Elepho


In most U.S. families, both parents work outside of the home. Daycare is usually their first option.

Elepho is a new system that improves the communication efficiency between childcare providers and parents. Keeps parents well-informed, while simultaneously reducing daycare teachers’ workloads.

Individual Project

Keywords:
- research planning
- primary research, secondary research
- user interview
- co-design
- system design
- product design
- UI design
- sketching
- 3D modeling and rendering
- 3D printing
- lo-fi & hi-fi prototyping
- video production

Final Solution





Timeline




Problem Scope


1. Summary

Work-life balance problem is one of the common concerns of working parents. For a newborn baby, he/she grows so fast so the parents can expect something different on him/her every day! As parents, on one hand, those little changes make them feel happy and excited. On the other hand, they need to learn how to cope with these changes properly.

2. Statistics


According to factfinder.census.gov, 97% of families have at least one working parent



- Data was retrieved from https://factfinder.census.gov, 2016.

Male and female’s roles in terms of childcare tasks have started to converge. More and more fathers made the statement that parenting is extremely important to their father’s identity. Work-life balance problem became a challenge for both genders. Parents experience an emotional roller coaster due to the stress of balancing home and work, and hardly get outside helps.

  • 2/3 of mothers feel helpless about childcare problems.
  • More than 50% of parents fear they’ll miss everyday moments
  • 25% working mothers cry at least once a week
  • 1/3 parents argue or fight with their families at least once a week about childcare problems
- Summarized from blog posts, forum discussions and informal survey results on the internet



Primary Research


1. Interview


I interviewed with 5 working parents (4 females and 1 male) and 3 daycare teachers through in-person semi-structured interview sessions.

Findings:
For parents, they enjoy being working adults and parents at the same time. Those two identities give them fulfillingness in different ways. On the emotional level, parents miss their children when the kids at daycare. They need something to build a connection between them. 

For teachers, they mostly struggled with the unorganized tasks that need to accomplish on daily basis. Taking care of younger children requires consistent attention. The current system is hard to keep records and communicate with parents.


“ There is a strong attachment between mother and child and separation causes pain. I felt missing out my baby’s life and important moments. I wish to get more information about my kid’s growth achievements.”
- Interviewee #2


“ love to be a working mom, and I’m proud of doing so. I love my kids and also like my work. I believe I can do better.”
-  Interviewee #3


“I love my kids but just need more adult interactions. Being home with kids is fullfiling in it’s own way, but not the same way as work. Plus, work is a good adult escape where the problems are different but at least you can eat your lunch with two hands. Babies don’t often permit that. ”
- Interviewee #3


2. Survey


In order to get a comprehensive understanding of demographic and context of the problem, I send out a survey via a Facebook group, daycare email lists, and online forums. I got 46 responses in total. After I analyzed the result, users’ needs became much clearer.




Insight #1
Most people have trouble to accommodate their busy schedules and feel the lack of time with children and families. 


58.7% of the responders work 20-40h per week, 39.13% work more that 40h.




“feeling guilt about being at work and focusing on things that don't seem as important when something else is going on with your kid. Stress around all of the things that need to be done.”



Insight #2
38 out of the 46 participants have experienced with daycare or pre-school facilities. Although people’s experiences with childcare facilities are positive, parents’ expectations and complaints are very different and vary along with the children’s growth. 


How old is(was) your first kid when you go(went) back to work?



“Toddler program. My child got sick a lot. But he also got a lot out of it. I wish teacher's were more sanitary there.”

“I wish I could have picked up a hot meal already prepared to take home at the same time I picked up my kids:-).”

“For the most part it's great, my only complaint is sometimes his regular sitters have the day off and he's with people we don't know, and we aren't notified or given a chance to meet them. And it's hard to know what to expect since you don't see what's going on each day.

“Based on what my child is going through, what I most want to know changes. ... for example, if they didn't nap, they will need to go to bed early. for babies - when did they have their last bottle, so I know when to feed next? if they didn't eat much they will need to have dinner early. etc.”



Insight #3
When they feel stressed, most they tend to seek emotional support from their families, close friends and working mom/dad communities, while a few of the responders prefer professional resources such as psychiatrists. 


“ All of what you mentioned. There are a million different ways to do things or that you have to consider. Every child is different, so getting tips or knowledge from multiple sources is really helpful because it allows you to try several options or tailor something so that it is best for you or your child. “

*View the detailed survey report here
 

3. Make-Tool Session



Participant #1
Mary & Ethan
Full-time working mother
Using full-time daycare
Mary works full-time and rarely has flexible schedules, so her husband James is the lead parent in terms of childcare. He does more daycare dropping off and picking up.



Participant #2
Ivy & Luna
Full-time working mother
Using part-time daycare and living nanny
Ivy went back to work when Luna was five months. Her husband Jason has a tight schedule as well, so they decided to hire a living nanny to take care of their baby. On the other hand, they hope Luna to have a systematic learning experience as well as gain social skills when getting along with other children, so they send Luna to daycare 3 days a week.



Participant #3
Gretchen, Perry & Ryder
Part-time working mother
Using part-time daycare, pre-school & babysitters
Gretchen is a part-time working mother. Her husband Danny is a graduate student who has plenty of school work need to do. She is the one who does more childcare job since she has more flexible time. In general, she feels scheduling is the biggest concern for her.




