product utilizing Arduino, surrounding the theme of Social Robot.

Our Goal

A integrated smart home system that enables the house’s defensible to be visually mapped and simulated on to create a home that is ready (at least in theory) for shelter-in-place in case of a wildfire.

bud- Vision Video

bud Vision Film by: Sheryl Chan (Editor and Motion Graphics), Aparna Somvanshi (Product Renders and Script), Varun Khatri (Voiceover and Actor), Ren Fairly (Voiceover) and Madeline Walz.


Key Findings: Secondary Research


The relationship between Plants and Humans

I've tried to make them more like pets and less like plants. They have names. I’ve stuck some googly eyes on their pots. I like having something to take care of. 

~Natasha Sligh, 25

It's really nice having another living thing in my apartment. I don't have any pets, and I live here by myself, so it's nice to water them, and talk to them, and see how they're doing.

~Maxine Mitchell, 30

I know that I have these little things that depend on me for life, and that helps inspire me to take care of myself as well. So when I wake up, the first thing I do is check my plants and make sure their temperature, soil, and sunlight are okay for the day. 

~Jordan Woodman, 23

Benefits of keeping a plant

Key findings 

then we must be better adapted for fire prone living.

Competitor Analysis

A three part system that consisting of a face-tracking voice assistant that displays emotions on its screen, and sensors that can gather and record plant health information

The Research Overview


People from various demographics.

Used to gather some preliminary information on demographics to target and the people’s experiences with plants.


User Interviews

People from a more focused demographic 

Used to breakdown people’s experiences with plants and to analyze human behavior with plants. 


The Package: Cultural Probes


Houseplant Journal

Plant Information Sheet

Nametag attached within the journal


Lollipops as a treat

Manilla envelope

The activites and the follow up interviews


Defining the problem and affinitizing our data points

We gathered insights from all of the research and collected around 214 data points. We then categorized these insights into 13 groups and drew design directions from each of the patterns.

Target Audience

+ Aged 18-30, any gender
+ Urban and Suburban Residence Areas
+ Beginner planting skill level
+ High interest in plants

Personas and Journey Maps

How Might We

aid people who have had little or no success grow thriving houseplants?

How Might We

help beginners understand each plant's individual needs?

How Might We

foster a stronger relationship between an individual and his/her plants?


Based on the understanding, we started conceptualizing

Initially, we came up two different concepts from our idea pool.

Concept 1: A stationary voice assistant module with a screen to emulate emotion that connects to separate sensors that can detect plant health.


Concept 2: A planter lamp combination that moves along its hinges and can voice interface base don the sensors it has to detect plant information.

We chose to focus on the first concept but with additional features from the second concept

Introducing bud

A rotating voice assistant module with a screen to emulate emotion that connects to separate sensors that can detect plant health.

Lo-fi Prototype


+    Made from pink foam,

+    Pan and tilt movement,

+    Swappable face,

+    bud voices by Sheryl Chan and Aparna.

Sensor "seeds": 

+    Made from cardboard,

+    Programmed Arduino to change LED colors on a bottom click.

User Testing and Evaluations

In order to truly make our system more usable, empathetic and easy to understand, we conducted evaluation using the Quasi Empirical Method. In order to gain a further quantitative understanding we conducted a System Usability Scale Questionnaire.

We conducted these evaluations over 3 locations:

SUS Questionnaire response


For all, the system was not unnecessarily complex. 

For one, the various functions were not well integrated. 

For one, learning how to use the system was not as easy as it could have been. 

For one, enough information wasn’t provided before using the system. 

bud: Voice AI


A three part system that consisting of a face-tracking voice assistant that displays emotions on its screen, and sensors that can gather and record plant health information.

Time Frame

10 weeks

Fall 2019

My Role

UX Research

Visual Design

Product Design

UI Design



Rhinoceros, Keyshot

After Effects




Vision Video

Digital Prototype (App)

Digital Prototype (Product)

The Product


The App Integration


Processbook 🔗    /    Application Prototype 🔗  /   Poster 🔗

fireShield  /  brighter  /  bud  /  Project Turf
Copyright © Aparna Somvanshi 2020