Breathe Easy

Designing for Children
with Asthma

Philips Service Design Collaboration


How might we empower not only children with asthma but their parents as well?

Project Sponsored by Philips Design

We were given a design challenge by Philips Healthcare, to create service solutions for children between the age of 6 to 8 years, who are suffering from Asthma. Working in a team of five, we spent 6 weeks researching and ideating using service design principles and tools that would help us with this challenge. More focused on the process, rather than the touchpoints, we developed Breathe Easy.


Our service is centered around enhancing communication between parents and children as well as empowering the child to be independent through collaborative education and activity creation as well as by harboring trust.


Danny Choo, Deborah Lee, Eunice Oh, Minrui Li and Manjari Sahu

6 weeks – Service Design, Carnegie Mellon University, 2017

Instructor: Molly Steenson


Service Blueprinting, Storyboarding, User Workshops and Interviews, Animation, Wireframes.

Tools & Processes

Adobe Creative Suite, Invision, Customer Journey Mapping, Value Flows, Service Maps, Storyboards.

Helping Children with Asthma Live Easy

Breathe easy helps parents and children become more self-aware of their asthma, body, emotional wellbeing and physical limits. By providing safe activity suggestions for children based off of their data and environmental factors — we encourage children to be more physically active and keep track of their progress and achievements.

Our service aimed to help parents who grow overprotective of their children when they learn they have asthma and tend to not trust other people with their kids and also tend to limit their child’s activities. Children, observing their parents in a way, grow inhibitions about their own limits and feel left out of a normal childhood filled with activities.

A Progress Tool for Parents

Through the Breathe easy App, parents can access location environmental data — can see pollen count, weather, humidity etc. for the day so that they are well-prepared. Parents also get suggested activities that they and their child should do based on the health and interests data inputted.

Using these suggestions, parents can create an organized schedule that slowly builds up their child’s immunity and strength.

An Activity and Growth Journal for Children

Children receive a journal which contains their avatar and their favorite activities/hobbies — personalized to build an emotional connection. Through daily or weekly tracking, they learn to identify asthma symptoms and triggers.

This helps children understand their own body, how to manage their own asthma condition. By visualizing their achievements and the journey they can see how far they’ve come and be motivated to keep going with the program. The aim of Breathe Easy is for asthmatic children to stay physically active by pursuing the activities they love.

Value Flow

Service Blueprint

Interviews & User Research

In order to narrow our direction, we mapped out everything we believed to be related to children with asthma and explored problem spaces regarding this issue. We did a fair amount of research individually where we looked up the different issues with current asthma services (socioeconomic, relationships between parents and children etc.) to see which area we felt needed the most improvement. After we were able to list out a large number of topics, we decided to focus on utilizing digital action plans and informing children of their asthma conditions and treatments directly. We then decided to try to combine these opportunity spaces to create our service.

Initial Research

We began to create “How Might We” statements to decide what type of information we wanted to share. We asked ourselves questions including: What kinds of data do we want to explore? Could they be non-medical data such as workouts and asthma triggers? After mapping out our statements, we noticed that they were able to be grouped into empowerment, trust, and communication.

Interviews and learnings

We interviewed three people who had asthma in their childhood and asked them how they dealt with it during school and how they transitioned from parent care to self-care. We also sought families that we’re dealing with asthma management programs for their children to understand their problems.“My parents didn’t know how to handle asthma.”

 What we learned

  • Parents were constantly tracking their children, were frequently anxiety-inducing and grew to be fairly overprotective.
  • Children grew inhibitions about their own limitations
  • Accessing information: medical documents were still on paper and gleaning information was very difficult
  • Socioeconomics: minority kids in inner cities and in schools with low funding, were more susceptible to having asthma as well as more complications related to the condition
  • Social inclusion: children with asthma had the higher chance of being bullying targets

Defining our Opportunity

Upon brainstorming problem statements, we noticed our opportunity could go in a few directions, being empowerment, trust, and communication. With this in mind, we hatched out some of the core essentials we were looking at for our service system. This was our finalized service proposition:

“Our service is centered around enhancing communication and trust between parents and children as well as empowering the child to be independent through collaborative education and activity creation”

We defined communication as a regular exchange of activity data when necessary and trust as having the children make their own judgements and guide the parents create a sense of empowerment within the child

Brainstorming & Initial Concepts

We began narrowing down out concept — where we decide to focus on the beginning stages of asthma, or what we decided to call, onboarding asthma. First, we sat down and spent some time brainstorming touchpoints and rough conceptual ideas. Here what’s we were conceptualizing initially:

  • the doctor/child communication (via a physical, weekly log) with stickers
  • pen pal communication between asthmatic children
  • doctor/parent communication through digital portal, interpreting child’s postcards/stickers.

While continuing to conceptualize our solution, we often came close to falling into a pitfall of focusing too much on individual touchpoints and not the entire service as a whole. We drew back to clearly break apart our pain points and examine how to address solutions. By the end, we decided on three touchpoints: the app for the parent(s), and a journal/sticker set for the child to mark progress and achievements

Conceptualizing our solution

We decided to focus on collaboration between parents and their children, and decided to lean a little bit away from the onboarding experience.

This time, we focused on a scenario where our child and parent personas, the former diagnosed with asthma, are trying to understand the child’s limits and triggers. Upon signing up, the parent would download the app as the journal and sticker set would be mailed to their home for the child’s use. The child would be able to set goals and receive activities while the parent records them on the app. With data collected, they would receive bi-weekly summary reports of the progress made thus far, which can be sent to caretakers and school nurses. With each checkpoint, the action plans would be improved as the activities become more tailored to the child’s thresholds.


Service Experiments

We went forward into designing a service experiment where we would be able to find activities and games that children would enjoy playing for our service. We sought to understand how they related to images and illustrations to tell their story and how they share their day-to-day activities with their parents or adults in general.

We sat with three children and gave them a selection of pictures to choose from as well as markers for them to draw their own activities they play on their own. As they drew and pasted images, we asked them questions regarding those activities they found most fun, who they played with and whether or not they played it indoors or outdoors.

We were able to gain valuable information about the activities they enjoyed as well as their perspectives on how they relay information to adults.

Prototyping & Low-fi Design Iterations

Service Production

Taking inspiration from our experiments and storyboards, we moved forward with detailing our touchpoints. Working in tandem with the production of our app and journal, we continued user testing throughout this process.

Learnings & Future Considerations

We wished that we could interview more parents and children with and without asthma in detail to further validate our concept. We also hope to conduct more user testing with a fully working prototype.

Current Offerings

  • Personalized suggested activities
  • Maintenance of an active life
  • Empowerment of the child
  • Personalized stories “Sarah fights the dust-mites”

Current Limitations

  • Not being able to share and connect with the community

Moving Forward

  • Considering growth between different age groups
  • Transition Phases