• TEAM: Group Project with Ming Xing, Nurie Jeong, Eunjung Paik
  • ROLE: User Research, Field Rsearch, Concept Developing, Hi-Fi UI/UX
  • DURATION: 8 Weeks

“COSMOS is a smart morning optimization system
for young adults who live together in shared housing arrangements.”


The prompt for this project is based around digital sleep solutions in multi-user sleep contexts. As we explored these different definitions of family, we also looked at sociodemographic trends of present-day Millennials. We found that young adults - Millennials - are continuing the trend of delaying forming independent households. Instead of becoming the heads of their own households, many are choosing to live with parents, or live with others in communal households. As a result of our explorations we found that this is the new mainstream of family and decided to target disruptive sleep within co-living spaces.

“Millennials who live with others in communal households”

Target disruptive sleep within co-living spaces for our digital sleep solution


Cosmos consists of five components, all of which are connected to the COSMOS app.

  • The components are the phone-based App -- the front end of the system, by which users set up their environment, wake-up time, leave time and bathroom using time;
  • The COSMOS dock -- used as a phone charger and a beam projector. It can display aesthetic screens and bathroom status on the ceiling;
  • Vibration-based alarm -- minimize the disruption in the morning. Placed under the pillow or sheets, it wakes users up with vibration to minimize the disturbances to others;
  • Connected bathroom lights -- to unobtrusively provide notification to “nudge” user to finish bathroom use when another person is in line. Lights flash when user’s time is almost up;
  • Motion sensors in the bathroom -- installed in the bathroom, it will track the real bathroom use time of each person and send the data to the app.
system outline



The COSMOS app configures the smart home system, and allows users to set up their morning wake-up preferences. As time goes by, it can automatically collect data through people’s morning behavior, such as how long they actually use bathroom, their reactions to alarm-- if they snooze or not. Consequently, it will generate further co-schedule based on these data points and provide appropriate suggestions.


The projector phone dock is both a phone charger and a beam projector. We decided to create a phone dock that is connected to our smart wake-up system after learning from our research that pretty much everyone plugged in their phone at night before sleeping.

The dock also acts as a projection system to provide the user with the most relevant information in the morning, which is the current time, whether s/he has time to snooze, and the current weather information. The projection serves to provide for a multisensory wake-up experience for the user. Since the lense can be turned in a range of 90 degrees, users can choose to see the projection view either on  ceiling or on wall.

As a part of the system it can be motivated by another devices-- cell phone and vibration alarm. At night, it starts to project a beautiful view which helps people to feel at peace and fall asleep as soon as users put their cellphones on it; while in daytime, it stops projecting after people wake up and leave the vibration pad.


The vibration pads are connected to the COSMOS system and detect whether the user is sleeping with pressure sensors. They vibrate to wake the user up in the morning, thus reducing noises that may wake other housemates up. To turn off the alarm, users simply just get off the vibration pad. We wanted to promote users to wake up on time, hence this interaction.


When a user is in the bathroom, the bathroom lights will flash twice in color orange when the user has less than 20% of his remaining time left, and flash twice in red when the person is occupying the bathroom overtime. We wanted to create an unobtrusive way of notifying users that their housemates are in line for the bathroom in order to assuring the next person doesn’t need to wait after waking up.


Motion sensor is a back-end item in our system. The sensor detect whether someone is in the bathroom, and sends this information back to the COSMOS system. This way, housemates can know the status of the bathroom easily while staying in bed. Therefore, ameliorate the anxiety in morning and improve their sleep quality.


To learn more about what aspects of sleep could be improved in a co-living setting, we set out and interviewed 12 participants. As part of this exploratory research, our participants had experiences ranging from sharing a single room with 17 other females to individuals who have their own room and bathroom. We utilized a semi-structured interview format where we asked participants questions regarding their own sleep preferences, their routines before and after sleep, as well as their housemates’ sleep and preferences. We also asked them to describe their worst sleep-related housemate stories.


