Caffeine is a natural stimulant derived from a variety of plant sources including coffee beans, tea leaves, cacao seeds and cola nut seeds. It stimulates the brain and central nervous system. When consumed, caffeine causes an increase of dopamine (a type of adrenaline) in the consumers system. Over time, consumers develop a tolerance and must intake larger amounts in order to experience the same effects. This becomes a problem when individuals develop a dependency on the substance and experience negative side effects without it. When consumed in larger amounts caffeine can lead to insomnia, nervousness, restlessness, irritability, increased heart rate, and muscle tremors.

Additionally, consumers can develop symptoms of withdrawal if they stop consuming caffeine. Many individuals resort back to consuming caffeine in order to eliminate these effects. Individuals are not aware of the side effects of consuming large amounts of caffeine or how much is even safe to consume in a day. Research also showed that caffeine limit differs based on age and medical conditions of individuals.

Hence our challenge is to design a system that enables individuals to monitor and decrease caffeine consumption in order to avoid or eliminate the negative effects.
Academic Project
Team of three
Research - Literature Review, Interviews, Affinity Mapping, Brainstorming, Usability testing

Design - Storyboarding, Workflow, Low Fidelity Prototype, High Fidelity Prototype
Adobe Photoshop, Invision
Sep – Oct 2019
(8 weeks)

We have designed an app packed with multiple features like tracking caffeine intake, alerts, quick add favorite drinks, checking history, withdrawal guide and  achievements for successful streaks which will help the users to monitor their daily intake and decrease caffeine consumption.

This is the Sign-Up page where user's age and medical condition are also considered for setting the caff limit.
Home page where user can see the caffeine intake for the day.
When user adds new drink, it
reflects into the total caffeine take
of that day.
User can add regular drinks into their favorite list.
This favorite list is shown on home page as quick add which saves user's time.
If user exceeds the limit, a
notification is shown with phone vibration.
Withdrawal guide for alternate ways of reducing caffeine.
History tab with graph of caffeine consumption.
Achievement badges are given for
successful streak days to keep the
user motivated in using the app.
Caffeine consumption continues to be a problem for several reasons. Since it is a stimulant drug, caffeine intoxication causes multiple unpleasant symptoms associated with the working of nervous system and brain like restlessness, nervousness, excitement, difficulty, sleeping disorder, agitation, muscle twitching etc . When when an individual consumes caffeine their body develops a tolerance to the substance and requires more in order to experience the same effects. When an individual no longer consumes the amount of caffeine required to experience these effects, he or she may begin to experience symptoms of withdrawal like nausea, vomiting, muscle pain, or stiffness.
"Caffeine intoxication is recognized in the DSM-5, the manual used by clinicians to classify and diagnose mental health concerns, and caffeine use disorder is identified as requiring further study."
- Elizabeth Hartney, BSc., MSc., MA, PhD
"In the United States more than 85% of adults and children regularly consume caffeine."
- Frary, Johnson, & Wang, 2005
"Caffeine is the world's most commonly used stimulant, and it's cheap and readily available so people can maintain their use of caffeine quite easily.”
- Roland Griffiths, Ph.D., professor of psychiatry and neuroscience at Johns Hopkins

We conducted six semi-structured interviews with wide range of users from students to professionals who were addicted to caffeine or wanted to reduce their caffeine intake.
In our observations, we decided to go to different places individually. The places that we visited were : A local gas station (Same day in 3 time intervals), Einstein’s Bagels (Same day in 2 time intervals), Starbucks (22nd Sept), Barnes & Nobles (23rd Sept)
Interviews Key Findings
  • 50% of the participants experienced excess of caffeine consumption side effects like shaky hands, nausea etc.
  • None of our participants know how much of the caffeine they are consuming.
  • 80% of the participants drink coffee to stay alert and productive while other 20% drink coffee in a social environment or get urge to drink by looking at others.
Observations Key Findings
  • In the morning, people prefer tea, coffee or caffeinated soda and in the afternoon people prefer soda over coffee while in the evening people bought soda along with some food.
  • At cafes, maximum crowd is of students or working professionals. Many prefer sipping caffeine beverages while doing work.

