Sara Gustafson

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ToothFairy: A smart toothbrush attachment that promotes better overall dental hygiene in an engaging, inclusive way

Speaking for myself, I know that going to the dentist is an intimidating experience, and leading up to my visit, it is always a gamble of how well I have been taking care of my teeth. From this experience, I believe there should be a more simple way to track your dental hygiene knowledgeably. In comes my idea for ToothFairy.

ToothFairy is an IoT toothbrush attachment that can connect to any toothbrush and lets the user know– in real-time– how well they are brushing their teeth. The device also connects to a mobile application that logs toothbrushing history so the…

Showcasing how life is made of seconds

In hopes of illustrating the fun moments in life, I’ve crafted a video prototype for the application: One Second Everyday. This application allows its users to upload one-second videos for each day of the year. The application's goal is for the users to have a compilation of videos they’ve taken throughout the year. This cycle is always enjoyable and rewarding as users can revisit the highlights of their year. My goal with creating this video prototype was to recreate this fun, playful feeling that comes with using One Second Everyday. …

Testing the viability of a Voice User Interface (VUI) for the Lif IoT device

Lif supports a fulfilling, organic relationship between humans and their house plant by alerting the human when the plant needs care. After analog, 3D model, fabric, movement, and VUI prototyping, we are curious to explore the different interaction modalities that Lif may encompass. In this particular investigation, we will uncover how the VUI component of Lif may be used. Utilizing the Wizard of Oz prototyping method, we tested the Lif VUI on an unknowing participant while our team operated the device's technological component. With this method, we can understand if the Lif VUI is viable or desirable. …

Continuing to design Lif for a wider array of plant-loving and owning people

Lif is an IoT device that facilitates a healthy and fulfilling relationship between humans and their house plants. Lif has undergone many prototyping methods, including analog, 3D model, fabric, and movement prototyping. The investigation into the feasibility, desirability, and viability of Lif is extensive and continues with a Voice User Interface (VUI) prototype. This investigation aims to understand if this device has the opportunity to be interacted with using voice commands.

Lif analog prototype


The users of the Lif are both plants and humans. These users have differing roles: the plant will have the device stuck into its soil, whereas the human will…

Designing gestures to make Lif usable for a wide array of plants and human plant-owners

Lif is an IoT device that facilitates a healthy and fulfilling relationship between humans and their house plants. With many prototyping methods and iterations, including analog, 3D model, and fabric prototyping, Lif has been investigated with a wide scope. This movement prototype intends to uncover further the aspects of Lif that may enable enhanced usability for a wider array of human users.

Lif Analog Model

I will elaborate on the movement prototype by explaining the design rationale, the prototype itself, and lastly, the analysis of testing.


As explained in earlier prototyping blogs, Lif functions as a health device for a plant. It allows…

An IoT charging device that promotes a happy, healthy Lif device

If you have been following along with the Lif prototyping process, welcome back! The Lif device has undergone several prototyping methods thus far, including analog prototyping, 3D CAD prototyping, and now fabric prototyping. Accomplishing a fabric construction paved the way for Lif to be equipped with a charging complement: the Lif charging case. We will recap the user group for this design, view the prototype, and then analyze this design's feasibility.

Lif and the charging case


The Lif charging case has a similar audience to the Lif device: people interested in sustaining their plants’ health. Though the charging case's direct user group is the actual…

A continuation of prototyping an IoT device that promotes a happy, healthy house plant

Are you a plant-owner, plant-lover, or just curious about how to keep your plants alive and healthy for more than a week? If you answered yes, head on over to my Medium article where I explain the motivation and design for Lif: an IoT plant wearable. If you have already read that and are interested in how I prototyped Lif in CAD, you are in the right place. Let’s dig in.


To give a quick overview, Lif has two user groups: the plant itself and the human that interacts with the device and maintains the plant’s health. The device is…

An IoT device that promotes a happy, healthy house plant

Here’s a situation many of us know all too well: you go to the plant store and come home with one, two, or even three new plants. You are ecstatic to have this greenery in your home! A month passes, and all of your plants have wilted and dried up. What happened? If only you knew what went wrong, so you can properly take care of your next plant. Well, look no further because Lif is here to support your green thumb.

Let’s first understand the process of how Lif came to be.

Design of Lif

Tasked with crafting a design that would…

How programming my UX portfolio taught me how to be a more empathetic designer

Here’s a dip into my coding experience. It’s nothing to write home about, but it has taught me empathy and collaboration.
Here’s a dip into my coding experience. It’s nothing to write home about, but it has taught me empathy and collaboration.

My coding experience has been no stroll in the park. Though, from my understanding, this is the case for many students and professionals. I will detail the story of how I was able to shift my pessimistic view of programming to something that could empower my academic and professional careers.

Spring 2018

Having just discovered that my dream career would be in design and engineering, I underwent the daunting task of taking the introductory coding course at my college. This class was notorious for “weeding” people out. Meaning the goal was that people would take the class, realize coding and computer science…

How history and design may interact to inform a redesign of the Seattle public transit system

What comes to mind when you think of Seattle? Maybe it’s the Space Needle, perhaps it’s rain, or it might be the fish that supports the Puget Sound region: Salmon.

Though when you think of Seattle teams and brands, there is rarely a glimpse of the Salmon color; instead, hues of blue and green dominate the Seattle visual landscape.

Sara Gustafson

Human-Centered Designer navigating her way through projects with curiosity and empathy. See more at

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