Gatherwell: Creating Shared Knowledge

Spring 2015, Graduate Studio II / Microsoft Design Challenge project
Team members: Jane Lien and David Scoville
Instructors: Professors Peter Scupelli and Bruce Hanington
Microsoft Liasons: Austin Lee and Annika Ushio
My role: Collaborative work on ideation, field study, workshops, and concept video


For Graduate Studio II, our class (along with seven other schools) participated in the Microsoft 2015 Design Challenge around a theme of Inclusive Design & Technologies. The promt was to "design a product, service or solution for someone with a context-dependent disability."

02. Defining Problem Space

Within the larger circle of disability, the team focused in on communication and language barriers. We saw an opportunity space in addressing language disabilities in healthcare because there are many different kinds of communication occurring between its many stakeholders. And oftentimes, the communication needed is critical.

Within this rich opportunity space, we brainstormed on possible language disabilities within healthcare. We then sorted them into situational, temporary, and permanent contexts. We then placed them on a spectrum based on the complexity of the solutions to the disabilities.

03. Research

In order to find out more about healthcare and communication, we interviewed 26 individuals, including patients, medical care professionals, academic researchers, and designers in the field of healthcare. And to gain insights from patients, we conducted several workshops including role playing and card sorting sessions. We shadowed health care professionals at hospitals and conducted contextual inquiry.

We also did usability testing through Experience Prototyping and held rapid concept testing sessions at two senior living communities and a medical center’s innovation center. In this exercise, we set up a scenario to simulate a deaf person’s conversation with the doctor, while the conversation is transcribed in real time.

04. Key Insights & Interactions

After spending much time observing and interviewing different stakeholders, researchers, and contexts, we consolidated our findings into three key insights and corresponding main interactions in a proposed platform.

GatherWell summarizes every interaction with visualization and tagging, so that rather than having to sift through entire conversations, the patient can quickly extract key information. It enables joint conversation so all stakeholders can participate regardless of location.

It provides live translation and transcription using augmented reality. The service allows deaf patients to deliver and receive medical information clearly without the assistance of human translators. In our concept, we offer both text and ASL translation for deaf patients because our research revealed that members of the deaf community may prefer one or the other as ASL is considered a language separate from English.

GatherWell is a platform, combining multiple technologies to make sure all stakeholders in a patient's healthcare circle are on the same page. And it can scale to a spectrum of users, not just deaf patients.

05. video sketch & presentation at Microsoft Design Expo 2015

Our team was selected to attend the Microsoft Design Expo 2015 and present our work at the Microsotf Headquarters in Redmond, Washington along with students from other participating schools. You can find a recording of our presentation here.

Photo from