Observation locations
Affinity Mapping
To organize the complex data that we collected, we used the affinity mapping technique. We sorted all the collected data into different groups according to their affinity or similarity. We were able to find following multiple themes :-
Empathy Map
User Personas
User is the key person for whom products and solutions are designed. We found the following key user requirements :
How might we design a system that enables individuals to monitor and decrease caffeine consumption in order to avoid or eliminate the negative effects?
As our three brainstorming sessions resulted in 50+ solutions, it was a big task to choose only 3 right solutions out of that. While we were brainstorming our ideas, we made sure that we stick to our goal of monitoring and limiting the intake of caffeine. After the criteria were met we segregated the ideas based on different parameters like feasibility, target audience, productivity, market competition, and cost.
Solution one
In the first solution we came up with an app which has multiple features like tracking caffeine intake, alerts, favorites, checking history, withdrawal guide and achievement badges for successful streaks which will help the users to monitor their daily intake and decrease caffeine consumption.
Solution two
The second solution is a portable coffee pot/machine which dissipates only a certain amount of caffeine in a day to the user. If the limit is reached, the user cannot drink consume caffeine from that pot/machine.
Solution three
For the third solution, we came up with a smart mug. The mug will have digital display and sensors which will indicate the amount of caffeine that is present in the mug. Calculations are done in the background for the daily intake and when the fixed limit is crossed, the lid of the mug will shut down and will not open until the next day.
Final Solution - TRACKCAFF
We decided to go with the solution one for the final design. This design solution fulfills the user’s requirements to cut down on caffeine or to monitor their daily caffeine consumption. Following are the key features of the application :-
1. Track daily intake and check history.
4. Favorites for making the process of adding drinks faster.
5. Withdrawal guide with guidance on alternative ways of coping with withdrawal effects.
3. Achievement badges for successful streaks to keep user motivated.
2. Alerts along with alternative suggestions for limiting intake intake.
User Flow

We created storyboard for the final design idea to understand the persona and product interaction. It gave us clear understanding of how the product will work.

Scenario for Madeline

Scenario for James


Low Fidelity Prototype Iteration 1 - Sketches

We did multiple app design iterations on whiteboard before making first low fidelity sketches on paper. Below are the screens for different important app features.

Low Fidelity Prototype Iteration 2 - Sketches

On the low fidelity iteration 1 screens, we performed our first evaluation using Cognitive Walkthrough technique. Accordingly, we improved the home screen by changing its design. Added 'Search by beverage name' in Add New Drink screen. Improved the notifications by giving alternative suggestions. Made add drink’ functionality faster by giving favorites a direct access on the home screen of the device(Quick add).

High Fidelity Working Prototype - Using Invision


This is the phase where we got the high-fidelity prototype solution evaluated by self and users.

➕Evaluation Methods Details

(A) Cognitive walkthrough:
It helped us to find the usability issues with the app. It made us understand how easy or difficult it is for new users to operate. By this approach, we divided each task into different steps and asked a set of questions to the users and evaluated the user aspect for our app design. Because of this approach, we were able to do step by step analysis of how users completed the assigned tasks.

We did the analysis on two important tasks which were imperative to the usability of our design :-
● Sign up the in the application
● Add details of a beverage that they are consuming

Key Findings:
1. Users face confusion while adding information regarding their medical condition and age.
2. User do not face any issues in completing the signing up form.
3. Giving favorites a direct access on the home screen of the device saves users time.
4. Users found navigation easy.
5. At some points FAQ could be helpful for users.

(B) Heuristic evaluation:
We performed this evaluation using both "The Weinschenk and Barker classification" and "Nielsen's 10 Usability" Heuristics. With the help of both the heuristics we were able to find out the usability issues in the app user interface (UI).

Key Findings:
1. There were an equal number of positive and negative findings.
2. UI is pretty clean, attractive and simple to use.
3. The navigation is easy and terminology is understandable.
4. Users will be able to complete their goal given.
5. There is need of a self-help guide or help section which can help the user to carry out the tasks they don’t know how to do.
6. Color inconsistency in some pages7.

After the evaluations, the main problems we found are:
1. Lack of in app assistance

2. Inconsistency in colors
3. Lack of clarity

Recommendations :
Three us did this evaluation with three different users and found the above issues recurring. So, we thought its worth to make app
changes with respect to the above three issues and then conduct one more user evaluation.
1. We would create a help page or in app tour that could solve some problems a user is experiencing. This would help the users in times of any confusion with working or conventions of the app. 
2. Additionally, we would make changes to the color scheme wherever it is required. Inconsistency in colors can also create uncertainty in the minds of user.
3. For removing the lack of clarity for ‘Age’ and ‘Medical conditions’ options on the sign-up page, we would add an information symbol besides those two fields which will let the users’ know in brief what these fields will be useful for. Also, this information can be added in the help section for which we are creating a page.

Design Challenges
1. We are not like user : Drinking caffeine beverages is quite common and we ourselves do that. Because of this many times during the research we put ourselves in the shoes of the users and assumed things which were proved wrong after user interviews. For example, we had assumed that users drink caffeine beverages only when they are stressed but later it was found that users also tend to drink caffeine beverages at social gatherings.

2. Avoid kitchen sink: Initially with our solution we were adding multiple features that did not compliment each other. After design critique we removed some features to make it simple and viable product.

3. Design critique is essential : At various stages of our design process, we consulted experts and users for their feedback which proved to be beneficial to get us to the viable solution.
Future Scope
For future development, we will proceed with implementation of our design. Before the product releases we believe it would be beneficial to fix some problems we discovered during our evaluations. We think looking into the possibility of a faster method for users to add drinks could be beneficial. A possible solution is to look into the use of a digital bluetooth mug which could sense the quantity and type of caffeine inside. A digital bluetooth mug could help reduce the number of steps a user would need to take in order to input drink information. It may also help users stay focused on their goals if we provide them some rewards.
References & Attributions


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