Molekule - Case Study
Molekule is on a mission to eliminate indoor air pollution for everyone and in every home. Today, Molekule is the first air purifier that doesn’t simply capture pollutants, it eliminates them. It is the only air purifier that breaks down pollutants into their harmless, elemental components. Our goal was to leverage Molekule’s highly scientific hardware, and to create an engaging, consumer-friendly application. We wanted the users to know that Molekule was one of a kind.
I was the sole designer on the project. I worked closely with the Molekule marketing and hardware teams. I came up with concepts, user flows and the overall visual tone for both the application and hardware display.
Functionality is important for any new piece of hardware. I designed the hardware UI to be functional and powerful without the companion app. I added more functionality beyond basic controls within the application. The goal was to let the user be in control no matter where they are.
Intelligence was the focus from day one. Molekule is a sophisticated piece of machinery and I wanted users to understand the capability of the purifier. Molekule relies on machine learning to optimize the air purification process by designing an Auto Mode that utilizes data provided from the user and data that is pulled remotely: outdoor air quality, the season, and temperatures.
Before sketching, I like to start by mapping out the information architecture. A unique challenge with this project was mapping out the appropriate touch points between the hardware and the application. I thus designed the hardware interface to operate both independently and collaboratively with the application.
During the sketching period, I landed on a simple interface. While this is an expensive piece of hardware, I didn’t want the users to feel overwhelmed with options.
I typically do user testing during wire frames to remove unnecessary steps and track user behaviors. During this time, I landed on the proper onboarding questions to help calculate the cleaning time.
Originally, I had basic graphs showing data and cleaning progress indicators. After many iterations, I ended up with a minimal approach. The emphasis was on the visualizing the cleaning progress. I animated particles flowing freely in the background and being eliminated by the hardware. This approach not only decluttered the control screen, but also intrigued the user with a constant smooth animation.
The onboarding requires a connection to the hardware. I created two separate experiences for both the hardware and the application. There is a handoff period if the user starts from the hardware. If one chooses, the basic onboarding can be completed within the hardware itself. For a more comprehensive experience, the user can onboard within the application. I also required that users answer three simple questions before proceeding to the home screen within the application. These questions help the hardware make better calculations and decisions when in Auto Mode.
A Minimal Experience
I wanted to create a sense of intelligence in the application that was evident to the user. I leveraged Molekule’s ability to make changes without user input. Auto Mode was designed to take data from its many censors and clean the air with optimal efficiency.
Users in the US are not as concerned with air quality like users in some parts of Asia, so I needed to reinforce Molekule’s patented technology, Photo Electrochemical Oxidation (PECO). I sought creative ways to educate consumers about the effects of air pollution and the efficacy of the technology with fun illustrations. I also used illustrations to walk users through the replacement of filters.
The End Result
The Molekule application combines intelligence, minimalism, and functionality. Through a deceptively simple user interface, I introduced smart controls, informative illustrations, and unique interactions. The result is a design that improves the experience of owning one of Molekule’s air purifiers and complements the state-of-the-art technology behind the purifier. Nominated for a Webby award in digital product design, crowned the Edison Award Winner in February 2017, and named one of 2017’s most innovative products by Time Magazine, alongside the iPhone X and the Tesla Model 3. Now on its fourth release, it has once again sold out in a matter of hours.