Future of First Response Research

Future of First Response Vision shows a way forward to products, tools and systems to keep emergency teams safe—and help them do their best as they keep the public safe. The research involved: ride-alongs with major metropolitan fire, police and emergency medical service (EMS) crews; nationwide, interdisciplinary workshops with fire chiefs, firefighters, police captains and officers, EMS commanders and technicians and first response device makers; frameworks to highlight core challengers faced by first responders; experiential prototypes; traveling prototype exhibit to share concepts with first responders and potential developers; and videos showcasing the research and results. 

Designed by: Tim Tocci, Alison Kotin, Elizabeth Kneen, Kristin Heist and Yuhgo Yamaguchi of Continuum LLC for Pacific Northwest National Laboratory

Contact: Allison Ryder

HTC Vive Virtual Reality

VIVE is a groundbreaking, room-scale, virtual reality (VR) system. It’s the result of user experience (UX) research from collective learning—taking a close look at: the lives, environments and habits of gamers; rigorous ergonomics to define hardware specs, improve comfort and fit and reduce heat accumulated by long usage and hardware weight; ease of setup and use; and human interaction with VR to distinguish virtual space vs. real physical space. The findings gradually evolved into new design patterns and guidelines—that could serve as the foundation of future VR product designs.

Designed by: HTC Corp.

Contact: Susan Burgess


In a single week an 11-person cross-functional team conducted customer research and analysis to define the first iteration of a new support service for it software offering. The team used three-minute video scenarios to detail their recommendations. After the resulting pilot, Crown began scaling the service across its retail operations—all in less than 12 months.

Designed By: Crown Equipment Corporation: Stephanie Adams, Greg Bretz, Andy Crampton, Rod Farley, Ryan Finch, Jim Gaskell, Jared Green, Jill Lawrence, Lance Meyer, Chris Monahan, Rebecca O'Neill, Brandon Ort, Roger Quinlan, Collin Rush, Phil Swift, Dan Zinn; Interactive Institute Swedish ICT: Brendon Clark, Sara Reinholtz


Hamilton Medical, Portable Ventilator Research

The team for the Hamilton Medical, Portable Ventilator Research took a holistic approach in evaluating the needs and pain points in the different types of environments and transportation scenarios that would require a portable ventilator. This research led to the creation of an entirely new category of portable medical ventilators.

Designed by RKS

Contact: Jessica White -


X-Porte User Research

The X-Porte User Research project set out to redesign SonoSite’s portable ultrasound machine. The team’s collaborative, holistic approach involved ultrasound stakeholders across global markets. Research found that despite the pressures of a stressful healthcare environment, physicians described an emotional rush of confidence when ultrasound helped them identify and treat a problem. The team anchored its strategy around the concept “surge of confidence.”

Designed by Joshua Hansen of Fujifilm SonoSite; Tom Bassett, Cassandra Michel, Scott Fitzloff and Ambika Jain of Bassett & Partners; and Scott Wilson, IDSA and- Steve Christopher of Minimal

Contact: Craig Chamberlain -


Hospitable Hospice

The approach of Hospitable hospice is empathic and multifaceted, enabling users to unpack the complexity and break the silence around the taboo subject of end-of-life care within inpatient hospices in Singapore. By engaging key stakeholders in co-designing their future, the project proved that design research is a powerful advocacy tool for social change.

Designed by Cristina Guembe, László Herczeg , Peter Kukorelli, Mar Llinés Montserrat, Lekshmy Parameswaran, Indri Tulusan and Haraldur Már Unnarsson of fuelfor healthcare design and consulting

Contact: László Herczeg - CONTACT@FUELFOR.NET


Moen Revolution Showerhead

Desiring to enter the consumer showerhead market, Moen knew they needed a concept that set them apart significantly from existing offerings. In order to successfully meet this challenge, the designers developed a research process that would enable a creative team to gain a deep understanding of what people experienced in a shower, a process that would ultimately lead to the successful Revolution Showerhead.

