COSMOS: Co-Smart Morning Optimization System

A connected wake-up smarthome solution that ensures the best quality sleep in shared homes.


  • Team: Collaborative student project with Leah Jiang, Eunjung Paik, and Nurie Jeong
  • Context: Interaction Design Studio (Fall 2016), Instructor Austin Lee
  • Software Used: Adobe Illustrator, Adobe Photoshop, Adobe AfterEffects, Adobe Premiere
  • Credits: Leah Jiang for visual design of UI and animation effects, Eunjung Paik for 3D prototype

My Role

  • Project Management: I maintained a comprehensive project plan to keep the team on track for deadlines, as well as created meeting agendas and priorities prior to group sessions. I also maintained comprehensive documentation of all meeting notes and defined the framework of the group shared Drive.
  • Design Research: I guided the development of research questions during the exploratory phase, and also interviewed several participants as well as helped to synthesize findings. I also helped to generate design implications and directions.
  • Concept Development: I sketched and made low-fidelity experience prototypes with the team. I also helped devise quick prototyping techniques like bodystorming exercises.
  • Presentations: I created the structure and outline of our presentations for our reviews with Philips.
  • Photography: I took high-fidelity photographs for our final design mockups.
  • Videography & Editing: I filmed the video segments, and completed the editing of the final concept video with the help of Leah.

Design Brief

Working in teams and sponsored by Philips Design, we were tasked to create a digital family sleep solution. We were encouraged to consider utilizing multimodal design interactions, supporting the needs of multiple stakeholders within a shared environment. Our team ultimately decided to design for shared homes, a.k.a. housemate situations, given their increasing prevalence amongst young adults delaying core family formation.

COSMOS: Sleeping Better, Together

COSMOS, Co-Smart Morning Optimization System, is a smarthome solution that reduces routine conflicts in shared homes. The goal of the COSMOS design is to enable for better multi-user sleep experiences while maintaining each individual’s lifestyles within the modern communal home. COSMOS is comprised of a smarthome phone dock, a mobile application, and embedded sensors. COSMOS explores novel interactions in designing for interpersonal negotiations within the realm of the home, and envisions a new way of cohabiting within collaborative settings.

The core functionality of COSMOS is optimizing the wake-up order of its users such that there are fewer conflicts surrounding bathroom use in the morning. After setting their wake-up preferences using the COSMOS mobile application, each member of the household will be woken up with haptic pillow vibrations in an order calculated according to the preferences of the household members. By preventing morning routines from happening by staggering the wake-up and bathroom use order of the household members, COSMOS enables shared homes to live in harmony.

Design Process: Developing COSMOS

Our enquiry into the space of 'family sleep' began as an exploration into the structural make-up of the modern family. After defining our target familial population, we interviewed 13 individuals, went on home tours, generated numerous concepts from the mundane to the wild, prototyped and tested our interactions, and finally arrived at our smarthome solution after multiple iterations. Our goal throughout the process was to create a digital sleep solution that is 1) not disruptive to sleep, and 2) easy to interact with for individuals with differing technological abilities.

We utilized three successive stages of exploratory research to explore the problem area of "family sleep" and to scope our design territory to be manageable within the 6-week turnaround time.

Exploratory Research


Method 1: Secondary Research

Research questions: What is family? Are they simply people who are related to you? People you hold emotional bonds with? People you cook meals with? People you share a roof with? What is considered good sleep?

Our first task was to define what 'family' is. Given today's socioeconomic trends and the flexibility by which we can now form new family structures, we first did some secondary research to understand these trends. Additionally, we also immersed ourselves in research surrounding sleep quality, disturbances, and good sleep practices.

What we learned: Our explorations led us to learn that present-day Millennials, the demographic group who are at the traditional age of family formation, are delaying the formation of independent households and are opting instead to live with parents or to live within communal households with non-family. From these explorations, we decided that we would focus on co-living households where cohabiting, non-related individuals are our primary stakeholders given the vast opportunity space to intervene.

Method 2: Stakeholder Interviews

Research questions: Why do individuals who are not related share a home together? How do they manage conflicts? What are some roommate horror stories, and how did they arise? What do they regard as 'good sleep'?

After defining our target population, we set out to interview as many stakeholders as possible. We first devised a comprehensive research protocol containing our assumptions when going in to the interview, and our research goals. We recruited interviewees from our colleagues in the graduate studio, as well as from young professionals living in metropolitan areas and individuals who have lived in multicultural housemate situations. We conducted semi-structured exploratory interviews with these participants to learn about extreme co-living situations as well as conflict management with these users.


Method 3: Environment Tours

Research questions: How does the physical layout of a home impact the co-living experience?

We toured the homes of two stakeholders, and had them walk us through their shared and personal living spaces. We then interviewed them in more depth about their co-living situations to uncover how physical layouts of homes can impact housemate relations.

Synthesis & Summary

After synthesizing the exploratory research results, we mapped our stakeholders, the dynamics surrounding sleep in the shared house and related positive, neutral and negative emotions related to the dynamics to understand the scope of our problem better. From our territory map we found that our pain points are strongly tied with interactions happened before and after sleep between stakeholders.

In addition to our learnings about how sleep quality is affected by individual differences in behavior, we also learned that poor housemate relations as a result of sleep disturbances affect individual quality of life as well.

