Iyagi: An Immersive Storytelling Tool for Healthy Bedtime Routines

A Family Sleep Solution for Philips Healthcare


  • Collaborative Project with Bori Lee, Manya Krishnaswamy and Chirag Murthy
  • Interaction Design Studio, Fall 2016 (Instructor: Austin Lee)
  • My Role: Design Research, Concept Development, System Mapping


  • As individual sleep solutions flood the market, Philips Healthcare asked us to imagine how augmented reality might support healthy sleep within the context of a family.


Iyagi has been accepted as a work-in-progress paper at the Conference on Tangible, Embedded and Embodied Interaction that will be held in Yokohama, Japan in March of 2017.

The Concept

Wrangling kids at bedtime is hard, on everyone. That's why we've created Iyagi. Iyagi is an interactive storytelling system designed to support parents and children through a fun, dynamic and consistent bedtime routine. Through immersive stories that unfold from room to room, Iyagi facilitates successful transitions from playtime into bedtime and gently guides children through nightly tasks. 


The Iyagi System

The Iyagi system is made up of several connected devices, the primary of which is a modular projector with embedded speakers, voice recognition and motion detection. Smart tags support further interactivity by incorporating physical objects and regular bedtime activities into Iyagi’s virtual story-scapes. Children engage with the adventure by completing bedtime tasks to help their friends and progress the story. The system is supported by the Iyagi cloud, which seamlessly connects this ecosystem of devices and can be controlled by the Iyagi smartphone app. Iyagi can also connect to other smart home systems, like lighting, to make these  stories even more immersive.


Bedtime is an important human moment and Iyagi helps keep it that way. Rather than take control, Iyagi supports healthy bedtime routines by removing the friction of transitioning into, and between bedtime tasks. This means parents and children can spend more time blowing bubbles in the bath, making silly faces in the bathroom mirror and imagining castles and dragons in the bedroom.

Iyagi's modular design makes it well suited for a range of family structures, bedtime routines and even house sizes and layouts. The immersive experience can be started in any enabled room through voice activation or with the app. When it's time to move, Iyagi sends the parent and child to the next bedtime task, where the interactive story continues. Finally, in the bedroom, Iyagi concludes the routine with a relaxing activity before the immersive projection scales down to a night-light.


Interacting with Iyagi

Iyagi employs natural and intuitive interactions. Speech is the system's primary input, and motion sensing technology supports further interactivity. A smartphone app is used for initial setup and provides an alternative channel for interacting with Iyagi's story-scapes.

iyagi interactions.001.jpeg

The Iyagi Application

Though the app serves primarily a back-end role, as the first touchpoint in the Iyagi user experience it was a significant consideration of the design. After download, Iyagi prompts the user through a one-time setup, walking through installation of each Iyagi device as well as tagging and logging specific items into the Iyagi system. Users can customize their child's bedtime routine and purchase new stories through the app. 

To keep users on track with their goals, Iyagi sends gentle notifications if it senses the routine hasn't been started within a few minutes of the specified start time. Iyagi also provides graphical reports to help parents track their progress and maintain consistency at bedtime.



Design Process

Exploratory Research

We began our exploration by looking at sleep in a variety of contexts. We pushed our notion of family, considering the unique needs of students living in shared dorms, families with new babies and individuals with sleep disorders. We conducted interviews with parents of varying ages and family structures to understand the challenges and opportunities within their current bedtime routines. We also spoke to an expert in Human Computer Interaction about the introduction of technology into a family context.


The biggest learning for us was that bedtime routines vary from family to family. While our understanding of “bedtime” was limited to a conventional definition, some parents thought of it as extending all the way from school pick-up until waking up the next morning. Each decision a parent makes during this time, from the food they give their child to the activities they allow, are in the service of an easier bedtime. We also unearthed an almost universal challenge with transitioning into the bedtime routine as well as the friction of moving children from one activity to the next.


Design Principles

From there, we concretized our research insights into actionable principles with clear implications for our design going forward.

Support moments of transition

A seamless transition to bedtime can mean the difference between a restless sleep for both parent and child and a peaceful night of healthy sleep. Transitional moments offer a unique opportunity for meaningful intervention. 

Let parents, parent

While parents are excited about tools and technology that help them build independence in their children, some things should remain human. Any intervention into a bedtime routine should simply support what parents do best, parent.  

Grow with the child

Much more than bedtime changes as a child grows. A technological solution should consider these many changes, adapting both content and interaction to meet the changing needs of a growing child. 

Research Insights

From our own research into the problem space as well as our conversations with parents and experts, we extracted three key insights that represent the complex human truths we wanted to design for.

Bedtime is a microcosm of parenting

When parents succeed at bedtime routines, they feel like good parents. When they struggle, it feels like a global failure.

Independence is important, but so are meaningful bedtime moments

Parents are eager to handover responsibility to their children, but bedtime remains an important ritual that parents want a part of.

Transitional moments are points of intense friction

Transitions during bedtime produce anxiety in both parents and children. Parents are anxious about time and feel bad interrupting positive play, and children are worried they'll miss out on something if they go to sleep. 


Developing Concepts

Following research synthesis, we moved into brainstorming concepts for development and testing. We went wide, constraining ourselves only by our principles. We explored provocative concepts both to test the limits of our ideas as well as draw inspiration from extreme solutions. After brainstorming, we voted for our favorite ideas and then sorted them based on similarity to arrive at a few concepts to flesh out further for testing.


We prototyped these ideas as narrative storyboards and narrowed down even further to our three strongest concepts. A digital artboard would ease the initial transition from playtime into bedtime through a calming activity and child-friendly time indicator. As further development of this concept, we explored how the experience might extend into the bedtime routine as an augmented reality guide. Finally, exploring opportunities for increased independence, we prototyped a concept for a surrogate physical objects that would move children through their bedtime routine.


Evaluative Research

We took these sacrificial concepts to potential users to test their comfort with these ideas. While our participants were excited about their creative potential, in particular the potential for imagination and storytelling, they were quite skeptical of technology that took over their role in the bedtime routine.


Iteration + Refinement

Identifying successes + Failures

With this valuable feedback in hand, we returned to our concepts looking for strengths and weaknesses to inspire our final iteration. We decided that fun, natural interactions were a priority. We also became increasingly interested in how our solution might fit within the context of a smart home, a space Philips is already working within.

Refining Interactions

We pushed ourselves to consider more novel interactions, incorporate tangible objects and make our intervention more responsive and contextually aware. We looked into gesture as a natural and minimally invasive input, but were concerned about the complexity of the technology it would require. We finally settled on voice as the system's primary input, and began sketching these interactions and their corresponding UI elements.

Final Ideation

To extend our thinking around environmental interactions, we explored what it might be like to personify rooms along the bedtime route — giving them each a personality. Eventually, we arrived at what would become Iyagi and began prototyping our concept for final presentation to the Philips Healthcare team.


Opportunities for Future Development

Considering Technology

Though the technology required to realize Iyagi as we've envisioned it does not currently exist, our research shows that the constituent elements are in wide enough use to suggest the possibility of a system like Iyagi.

Potential Partnerships

We also thought it prudent to consider potential partnerships that might help bring this idea to fruition. We envision opportunities for a collaboration with Disney to provide Iyagi’s illustrations and environmental animations. Additionally, partnering with Amazon would provide e-commerce support for the sale of Iyagi's immersive story-scapes. Integrating with additional smart home systems would support further interactivity. Together, these partnerships would help establish a service ecosystem to support a seamless experience with the Iyagi system.