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Helping Parents to Protect Children from the Smog in China

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Project Type:  Product design

Roles:  Product designer

Team:  Individual work

Timeline:  Winter 2017

Design Challenge -
Protecting Children in China from the Smog

In China, the smog has become a serious issue that threatens children's health conditions, who are more susceptible to smog than adults. Children often need special accommodations such as children-size masks. In addition, on extreme days, kids cannot go outside and enjoy the nature or play with friends, which is bad for their mental health.

Solution Overview

To better protect children from the smog, I came up with a mobile app with the features of a dashboard, an air map, an online forum, and a device management page AirC (Air Care) is an app that helps parents protect their children more efficiently in smog by providing weather forecast and useful tips, monitoring home conditions, and creating an online community for parents to share information.

Screens of Mobile and Watch Interface

The Research

To better understand my design challenge and the problems children and their parents are facing in China, I kicked off my research on looking into what is already out there and understanding what children and parents really need on smog days.

Understsanding Users

By interviewing parents and children, I built three personas and concluded that parents care most about reliable and efficient AQI forecast and advices to protect their children, while children care most about their health and entertainment on smog days.

Marketing Research

Based on the interviews, I collected the important features my interviewees mentioned. Starting from those features, I chose five apps as competitors. It seems like the necessary functionalities to cope with smog days are distributed in different software that has relatively bad user experience and low reliability.


Eight Solutions

Based on the research insights, I started the design by sketching out different solutions, ranging from a mobile app to pervasive interactions such as smart mask. I came up with 8 approaches to help parents keep their children safe and entertained on smog days.

Rapid Prototyping

To validate my research ideas and the initial design, I conducted a round of rapid prototyping and tested with users.

Paper Prototyping

The first iteration is rapid prototyping on paper. I sketched a mobile app interface with five tabs: dashbaord, forum, add post, air map, device.

Testing with Users

Then I tested with two users with the paper prototype and here are the major takeaways from the test:

  • The tips on dashboard are common-sense and not helpful enough
  • Some icons are vague and might cause confusion
  • The questions in the forum should be more organized
  • The post function might not be used often

Putting Together The Workflow

Design Details


Parents can view current air quality, air forecast, and tips to prepare for their children. They can also control connected devices on the dashboard.

Air Map

Another design highlight is the Air Map function where users can get a comprehensive and intuitive view of the air conditions nearby as well as across China.


Parents can also connect to any supported devices, e.g. air purifiers, and monitor home conditions to make sure that children at home are in a healthy environment.


I use a combination of push notifications, in-app banners, and widgets to provide accurate and timely forecast.

Design for the Eco-system

To help parents get notifications and forecast more easily and control connected devices remotely, I designed the smartwatch mini-app which supports the basic but essential functions.


I created a working prototype in InVision to demonstrate the functionalities and design of interactions. Here are two snapshots of the dashboard and forum interactions.

Dashboard Interactions

Parents can view current air quality, air forecast, and tips to prepare for their children. They can also control connected devices on the dashboard.

Forum Interactions

Parents can ask questions on how to protect in smog. There will be professionals as well as other parents active on the forum, which forms a social group.