Beacon: A navigation app for older adults who may or may not be experiencing memory problems related to early-stage dementia or MCI.

As a part of my final graduation project I worked on a wayfinding app geared towards helping older adults experiencing dementia related memory problems. The ageing population is the fastest growing segment of society, which means that a large part of the world’s population could be at risk from dementia.

Beacon is geared towards helping elders explore their neighborhoods independently and with ease. It is especially designed to cater to the needs of older adults who may be experiencing memory issues related to early-stage dementia or MCI. The app provides several services, all intended to help older adults feel safe, secure and independent in their residential neighborhoods, enabling them to be socially and physically active. 


Tools: Adobe XD, Adobe Illustrator, Photoshop, After Effects
Key contribution: Visual design, User Research, Conceptualization, Prototyping, UI Design, Information Architecture, Literature review,
Surveys and Interviews, Research Analysis, Empathy Mapping, Wireframing.

Focus Area: User Experience design, Research and Visual Design
Duration: 8 months

Design Process

Screen Shot 2019-07-26 at 4.20.21 PM

Who is the user?

thumbnailArtboard 1@300x

Principles of Universal Design

The idea for this project was born in Japan, where I saw how the principles of universal design had been seamlessly integrated into daily life. Drawing inspiration from the various things I saw around Tokyo and Kyoto, the concept started evolving. Creating data clusters from thousands of images, I discovered the key features that I wanted to address in this project. 

Part1Artboard 2 copy 3@300x

Data Clustering: Making connections based on universal design principles


To better understand the needs of the target audience, I conducted semi-structured interviews with dementia experts, caregivers and elders living with or without dementia in an assisted living facility.

Part1Artboard 2@300x

Research Findings

1. Being independent is important to older adults.

2. Most elders with or without dementia, want social interaction.

3. Outdoor environments play an active role in helping them live a better life. 

4. The diseases affects each person differently.

5. It helps persons with dementia to follow a daily routine.

6. Technology use is affected by age.

Research Question

How might we design a multi-sensory wayfinding system to help those living with MCI or early-stage dementia navigate their neighborhoods with ease and independence?


Screen Shot 2019-05-20 at 6.49.28 PM

Target User Persona

Robert Smith

Age: 60
Occupation: Senior Financial Advisor
Marital Status: Married

Robert has been experiencing some mild memory problems over the last few years and been diagnosed with MCI recently. He feels like he’s forgetting more than just what is attributed to aging. Though rare, he has experienced situations where his surroundings feel unfamiliar. Because he is forgetting certain things he feels like he may get lost one day and not know how to find his way back home. He worries about his wife's stress levels because she has to be constantly alert of his whereabouts. He wishes there was a way for him to perform all his tasks independently as he does not want to have to rely on other people for everything. 


User Journey & Empathy Map

user-journey copy
Process_ copy

User Flow Diagram

Key Features

Screen Shot 2019-05-20 at 5.01.06 PM

Map: for guidance and navigation

My Places: Saves all your frequently visited places

Location: Updates your caregiver/ loved one of your location and destination, so they know where you are

Help Me: Connects you with vetted volunteers available near your for help

My Routine: A calendar + planner that allows you to plan your day so the app can keep track of your daily activities and appointments and alert your caregiver/loved one of the same

Events: Informs you of interesting events around you

Emergency Call: Calls 911 in case of an emergency

Next Steps

1. Ensuring that people experiencing memory problems are able to use/ remember to use a mobile. This is possible if the persons are already familiar with using a mobile for everything (Gen X, Millenials, Gen Z) but what about the older demographic? 

2. Looking into wearable technology to make it easier for older adults who aren't as comfortable with phones. 

3. Research on voice controls and accessibility for a broader reach and inclusivity.



Design Prototype