Persona


1. Parents


CHRISTINE 34

Christine is a single mom. She works as a software engineer at a tech company. Her son goes to the morning daycare and she stays with him at home in the afternoon and night while she works remotely.

She feels knowing the detailed information about the baby’s performance is important for giving streamlined care after back home.
LISA 28


Lisa works full-time as a recruiter at a commercial industry. She is always on her phone and needs to attend tons of meetings everyday. She went back to work when her daughter was 5 months. She was able to work from home 2 days a week, but that was too distracted for her to get the work done at home.

Finally, she started to use a daycare center for her baby. She still misses her baby at every moment and always wants to know if she is doing well.
MICHALE 38


Michale is a working dad who has one boy. His wife and he both work full-time and have similar work schedules, so the daycare is the best option for them.

In addition, they believe daycare could provide more systematic education for their kid. They both want to be involved in their child’ life and care a lot about their child’s growth. As first-time parents, they wish to know what should be expected in the near feature.



2. Teachers


KELLY 31


Kelly is a daycare teacher of the infants’ room. She needs to take care of 4 infants. In general, infants need to eat every 2-3 hours; need to change diapers every 2-3 hours; have 1-3 discontinuous naps during the daytime.

She is also supposed to write down detailed information about each task such as the time and the amount of the served food. Kelly understands the daily report is important for both herself and parents to keep records of children’s growths, but the heavy writing task makes her work very inefficient.
MICHELLE 25


Michelle is a teacher of a mixed-age class. She has a co-teacher to work together. They have 10 children aged from 7 weeks to 36 months. When it comes to daily reports, their strategy is when one is taking care of children, the other one quickly writes up activities and time.

Additionally, for the parents whose children are older, they hope to see more photos of outdoor activities. In that case, Michelle needs to use daycare’s public camera taking photos and send them to parents by emails at the end of the day.




Problem Statement


1. Current Issues

  • Information is not immediately updated on the parents’ side.
  • Parents are experiencing separation anxiety
  • Teachers spend too much time filling out the report rather than paying attention to children.
  • Paper reports are hard to keep on file and are easily misplaced.


Children’s
performance chart

Daily report



2. Problem Statement

In most U.S. families, both parents work outside of the home. Daycare is usually their first option. Daycare workers are not allowed to use their own phones during work hours and thus resort to using paper reports and emails as the main communication method with parents.

3. Desired Outcome

Design a new system that improves the communication efficiency between childcare providers and parents. Keeps parents well-informed, while simultaneously reducing daycare teachers’ workloads.




Competitive Analysis


1. Childcare Software Products




2. Child Monitor & Communication Tools






Information & Communication


Parents have strong emotional connections with their kids. The special bond between parents and children makes them miss their children very hard.

Researching all different software and products on the market, lots of them can provide info and feedback in details to parents but few could think about how the information would be sent and received. I can see the blank space there where a product/system can provide a streamlined communication channel between parents and daycare teachers.

In this case, I took different types of communication media and information priority into consideration.






When the parents cannot take care of their children in person, they expect to receive proper feedbacks from other care-providers to make sure their kids are safe and happy. Different communication channels can carry different amount and types of information. 


  • Complexity of info
  • Media richness
  • Degree of distraction
  • Degree of urgency
  • Recordability 
  • Efficiency of response


  • Design Opportunities & Ideation



    Looking for design opportunities around parents’ bags, kids’ daily supplies, and daycare equipment to build the connection between parents and children through technologies which can provide proper feedback when they are not taking care of their children in person

    .


    Design Principles:

    High-Tech
    Embed cutting-edge technologies to create streamlined information flows.

    Comforting
    Release the stress caused by separation for both children and parents.

    Interactive
    Build effective conversation among parents, childcare providers, and children.

    Involved
    Simplify communication methods. Involve parents together to do a better childcare job.

    Reliable
    Keep personal information safe and limit the conversations in a closed loop between daycare facilities and parents.
    I brainstormed different concepts based on the three steps:

    • Info Sending (childcare providers)
    • Info Communicating (APP)
    • Info Receiving (parents)




    System Diagram




    Visual System



    1. Moodboard 



    2. Colors


    I hoped to create safe, energetic and lively feelings. Most of my inspiration pictures have pastel tones of mild color themes.

    Primary Colors


    Secondary Color



    3. Logo Design



    Concept & Prototype


    1. Hand Device






    2. Childcare Robot

    3. Wirefrme




    SYSTEM OVERVIEW



    1. APP Screens

    2. The Hand Device


    This device was specifically designed for daycare teachers. It is small, lightweight and easily be carried with.

    The built-in front and back cameras that incorporate with Facial Recognition and Object Recognition technologies can help to smartly capture information about each activity of each child by pairing with different Hotspots located in daycare centers.

    Primary functions include photo capturing and task confirming. No extra writing is needed from the teachers’ side and the accuracy of tasks’ record is guaranteed.



    3. The Robot


    The eleBOT is an Artificial Intelligence Robot who is able to communicate efficiently with children and teachers by analyzing the words and tones in conversations and people’s facial expression and then give natural reactions. 

    He is also responsible for collecting and selecting useful data and send them to the central hub. That information will be used for generating children’s daily reports that the parents can save as references. 


    Daily Tasks Include:
    • Captures photos and videos during activities
    • Displays customized educational materials and teaches lower-level classes
    • Video calls if parents were requesting
    • Immediately syncs data with the central hub



    4. System Performance




    5. Pysical Prototypes







    Mark

    Sophia Li. 2019