America's Greatest Makers on TBS

Curious Technologies is a Chicago-based start up that entered the competition "America's Greatest Makers" that was a Shark Tank spinoff, which aired on TBS in Spring 2016.

Our team of 3 UX designers were tasked with doing the research and initial iOS application design to support the concussion detecting device our clients had invented for the competition.


A prototype was developed to present to our clients. It was also used to handoff to the visual design team, along with our annotated wireframe. We worked alongside the visual design team and visual design lead throughout the concepting and wireframing process.


Given the task of designing for something so scientifically based — something I had background in, but my teammates did not — our process was heavily rooted in conducting a lot of research to understand who our user was and how to best concept an application to help them.


In order to create a mobile application for a wearable technology that detected concussions in youth sports, we needed a plan to understand those three very unique domains.

We also needed to understand who would be the ideal user and what their process for concussion detection is like so that we could identify an opportunity to assist that process.


  • Identify the user and existing process for concussion detection
  • Understand technologies available with wearables
  • Understand the science of concussions and concussion detection


  • User interviews
  • Influencer interviews
  • Domain research
  • Competitive analysis


We identified likely users as football coaches or athletic trainers. We identified parents as influencers. We also spoke with athletic directors and school administrators as subject matter experts and influencers.

We recruited 15 interviewees and spoke with them by phone, with respect to their busy lives, over the course of a week.


We explored three different domains and identified statistics, data, and research for each of these domains. The three different domains were: wearable technology, concussion science, and concussion education and culture in youth sports.

Organizing my wearable domain insights for the whole team to see and understand.

Competitive Analysis

Our working chart of competitors as they were identified.

Having an understanding our client’s opportunity and business goals for entering the market, we looked at a multitude of different solutions with regards to concussion detection.

As we identified competitors, we looked at a handful of different factors to distinguish what made each product unique. From here we created a SWOT analysis of competitors in the market.

An initial SWOT analysis of our competitors. We didn't discover Triax, another competitor, until after we began sketching.

Understanding the User

We had insights from each of these research methods. Each insight was written on a post-it and stuck to a wall. From there we organized the insights into different categories. This allowed us to understand trends in the data and identify a problem for the user.

Creating an affinity diagram helped us gain insights about concussions in high school football.

From our research we discovered

  • Concussion assessment in high school sports often relies on an athlete’s self-reporting, making it a challenge to identify, diagnose, and monitor concussions.
  • Head injuries affect each athlete in a different way and there is no universal threshold grade.
  • Athletic trainers and coaches evaluate symptoms of a potential concussion with a primary focus on how the athlete feels and functions post-impact.


Using these insights, we identified and defined a problem for us to solve.

With such a strong dependence on subjective data, we believe first responders can also benefit from concrete data. This objective data can offer a better understanding of where and how the head was affected from a sustained impact and supplement trainers’ sideline assessment, ultimately increasing the safety of players and improving return to play decisions.

User Personas

We identified 3 unique types of users from our research insights. There are athletic trainers who are full time and some who work part-time for a school. There are also football coaches who don't have access to an athletic trainer at all.

Understanding the personas' needs and motivations helped us create scenarios for us to consider in our solution. So we constructed context scenarios for each user to help us imagine how users would need to use our solution.


As a result of the understanding and define parts of our process, we were able to empathize with our user and their needs. This enabled us to start concepting a solution for them.

As a result of our research, we understood what features and functionalities we would need to include for our users. We also worked with our client, the iOS developer, and the concussion detection designers to identify possibilities and limitations for our concepts.

Key functionalities to consider

  • Impact detection/alert
  • Shareability
  • Impact history
  • SCAT assessment
  • Linear and rotational force visualization
  • Tackling technique
  • Performance measurement

Rapid Sketching

When sketching my focus was on the functionalities we outlined as a team. I also thought about what I knew about our user and their existing process.

I looked at different ways to display critical information on a daily basis as well as in-game. It was also important to enable the user to track impacts not just when they occur but also over time.

Using post-its (left) helped me create a macro-view of the flows to identify all necessary steps to complete tasks. Early concept sketching (right) allowed me to explore and develop a concept.

Critique and brainstorming

We presented our sketches to each other for feedback, so we could develop our initial concepts further before testing for validation.

This part of the process provided important feedback before we elicited additional feedback from others. It challenged us to address potential issues and develop different aspects of the idea further.

Concept Validation

Due to financial constraints and time limitations of our team and also our users, we utilized our UX/UI peers at DESIGNATION to look at our designs. We were able to get feedback concerning usability and quick understanding of the interface.

Low Fidelity Prototype

The 3 proposed solutions all shared similarities thanks to the design principles and key functionalities. They were prototyped using InVision and presented to the client for feedback.

A screen from each of the 3 concepts

Proposed Solution

The App


A finalized solution was identified and sketched preliminarily on a whiteboard. Each member of the team was responsible for creating a set number of mid-fidelity wireframes using Sketch.

We used whiteboards to design screens for the app.

We collaborated to sketch our screens before creating them in Sketch.

I consolidated all of the files into one that included all required screens and error states and wrote annotations. A PDF file including all of the annotated wireframes is available for viewing.

Screens from the wireframe showing unique features of the application.

User task flows

We constructed user task flows to provide context for using the app. We also used this exercise to identify potential error states with considerations to bluetooth connectivity and the detection device’s battery life.

Some of the whiteboards that included our breakdown of user task flows.


From the Sketch wireframes, one of my UX team members created a prototype using Time was an issue and he had the most experience with so we trusted him to produce a good prototype with the amount of time we had.

Although I did not spend the majority time in myself, I was involved in the interaction design of the app. I would often test the prototype as it was being created and discover opportunities for microinteractions. If given the time, I would create them in, or have my partner implement the interaction himself.

It is viewable below on larger devices. For mobile devices, a link is included to view it in another browser window.


Our team was able to test the prototype and elicit the feedback of 4 athletic trainers. The feedback provided allowed us to bring them to the client for future considerations and recommendations.


The app was well-received and athletic trainers were very interested in this technology and mobile solution.

Additional research on athletic trainers day-to-day lives could allow for a more inclusive and comprehensive user experience with the application.

Further research should be done to explore opportunities to legally share players’ health data with their parents and private health care professionals.

How did it go?

The Curious Technologies makers presented the NWTN device over the series of several months to the judges at America's Greatest Makers. Finishing in the top 5, the team was awarded additional money to continue to developing the NWTN. They were also seen providing a live demo of the NWTN puck and iOS app on Conan.

With that prize money, iterations were made on the device to further improve objective data collection to help support medical diagnosis with design sprints in Fall 2016.

However, as of January 2018, the project has been abandoned, with no further development planned.


Working on developing a mobile application that will be available in the iOS App Store was a valuable experience for me. Our team was able to meet regularly and get consistent feedback from the iOS developer and product engineers.

The feedback from these meetings allowed for us to quickly adjust to any problems or concerns they had. I became very comfortable with switching directions and iterating quickly when necessary because I was still able to rely on my process to accomplish our goal.