Prototyping Pop-Up Session at NYC OpenIDEO Chapter (June 23rd, 2016)

I got to our pop-up prototyping session scheduled to be held at a mid-town office space a little early to help set up the session for the evening. A pile comprised of Barbie dolls, fabrics, magic markers, sticky pads, and every item imaginable you would find in a kindergarten crafts bin filled a long conference table.

The evening of pop-up prototyping session was about to begin.

For the next 90 minutes, NYC Open Ideo chapter members and friends created a series of innovative prototypes addressing end-of-life experience for patients and caretakers.


Death is such an unsettling topic. So how might we re-imagine the end-of-ones' life and create a positive and delightful experience for all who are involved in the process? With this challenge in mind, Lee Kim (Pop-up session facilitator) and about twenty designer thinkers of the OpenIDEO NYC chapter worked hard to create with the following prototypes: The Emotional Clock, Rainbow Reward Program, Super Hero Kit, Caroling Digital Platform and the Mood Master.

The Emotional Clock prototype created by group members Thao-Nguyen Le  and Kaiyi. The wearable prototype was crafted from pipe cleaners and paper plates. The clock is divided into six segments that list emotions: joy, sadness, disgust, anger, fear and ask me. The emotional clock has two dials; the longer dial indicates the user’s primary feeling whereas the shorter hand reflects their secondary emotion. The user would modify the dial to indicate how they are feeling at the moment. Since the users’ (patient and caretakers) emotions are publicly displayed, it lends itself to conversations about how they are all feeling thus building connectedness.

Team members -Jocelyn and others - formed The Rainbow Reward Program that is geared toward pediatric patients. It praises the bravery of children who are going through harsh medical treatments. As a celebratory prize, the caretaker provides a piece the rainbow when a child successfully complete their treatment. When a patient collects seven pieces, they can request a wish that will be administered by a caretakers. By providing an environment for caretakers and pediatric patients to participate in the Rainbow Reward Program we are building relationship between both parties and create a community where people can share their feelings.

The Superhero Kit, like the Emotional Clock, is a wearable device. It will be provided by caretakers to pediatric patients to engage in fun and creative activities. The prototype was fashioned by the following group members: Carson, Luti, Rolando, and Lorain. When a patient is exhibiting sign of distress, the caretaker surprises them by sporting a superhero cape kit. The Superhero Kit contains two capes and art supplies. The capes can be adorned, drawn or written on. The caretaker wears the capes and prompts the child to express what they are feeling visually on the cape. The young patient also has a cape of their own and the caretaker taker now can also express their feelings.

Sing me a song starts from the time a patient is admitted to the hospice unit. When a patient is admitted, caretakers ask what his/her favorite songs are. The data is collected then housed in the Caroling Digital Platform. Through the element of surprise, the caretakers band together and sing a song for the patient (based on the data of his/her favorite tune). This group of design thinkers utilized music as a device that bridges gaps, conjures memories and evoke positive emotions.

 The Mood Master is a program constructed by team members-Asha , Davendra , Ding , Stan, and Page- to help medical practitioners to recharge emotionally through power of community. The participants embellish a pin board with a colored post-its to represent their mood. Vulnerability Director assesses the mood-board and determines the morale of staff and reports the findings to the Mood Master. Once a week, a Mood Master is appointed to facilitate conversation among staff so they could share their feelings. Collectively, the Mood Master and medical staff come to solutions to their challenges.

Overall, OpenIDEO NYC chapter prototyping pop-up session's core ideas were inspired by: a palliative hospice nurse who has been in nursing for 9 years, the director of Pediatric Palliative care at a children's hospital in NYC and a pediatrician who works with teens at Juvenile Justice Center.

We intend to put these ideas into testing and create solutions that will shift the paradigm of the end-of-life experience as sad and unwelcoming time to a delightful and rejuvenating experience for all.  

By Lorain Hamilton, Graphic and Illustration