RISD Thesis: Users and Concepts


In my research and surveys, I learned that teenagers would rather live without television than without mobile phones or the internet. Their lives are socially driven and their mobile phones and computers are the portal to their friends. Outdoor activities are driven by the opportunities for social interaction and include mostly afterschool athletic programs such as running, basketball, baseball, football, swimming, and soccer. While their brand preferences are diverse, corporate names tend to be quite universal such as: Nike, American Eagle, Forever 21, Aeropostale, K-Swiss, Apple and Kodak.

Their design needs call for a solution which combines their social life with technology, and an interaction that is rewarding, attractive and engaging.

  • Would rather live without TV than mobiles or internet

  • 54% have a social networking profile on sites such as Facebook

  • Using cell phones and games consoles to go online

  • A third have a smartphone

Outdoor Activities:

Walking, running, basketball, baseball, football, swimming, soccer.

Brand Preference:

Nike, American Eagle, Forever 21, Aeropostale, K-Swiss, Apple, J Crew.

Needs from Product:

To combine social life with technology. Rewarding, attractive and engaging.

Social Interaction

From my research and personal experience, I gathered that these consumers seek to prove their independence, but mostly when in the company of their peers. These opportunities for community building often take place in the form of online social networks, and also after school athletics.

Meanwhile, puberty is the age in which incidence rates of malignant melanoma begin to climb. The medical community makes a strong argument on the importance of conducting regular skin self-examinations. However in my survey, no participant under the age of 20 had ever conducted a skin examination. In fact, my very own memory of being a teenager reminded me that I was oblivious to skin cancer, or even the risks and preventative measures, let alone the procedures to conduct a skin examination


Concept: Social Event

One afternoon I logged into Facebook, and noticed an event invite. I proceed to read the event’s details and replied my attendance after reviewing the list of invited guests.

It was at this exact moment when I realized the power of Facebook. Facebook plays an immense role in the social life of a teenager, now I wanted to explore the possibility of using this medium to promote public health within this demographic.

Currently, thorough self-skin examinations (TSSE) are recommended ranging from every month to every 6 months. Taking the worse case scenario we could state that a TSSE should be conducted at least once every six months. However, I seldom remember what I am doing three months from now, and the use of an agenda only came into my life during graduate school.

As a possible awareness concept, what if I was to create a Facebook page in partnership with a foundation or professional organization. We could use the Events feature to “invite” high school and college students to conduct a TSSE collectively and in the comfort of their own home.

The invitation will show the reader the other people participating on the event, and may persuade the individual to become part of a social event and give the examiner a sense of community. The reader will then have the option to press: attending, maybe attending or not attending.

The event will be set for a particular date, and linked to a website which will contain information and videos on how to conduct a thorough examination. Afterwards, participants will posses some of the basic education for melanoma awareness.


Concept: Mërlin Water Bottle

While visiting popular sunscreen websites I noticed that there are “Sport” options, specific to an active lifestyle. Later on a medical journals I read about the necessity to reapply sunscreen after strenuous exercise.

Through personal experience and online surveys I also gathered that athletics play a big part of teenage social development. Two facts about teenage athletics are that all athletes need water, and second that most high school students are not financially secure to buy water bottles for every practice, instead, a rugged water bottle is often purchased and refilled.

I remembered that there are very few things one can bring onto the field during practice or a match; certainly sunscreen was not a priority. However, what if I was to combine these needs, one for hydration and another for sun protection. This hybrid product seemed perfect for a consumer that led an active outdoor lifestyle.

Mërlin is a three-part water bottle. A main feature is the UV reactant paint used on the bottle cap. The paint will change to colors green, yellow and red depending on the ultraviolet factor, acting as an alert system for the user.