Smart Studio

Cleanliness Control

Design Research Project, 2019

Team Members: Shannon Ha & Langston Wells

At Carnegie Mellon, 40 first-year design students share a studio space in the basement of an older building called Margaret Morrison. Because there's no air conditioning, airflow and allergies cause major issues during the spring when some students want to open windows to keep cool while others want the windows closed to prevent irritants from flowing in.


In addition to the blue foam dust, paper scraps, and excess particulates, how can we keep the studio space clean and organized all year round?


Pittsburgh is notorious for having moderate levels of tree pollen during the spring due to low humidity and high wind speeds; with that in mind, we decided to track the weather forecast, running conditions, particulate accumulation, and airflow in our area for two weeks to get an averaged sample along with observations about the impacts of spring around campus.



More specifically to Margaret Morrison, we also counted the surrounding trees directly outside of freshmen studio to see what kind of pollen was flowing into the workspace.

An allergy report from the week of April 15-19, 2019



Along with quantitative data, we wanted to poll the students of Maggie Mo to see if it aligns with our research and whether or not allergens are as big of an issue as we've made it out to be.

Intervention Iteration One

Our interviews matched up with our data and with our observations of the studio space and based on the number of windows that lined the walls of the area, our first idea was to create a collapsible filter that fits in the window opening to capture any particulates that are pushed in by the wind.

Furthermore, we also wanted to create a dispenser that would provide the right supplies based upon a weather forecast reader/display. For example, Benadryl and tissues if the pollen count is extremely high or hand warmers during the winter.


We found that the individual components within this iteration sounded nice separately, but when they were all together, it was rather disjointed and unintuitive for the user. When we prototyped and tested a smaller version of this iteration, people were confused as to whether they were supposed to interact with the filter, display, and dispenser if at all. Also, people questioned the benefits of having something so clunky within our already tight studio space.




Intervention Iteration Two

Through collaborative iteration, we each pulled and prioritized the components we thought were essential to make this an effective system. Our goals were to change student behavior over time and also have an adaptive model that's able to scale up or down if necessary.


We decided to use a combination of sensors from our first iteration and air purifiers to reduce the initial problem at hand of excess particulates in the studio space.


Based on our data, we understood that the air purifiers couldn't solve 100% of the cleanliness issue because a lot of the clutter within the studio is due to excess trash generated by the students.

Our intervention addresses this component by sending out a studio-wide weekly report that tells the students which areas/tables have been collecting the most dust over the course of the week. From there, it sends the students in those areas to the cleaning cubby in the corner of the studio to grab cleaning supplies and instructions on how to organize their space.


Representation of Cubby Space with Instructional Cabinet


Poster Final Deliverable

Our invention is confusing at first glance with multiple moving parts, so the last component of this project was creating an infographic that relayed the main use cases and steps in a digestible way.