From our exploratory research and synthesis, we narrowed our design focus to revolve around empowering individuals living within co-living environments through more effective routine communication. The types of communication we hoped to target were communication for situational awareness, for behavior change, and for emotive conversations.

Design Directions


Concept Development


How might we empower individuals living within co-living environments to maintain personal lifestyle choices despite living in a shared space?

With our research findings and after several brainstorming and conceptualization sessions, we came up with several themes to guide our concept development. We brainstormed around our group sleep-solution to act as a tool for behavior change, situational awareness, and communication of grievances. We realized, after several rounds of concept iterations, that these themes are all related to the idea of gaining or losing individual control over personal preferences and lifestyles.

Creating predictable mornings through machine-aided organizing of morning routines...

Our final solution was to explore ways to make mornings more predictable to ensure for better sleep quality in multi-person sleep settings. We chose to design around morning routines, namely bathroom usage and wake-up times, because the bathroom is the most contested space in the mornings and is almost always the first room our users visit after waking up.

Some early design concepts included ambient alarm systems to reduce noise in the mornings, conversions of disturbing noises to pleasant stimuli, graphical representations of user disturbances through AR technology, and graphical user displays within the home to provide situational awareness amongst the household.

Design Considerations

Human communication. The role that our system plays in the shared home should not replace human communication; rather, its role is to enable better communication within the shared home environment.

Data use and collection. The product system we design should include some aspect of data analysis and use, per recommendations from Philips.

Visibility of relevant information. The technology should be present when the user needs it, and be easily accessible during these moments.

Reducing cognitive load. The technology should not add to the user’s cognitive load, but rather unburden it by reducing costs of interaction and information recall.

Allowing for flexibility. We believe technology should not prescribe human behavior, but rather act as a tool that facilitates or enhances our behaviors and experiences. We therefore designed with this principle in mind, with the assumption that users would want flexibility in their interactions.

Unobtrusive design. Our design should blend into the ecosystem of the home, rather than stand out as a cumbersome addition to it.

Refinement &
Fine Tuning


Prototyping for Gestural Interactions

Haptic feedback alarm clock interactions. Because our concept for COSMOS incorporates gestural interactions and sets of behaviors not commonly invoked, we prototyped our proposed interactions with scenarios and bodystorming exercises. We learned from these exercises that most users, when woken up by a haptic feedback alarm under their pillows, would 'get off' the alarm in order to turn it off as opposed to reach for an external 'off' control to turn off the notification.

Creating a Logical Set of System Rules

Prior to finalizing our designs, we created a comprehensive set of system rules to act as a framework that teaches the system how to stagger wake-up times such that conflicts do not arise. To create this set of rules, we created several scenarios and potentially problematic scenarios as case studies, and set up frameworks to deal with these scenarios in the event that they occur.

Some scenarios we considered had to do with conflicting wake-up and departure times (for example, if two housemates have the same preferences), and one-off occurrences like snoozing. Based on our development of these frameworks, we were able to refine the system UI to better serve our goal of creating less conflictual mornings.

COSMOS: A Co-Living Solution

COSMOS makes morning routines more predictable, minimizing conflicts between housemates in multi-person homes.

COSMOS is a proposed smarthome solution that is comprised of five components. The core functionality of COSMOS is optimizing the wake-up order of its users such that there are fewer conflicts surrounding bathroom use in the morning.

The mobile application acts as the command center of the COSMOS system, and allows users to configure their wake-up and bathroom use preferences. Once all users of the household have set up their preferences, the COSMOS system creates a wake-up schedule that maximizes everyone's sleep quantity while minimizing the chances of coming into routine conflict in the morning.

The projector phone dock is both a phone charger and a beam projector, and enables for a multi-sensory wake-up experience by providing the user with the most relevant information in the mornings such as the current time and the availability of the bathroom.

Phone Projection Dock

Acts as the ‘front-end’ of the system. Users can set their morning routine preferences on the app, can set up the other components of the system, and can view the status of the bathroom in the mornings.

Mobile App

Smarthome sensors include vibration pads placed underneath housemates' pillows, color-changing connected bathroom lights, and motion sensors in the bathroom.

Smarthome Sensors


Waking Up with COSMOS

The COSMOS system calculates the wake-up order of the household based on user preferences set through the COSMOS app. Based on the preferences set by each user, the COSMOS system determines whom to wake up first, second, third etc. according to the following framework. The goal of the COSMOS wake-up system is to reduce the possibility of bathroom use conflict in the morning, which increases the amount of predictability multi-housemate users have in their mornings and reduces the amount of anxiety experienced at night.

User routine preferences are determined via the app

All users of the COSMOS ecosystem set up morning routine preferences in order for the system to calculate the ideal time to wake each person up. Users set up the earliest time they’re willing to wake up, as well as the latest time they’re required to get up. This is defined as their wake-up range (grey). They also set up the time of departure, as well as how much time they anticipate they need to use the bathroom (black).

Priorities are determined by departure time and earliest wake-up time

COSMOS would determine whom to wake up first according to who needs to leave the earliest, followed by who needs to wake up the earliest. The rationale for this system rule rests in the fact that those who need to leave earliest should be given priority over those who have more time to get ready.

Behavioral changes affect wake-up order

In the case that a user wakes up earlier than his/her COSMOS time or in the case that snoozing occurs, COSMOS would rearrange the wake-up order according to the rules outlined above.