The deliverables for our sponsored studios are typically the UX research and scenario videos that demonstrate the resulting prototype in use.  We do have some grad students with a computer science background, but we don’t have heavy technical chops to do backend programming.

A company could come to us and ask the students to, for example, explore the possibilities for integrating a conversational interface into a specific software platform for a blind or mobility impaired user. Or, maybe, research and prototype an interface that draws from machine learning to respond to individual user needs. Or, the project could stem from a newly identified pain point that the company wants to address.

The project should be something future-facing that the company is interested in exploring but doesn’t have the time to dig into right now. The students shouldn’t be doing the same kind of work that your employees regularly do already. The goal is not to produce a patentable project but rather a prototype that inspires possible directions.

Below are a few past studio projects. (Note, I can’t show a lot of recent work because of NDAs that are still in effect.) The projects below are either beyond the NDA restrictions or the client did not request one. The videos are part of larger presentations in which the students present the research behind the products. After the final project, I included some of the students’s process work for the IBM Watson project. Their research methods depend upon the project, but a typical structure would include benchmarking, user interviews, personas and scenarios, user journey maps, task flows, prototypes, user testing, scenario videos.

To see  more details about each project go to the home page of my website and click through the blog. There are full descriptions of each.

Sample Sponsored Studio Projects

Client: SAS Analytics
Project Length: 9 Weeks
Project Brief: Design the user experience of a brand new intelligent and self-learning data management system that automatically: discovers relevant and useful data sources and data quality issues among a pool of data sources, alerts users of these issues, makes recommendations for how to address the issues and learns to improve the quality of the alerts and recommendations based on user behavior.

Work by Student Teams



Client: North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences
Project Brief: Develop an assistive tool to transform the central dinosaur exhibition at the museum into an autism-friendly experience. This new assistive tool (phone, tablet-based, physical artifact or other embedded technology) should customize the exhibition to better serve the needs of young adults on the Autism spectrum

Work by Student Teams

Sound Imaginings, Designers: Lisa Callister, Mallory Schultz, Monica Ampolini, Nicole Robertshaw

Imprint, Designers: Kasey Poliachik, Morgan McDonnell, Tyler Hayes. © NC STATE.

Sleuth Tooth, Designers: Matt Kubota, Blair Torres, Aubrie Phillips

Client: IBM Watson Health
Project Brief: Design an interface that harnesses the capabilities of Watson product/s to address a range of impairment as a BVI or DDH user completes a specific task. Create a hi-fi prototype of interface and scenario video that demonstrates use of the interface in context.
Project Length: 9 Weeks

Work by Student Teams

Here-U Project

The Design Process for the IBM Watson Project

The Process:

  1. Matrix Exercise: mapping Watson tools to problematic tasks for DHH (deaf hard of hearing) and BVI (blink/visually impaired) users
  2. Benchmarking and User Interviews
  3. Personas and Scenarios
  4. User Journey Map of current user experience
  5. Identify pain points
  6. Ideation: What If Exercise to explore possibilities improv style
  7. Sketches
  8. Roughs
  9. Storyboard of new User Experience
  10. Crits with IBM
  11. User Testing with users DHH and BVI users
  12. Revised User Journey Maps
  13. Hi-fi Prototypes
  14. Scenario Videos and Final Presentations