Personal Assistant (PAAI) for working adults with ADHD

Collaborative technologies

Course: Collaborative Technologies

Methods: Desk Research, Fieldwork, Method 635, Stakeholder Map, Brainstorming, Sketching, Rapid Prototyping, Card Sorting, Experience Prototyping, User Testing, Role-playing

Role: User researcher and interaction designer

Timeline: 02/2016-03/2016

Teammates: Lennart (DE), Steven (DK), Thomas (DK)

Keywords: Collaboration, Assistive Technologies, ADHD, Social Computing, Experience Prototyping, Product Design


The main design challenge of this project concerned supporting/enhancing the participation of cognitively impaired people in everyday social or professional encounters (whether in the home, at work or other places). By cognitive impairments is meant designing for people affected by e.g. Alzheimers, Aspergers, autism, brain injuries etc.  – and the people around them.


Our prototype of lighting system helps adults with ADHD and cognitive impairments get started with routines and increase their productivity at home and especially in the workplace. The prototype consists of two objects: a controller and a taskboard. The synchronized taskboard with Google Calendar (set up together with productivity partner) visualizes an overview of daily tasks that ADHD worker physically (by pushing and rotating) controls with the controller that presenting a color of the current task.


Our team started with a fieldwork in a rehabilitation center where we were learning about cognitive impairments through participant observation and interaction.

Based on the fieldwork, we established several themes, that we discussed. We then decided to focus on following themes:
• Transitioning home from rehab
• Motivation and social interaction
• Establishing routines
• Engaging through collaboration
• Getting people back to work

Selected themes were matched to different cognitive functions such as an experience of self, higher level cognitive functions and memory function.

We defined our user group as adults with Attention Deficit /Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)Adults with ADHD can in many cases handle a normal working life. In order to be productive, there are certain areas that need special attention:
• Structuring the workday
• Avoiding multiple tasks
• Keeping the information flow simple
• Regulating interruptions
• Timing tasks
• Evaluating importance of tasks

By looking at how different adults with ADHD successfully structure their work-day, different activities were sorted into 8 categories:

After exploration of different ideas, we selected the concept where the ADHD worker collaborates together with a productivity partner. Defined working day and its activities might be expressed through interactive artifacts (PAAI).  

Stakeholder map

Stakeholder map

Throughout our process, we explored and developed several tangible prototypes to test our ideas with potential stakeholders and other design teams.

The tangible interactions of a controller such as finish/skip a task, need set up more/less time were designed based on students’ enactments with props.

Experience Prototyping

In concept development phase I contributed with electronics and Arduino code which provided defined interactions to our tangible artifact.


After testing our concept with several stakeholders, we were able to find new potential interactions with the artifacts, its improvements, and different use cases for ADHD’lers in the workplace and also for anybody who has issues with remembering, structure and time (taking a medicine, drinking enough water etc).