After interviewing our interviewees about their own sleep preferences, their routines before and after sleep, as well as their housemates’ sleep and preferences and finally, the relationship between them and their roommates. we found 4 main pain points from 12 interviews. These include:

  • Everyone has a different daily routine and schedule;
  • They get disturbed by noise & light, and sometimes smells;
  • Morning routine often conflicts especially when it comes to taking turns using common spaces like bathrooms;
  • Communicating around sleep disturbances is difficult;

Based on our initial explorations, we decided to delve further into how housemates communicate with each other in communal living situations.

Everyone ‘s on a
different clock

Noise/ Smell

Morning Routine



Men are as sensitive as women
Both men and women
experience difficulty communicating grievances

They are not able to feel at home
It is difficult to feel truly at home
when sharing living spaces

Bathroom use time
They use implicit communication
to minimize uncomfortable moments

We conducted targeted research into communication happening in Co-living homes and difference in communication of men and women. We observed and interviewed residents at one apartment shared by 2 girls and the other one shared by 2 boys. Turned out, we found that:

  • Both genders find it anxiety-inducing to bring up communication surrounding conflicts;
  • Regardless of the relationship between roommates, it is difficult for people to feel truly at home when sharing living spaces. They sometimes wanted to have private moments and spaces;
  • And finally, people prefer less direct ways of communicating around problems in order to avoid awkward moments.

So we synthesized our research findings to reframe our problem definition as a single sentence:

“How might we allow individuals to maintain personal lifestyles in shared homes?”


We brainstormed several concepts to answer our design question. We came up with several concepts to address the issue of maintaining personal lifestyles in shared homes while not disrupting the shared experience

  • Combination of ambient alarm and schedule adjustment that help people more aware of each other’s status;
  • Converting disturbing noise to more pleasurable interaction so can minimize disturbance;
  • Informing the level of disturbance through aesthetic display and nudge people to change their behavior in pleasant ways;
  • Using the AR displays to provide users with most relevant information and reduce cognitive load.

Minimize Alarm Noise

Relevant Information at
the Right Time

Ambient Notifications
for Disturbances

Providing Situational
Awareness for Individuals



As a key component in the sleeping experience cycle, which aims at minimizing morning alarm noise disturbances and providing information at the right time. After generating concepts, we invited some young adults and tested our ideas which happen in the scenario of a bedroom. Overall, no matter what kind of sleeping poses they may use, it is intuitive to read the information showing on the ceiling after waking up. Besides, all of them were very into the idea of using a gesture to wipe all the information away.


The two major parts in COSMOS system involving user interaction are data inputting and notification.
After the first time logging in, a user needs to set up his/ her basic sleeping cycle preference, which includes seven steps. To make the process more intuitive and interesting to go through, we designed unique interaction for each step. Besides normal mobile information display, the projection on the ceiling is also an important part in UX flow.


The app is the core element in the smart home system. I created the user interface design for the application and ceiling projection in Photoshop. And then animated it in Aftereffects to text the final interaction.

Besides, we also produced a physical dock through 3D modeling and 3D printing as part of the Hi-fi prototype.


We arrived at our final concept, which is to create a smart home system for the modern communal household.-- a smart wake-up system that wakes members of the household up at optimal times, as well as provide passive notifications during morning routines to minimize uncomfortable communication. It focuses on four main functions -- visualizing bathroom status, waking household up without noise, optimizing wake-up times and flexible wake-up schedules. It mainly focuses on four functions.



Users set up personal preferences on COSMOS app

COSMOS determines when to wake each user up

In the case that members of the household have preferences that overlap and cannot be reconciled within the app, the app would notify the users to change their preferences. Ideally, users would seek out their housemate and negotiate their wake-up routines in an effort to minimize disruptions. Then the users can change their preferences on the app and COSMOS would recalculate the wake-up order.

COSMOS adjusts the wake-up order in the case of

We wanted COSMOS to facilitate, rather than prescribe, behaviors in a communal living environment. This is why COSMOS is a smart system, because it adjusts for changes in our behavior and makes predictions based on our preferences.