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Sneak Peek: 2020 GRAY Awards Finalists

Design students brought their A-game to GRAY Awards 2020. Here is a detailed look at the 3 finalists of this year's Student category.

Finalist: Chorus

University of Washington Industrial Design

Chorus bridges the gap between toy and professional tool for music production. Primarily designed for children ages 9-13 with existing musical interests and music education, Chorus helps users understand the building blocks of a song.

It is comprised of a set of module blocks that represent different musical instruments. By configuring the blocks together, the user can create compositions of looping instruments and effects, such as a chord progression over a repeating drum beat. The blocks are magnetic and able to stack on top of one another, leading to hundreds of ways of putting a song together. Children learn how adding or taking away certain instruments affect a song, and they can practice creativity and exploration in the ways that melodies and compositions can be customized. The accompanying interface of the main module block helps to organize previous compositions, display cool animations, or educate children in what certain audio effects can do, and samples of common ways to play certain instruments.

Chora, a music learning instrument with stackable magnetic module blocks of different instruments and sound effects in primary colors on a peach background.


Design Team: Terrene Huang

Collaborators: Justin Janczakowski, LOUD Audio; Christopher Alviar, Stryker; Faculty and Peers, University of Washington

Date of Completion: June 2020


Finalist: Cora

Western Washington University

Cora AI companion modern hypertension system with wristband, charger, monitor, and cell phone with app on gray background

Nearly 50 percent of adults in the United States suffer from hypertension, and only 24 percent of them have it under control. At least 4 percent of the population struggle with health anxiety or hypochondria. Those suffering from both conditions have even more difficulty managing their blood pressure. Their worry over their blood pressure actually increases it and creates a cycle: blood pressure fluctuates with

stress and when seeing a high reading on a monitor, the negative feedback creates a loop.

Cora is an AI companion that can help combat the loop. Through the use of Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT), health suggestions, and reminders, Cora can challenge unhelpful cognitive behaviors while improving the emotional development of coping strategies and help promote a healthy lifestyle. CBT follows simple thought exercises and is effective when applied by AI. Cora is no replacement for a real therapist, but it can be incredibly helpful in breaking invasive thought loops that come along with health anxiety.

With PPG technology, Cora's wearable blood pressure monitor takes readings continuously throughout the day. A soft fabric screen creates gentle interactions as to not facilitate anxious and incessant

checking. Simply tap the face of the watch to display the current blood pressure, the dotted ring gives a quick visual representation of where the user is on a scale, but without alarming numbers.

Exact readings can be found on the app. Cora's app provides more detailed information about the user's blood pressure. They can check their current and past readings, set goals for their future, send information to their doctor, and speak with Cora.

Cora hypertension high blood pressure app images

To charge the wearable monitor, place it on the base of Cora. Then to speak to Cora, simply lift up her head to wake her. This creates a passive form when off and an engaged form when on. Interactions with Cora are always initiated by the user, creating a new layer of privacy in the age of AI.

Cora AI companion on white desk with book and plant in white planter and white walls

With Cora, we can help people take control of their high blood pressure and promote a healthier lifestyle.


Design Team: Israel Amador and Mitchell Hiers

Date of Completion: March 2020



Austin Scott & Jo Bloomfield, Western Washington University

Lo blood pressure bracelet in navy blue with LED lights on gray background with

Lo is a wearable device for young adults that encourages blood pressure awareness and promotes positive lifestyle changes. This product is for individuals in their early twenties when prehypertension arises. People are often uninformed of their blood pressure until it becomes a bigger problem and permanent damage is done. Targeting this age group is important, as it is a pivotal point of change in every young adult’s life, taking charge of lifestyle changes is important for healthy behavior in the future.

During our research, we found a few insights that guided our design decisions. Hypertension is often asymptomatic, leaving people unaware of their elevated blood pressure. It is also extremely important for individuals to establish healthy habits. Changes in lifestyle lead to long-term improvements in blood pressure and heart health. We also found blood pressure trends over time gave more accurate blood pressure data due to changing variables throughout the day.

Lo high blood pressure cartoon storyboard cels
Lo high blood pressure cartoon storyboard cels

Our goal for this project was to create a device that makes it easier for young adults to notice their rising blood pressure and be able to take action. However, one of the challenges we ran into in our design exploration was creating a device that encourages positive lifestyle changes while not being invasive to their daily routines. Giving young individuals the ability to understand their health is imperative, yet blood pressure numbers can be overwhelming to lower. Within the Lo app users are able to set their blood pressure goals to break down the information and make reaching the goals feel more attainable.

Lo high blood pressure monitor bracelet on woman's wrist at cafe with black sleeve and red nail polish with cell phone on table and iced latte

On Lo’s face, there are five LEDs that are shown, these LEDs are programmable within the Lo app. Users are able to set their blood pressure goals, when all LEDs are lit up their personal goal has

been attained. When the goal has been achieved, users can go into the app to set a new goal or maintenance blood pressure range. Measuring blood pressure requires new technology. Lo has an integrated Photoplethysmogram Sensor (PPG) which projects small lights onto the surface of the skin, reading blood volume changes which in-turn can display blood pressure data. Lo also has an integrated capacitive touch sensor and vibration motor which provides feedback based on their progress.

Lo high blood pressure monitor app screenshots

Giving young adults the power to be in control of their health is the most important aspect of a healthy lifestyle.


Design Team: Austin Scott & Jo Bloomfield

Date of Completion: March 2020

***** GRAY Awards winners will be revealed during GRAY Awards 2020: The Movie! Premiering on YouTube on December 3, 2020, at 7 p.m. PT. Subscribe to GRAY's YouTube channel for alerts. ******


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