This research enabled designers to have a deeper understanding of the many aspects of the showering experience, including extensive observations of people showering, the physiology of the showering experience, people's perceptions about showering and point of purchase decisions made about showerheads. Within eight weeks of its introduction at Lowe's, the Revolution Showerhead became the number one selling showerhead (despite it being the most expensive showerhead they sell), and sales volume continues to climb.

"This is a fine piece of research--thoughtfully designed, deeply instrumented, and genuinely interesting in asking and answering important questions. The team had to design much of its own research protocols and lab settings to get the answers they need-all because ethics preclude observing someone taking a shower. Among the discoveries: people don't need to use vast quantities of water to perceive that they are getting the greatest shower possible-this is the first shower head that can save water without sacrificing the experience. And it is especially gratifying to note the result: this is the highest priced showerhead at Lowe's now, but still their best seller. It is a solid example of what breakthrough design should do: create premium value for enterprises, while giving customers something they love and think is worth the money." -Larry Keeley, IDSA, President, Doblin, Inc.

Contact: Gabriele Bartell,
Design Continuum, USA,

Credit: Design Continuum; Moen Inc.; H.I. Thomas Consulting Group; QualiData Research

"RKS Pop" Series Guitars

The Pop Series Guitar is a high quality, innovative, versatile instrument that is available in a variety of eye-catching colors. The design strategy focused on two main issues: the lack of recent innovation in the guitar industry and the consumption of irreplaceable natural resources in the production of guitars. The Pop series guitars have been perfected for balance, ergonomics and tone. A wide assortment of ribs and bodies in many bold, contemporary colors can then be added to produce an infinite variety of styles to appeal to a wide array of consumers. From a sustainability standpoint, the amount of tone woods has been significantly reduced. Typically guitars contain eight to ten pounds of tone woods from the rain forests of Central and South America. The RKS Pop series uses less than two pounds, which is obtained from domestic tree farms.

Contact: Ravi Sawhney, IDSA,
RKS Design, USA,

Credit: RKS Design; RKS Guitars

Chicago PT, L.L.C. KineAssist Research

For a child learning to walk, a parent's guiding hand supplies confidence, balance and comfort after the inevitable and usually harmless fall. For an adult relearning to walk after a disabling stroke, falls can be much more dangerous, and a physical therapist cannot safely allow a patient to push their limits of balance. Chicago PT joined with the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago (RIC), the premier rehabilitation hospital in America, seeking to provide more intensive and effective therapy for stroke patients without diminishing the crucial physical, sensory and psychological connections between the therapist and patient.

The KineAssist research program exemplified the user-observation process by IDEO, and involved the team's engineers interviewing therapists and patients and physical therapists participating in invention and prototyping alongside the engineers. The result was the KineAssist™ Walking & Balance Exercise System, now in testing at RIC. The KineAssist is a robotic device with the physical strength to provide an adult patient with balance and protection from a fall while still encouraging the hands-on care of the physical therapist. The project was supported by a grant from the Advanced Technology Program of the Department of Commerce.

Contact: Scott Underwood,

Credit: Chicago PT, L.L.C.; Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago; IDEO

Time Empowerment Research

Client: Johnson Controls

The client, an automotive interior supplier, wanted to address the general issue of time compression and investigate how car interiors might respond to areas of unmet needs. The design team looked at how people spend their time—from the beginning to the end of each day, not just the time in their cars. The team developed the Modemapping research process to express, organize and examine ethnographic research by providing a systematic manner for categorizing data. The Science of Modes component enables the team to view each subject's state of mind, activity and priorities and to communicate this overlapping information in a clear, visual manner. This research led the team to identify three primary areas for concept development: mad rush, catch up and oasis, different use scenarios where devices, systems and environmental enhancements could help drivers be more productive, fulfilled and organized in their daily lives.

Contact: Thomas White
Stuart Karten Design
310-827-8722 x237

Credit: Stuart Karten Design