Innovation with Empathy

Michael Carroll, a researcher at Fast Company magazine, used to work with C-level leaders who have difficulty to support their ideas as an executive coach. Based on his experience helping the top management to solve the problem, Michael found that the people who can successfully bring new ideas to maneuver have a common characteristic, resonance. It is important to resonate or experience others as if from within their own skin so that agents could have a broad perspective about the whole issue. Then, the agents could generate proposals that cater to different stakeholders.


Design Proposal:


Same reasons apply to the methodology we adopt for the semester project. After learning necessary skills of 3D designing software in the past weeks, we formally started to design for the semester-long project. Focusing on resonance or empathy, we began brainstorming.


First of all, personally I always want to get a case for my laptop, Razerblade. However, it is a very uncommon brand and only has a few users. Accessory suppliers do not have the interest for making the customized case for Razerblade. I do believe the users of other uncommon brand laptop must have the same problems as well. Thus, the first idea for the final project is to design an expandable laptop case. Because the size of the laptop case can be adjusted, it literally can fit any laptop regardless of their sizes or types.


One of my teammates cares a lot about her health condition. She would often dehydrate while she herself does not notice the situation at all. Although she has a fitbit to keep track of her health condition, she still would not drink water timely. Accordingly, we think a lightening wristband that can remind users to drink water would help dehydrated persons solve the problem easily.


Sometimes, we also notice that in our apartments, lights or lamps are on while no one is in the room. To make our apartment green, we want to design a solar panel noise detection lamp. The lamp will turn on automatically when it senses noise and will dim when the environment is quite. Users can place it under sunlight in the daytime to charge. We believe this lamp can not only make users lives convenient but also more green.


Bike is one of the most common transportation tools on campus. Every cyclist knows the importance of wearing a helmet, but at least half of them even do not have one. It is cumbersome to carry a helmet, especially when the user has to carry it from one classroom to another. To solve the problem, we plan to design a contractible bike helmet with a lock. The helmet can be contracted into a lock when the cyclist park the bike.


Honestly, I didn’t expect that we can generate so many ideas within 20 minutes. I have to say the positive atmosphere really boosts the innovation among us. As emphasized in the supplemental readings, belief in yourself and your colleagues will create a mutual positive influence.

2 thoughts on “Innovation with Empathy

  1. Hi Yuanzhen! I love the product by Razerblade of the expandable laptop case. When I bought my first laptop case I did not know what retina display was so bought a case too large for my laptop. It took two more tries to get the right case. It was frustrating and time consuming! The expandable laptop case would of solved my problem. I also have a problem with not drinking enough water. I never think about it and then at the end of each day I’m dehydrated! I really like the idea of a reminder to drink water on a fitbit.

  2. Yuanzhen, your understanding of empathy and its role in product development is impressive. I believe that with any successful design, there has to be a demand for such product. So the ability to be able to empathize with the audience will give the investors a much more well-rounded stance and a deeper understanding on how to tackle that issue from all facets. I have found a great article from Forbes that specifically relates empathy to allow businesses to thrive in their prospective markets.

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