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Conscious smartphone use


Millennials' smartphone addiction has become a serious issue. As a team of both users and designers, we researched our target audience and developed a service and product to encourage conscious phone use.



Beatrice Zhou
Lorenza Ruiz
Harper Hunt
Toric Ma
User Research
Concept Development
User Interface Design


Feb - Mar 2018


Millennials present a concerning addiction to their smart phones. Teenagers averagely check on their smartphones 90 times a day. It is harder for them to balance smartphone usage and daily activities. There are damaging psychological effects when people use smartphones too much. Therefore, how might we encourage conscious smartphone use to prevent further damaging psychological effects on Millennials?


Analog is a conceptual system of smartphones which allows users to re-define their screen by having access to certain applications based on different modes. Users get to add, delete, and customize each mode to fit specific needs to encourage conscious smartphone use.
Analog is a conceptual system of smartphones which allows users to re-define their screen by having access to certain applications based on different modes. Users get to add, delete, and customize each mode to fit specific needs to encourage conscious smartphone use.


Easily switch to Analog system
Explore more options
Analog system provides different mode options based on different times of the day or users' activities.
Choose a mode and access only Apps you use
Prevent potential distractions from screen
Each Analog mode allows users only access certain Apps and displays all unnecessary ones to avoid distractions.
Add new modes based on certain activities
Increase productivity
Adding a new mode lets users have control about conscious Apps use based on specific scenarios such as a mode for kids or a mode for exercise.
Customize each mode with necessary Apps
Develop a healthier habit
Users customize each mode with the Apps they use and hide all others to avoid potential distractions and help users focus on their activities.


Literature review
Hi-fi design
Final user flow
Cultural probe
Bigger picture


Group ideas






Initial prototype
App usage analysis
Design exploration

Approaching the problem.

A glance at people's current relationship with technology

In order to better understand trends and how people interact with technology today, we did secondary research and recognized some of the latest changes. This shows an increasing concern over the excessive use of technological devices by Millennials. Below are some interesting facts. 

percent of people use their phone in the bathroom

percent check their phones for messages, alerts or calls, even when they don’t hear their phone ring or vibrate

percent of people believe they use their phone too much

percent of people can't make it through the day without their phone

percent of people check their phone within 5 minutes of going to sleep

Interviews, cultural probe, survey.

Understanding Millennials' habits and concerns with smartphones

To gain better understanding of how Millennials feel about their relationship with technology and their attitude about potential disconnection, we created a survey targeting Millennials about their habits with technology and feelings on disconnection. The questions we asked pertained to distractions, comfortability about stepping back, alternative options, and their ideas about a potential disconnecting features. You can view 70 responses here.
Social media on smartphones is the most distractive factor

64.3% of Millennials rank cell phones as the top device that they want to disconnect from

We confirmed that social media is the number 1 reason that distracts people

Most people prefer a feature that disconnects certain functions

In order to deeply understand how Millennials use their smartphones throughout the day, we created a cultural probe, A Day in My Life, and distributed it to interviewees to get more detailed information 
Key findings

Based on the cultural probe results,  many people are in a dilemma of wanting disconnection yet worrying about missing information from friends and family

There are certain periods of time during the day and activities when people would like to avoid distractions, such as spending time with family and friends and focusing on exercising, etc

People constantly check on their phones for no specific reason, it is a more about a habit and a sense of security that most people are not conscious of

The most effective yet simple way that people avoid distractions is being not able to use or reach their phones


Affinitizing to learn the mindset and getting high-level insights


Data points

User's voice



The next step was affinitizing all the data points from the research to distill key learnings:


Internet and technology have increased productivity and multitasking, yet over time individuals' behaviors are changing the more they use them.

Now ...

There’s an awareness of addiction, time spent on smartphones can be decreased by only keeping basic functions in technology, to get more real interactions.

They need ...

People’s relationship with phones has caused cognitive and physical behavioral changes. They want to disconnect in order to enhance their focus and appreciate everyday life.

So that ...


Focus on phones rather than other devices at this stage
Tangible first,
then behavioral and mindful
Explore several solutions on tangible Apps' limitations, changing potential users' habits, and educational mindset resetting​


Sketched out our ideas and based on insights 

This is the stage we sketched ideas based on the clustered insights and themes. By repeating clustering the sketches and creating new illustrations based on the similar themes and collections, we condensed the information and solidified ideas. The right picture was the last round of idea group sketches.


Focus on phones rather than other devices at this stage and explore solutions on tangible Apps' limitations

Initial Prototype

A key feature we agreed upon and wanted to test was letting users have access to certain apps on their phone screens during different times of the day. But we would like to know what users need to see on screen and is most effective for concentration and disconnection. 

Re-design control center to have more options

Certain Apps are faded and can't be accessed

Different modes based on different times during the day

Getting feedbacks to iterate on final design

We sketched several versions of phone screens and tested them  with 11 students to see which one they wanted to use, and the one with only necessary functions received the most votes. Testers mentioned the one with social media on it still made them want to use.


Current screen

Screen with some inaccessible apps

Screen with some functions

Screen with basic functions zoomed

Screen with basic functions

The options shown on the screens are the real distraction triggers


Checking  phones is more about a habit and an unconscious behavior without specific goals. However, the options shown on the screens are the real distraction triggers. Instead of trying to change users' behaviors of not checking phones or checking them less, we decided to add some limitations to smartphones that remind and provide users with an option to be more aware of their smartphone usage and assist users to build better habits.

High-fidelity interface designs

Provide two options, Time and Activities 
Display Analog in IOS Control center which is the best and easiest place to control the phone's mode compared to going to settings or creating a new App with the same features
Easily switch from regular mode to Analog mode
Access Apps only needed for each mode, the other apps will not be displayed on screen
Select different modes of activities for customized Apps
Add and delete apps for certain modes
Select the apps to feature in a certain mode and they will be displayed as dark
Use the updated work mode screen
Go to setting then to the mode they want to reset, this is the place users control all Apps showed on that mode screen where they are able to add or delete Apps
Add new mode 
Tap add - type new mode's name - choose icon - done
 Name new mode and choose an icon
 Once the new mode has been added, go to setting and choose certain Apps for the mode
An example to show a new mode screen. The user added and set a Kids mode where he choose to only show games on that mode screen
Adding and setting a new mode is simple and easy


Let's view...

Analog in a bigger picture

Having some limitations on screens reminds users to be conscious about what they do with their phones every time they check them, and therefore helps them build healthier relationships with phones in the long run. But what if we want users to have healthier lifestyles with technology in general, how might we help them develop this mindset?
Analog Package
Analog system
Analog box
Analog trifold info card
An info card inside the package to educate users about the addiction
Analog box at home to disconnect users from various devices inside 
Analog Box
Use it as a clock, speaker, charger, and most importantly to disconnect from technology by placing devices inside
Analog Informative Trifold
All the information you need to know about the negative effect of phone addiction and how Analog package could help you



The best way to understand users is to be the users.
Addiction to smartphones is always a popular topic. How to help people step back a little from social media, from all the distracting materials, and how to help people concentrate on what they are doing without constantly checking their phones is a real challenge. Users’ behaviors are hard to change. Therefore, how might we apply design to solve the problem has been a challenging task and an interesting process for this project. The best way to understand users is to be the users, where in this project we are designers and users. We were challenged, motivated and surprised about how our work led to innovative insights and a good solution.