What is EVO?

EVO, Inc. is a service that partners with local municipalities and public transportation services to make trip with kids a learning-focused adventure. The service is a customizable and internet connected toy called Evo that teaches kids about traffic rules and gives them location-specific information. Evo has a companion app that transforms boring daily routes into adventure quests.

EVO, Inc. was a 3 weeks Service Design project at CIID taught by Mike Peng, Simon Herzog, Daniel Letts, and Steve Bishop. This project is completed with Can Yanardag, Arvind Sanjeev, and Charlotte Asakskogen. My role in this project was research, prototyping, and strategy.


Meet Evo! The alien botanist

What is your opportunity area?

How might we make traveling in urban centers less stressful and more rewarding for kids and parents?

Tell me more about your service!

We created Evo, a service and a product that turns any trip in the city into a learning adventure.

EVO, Inc. procedurally generates quests based on Google Maps data. For more tailored experiences, quest designers can design individualized quests for institutions such as zoos and museums.

For example, you can input a location into the Evo app, much like Google Maps, and the app will transform that route into a gamified quest with learning goals. Evo interacts with kids through a voice interface, giving them directions and quests.  Kids can earn stars every time they complete quests related to traffic safety and navigation. EVO helps parents to entertain and protect their kids. 

1. Parents and kids order Evo through an online portal

2. Evo arrives with all of the customization

3. Set up Evo with your kids

4. Input your destination using the companion app

5. Watch your route being transformed into a quest for Evo

6. Evo will guide your kids through a voice interface

7. Every time a quest is completed, your child can feed Evo a star!

8. Evo is connected to smart city infrastructure and public transportation systems

How did you conduct research and what were the insights?

We used a mixture of in-depth interviews, observational research, and empathy research.

In order to understand the topic, we started with in-depth interviews. We talked to both kids and adults about their traveling habits and experiences. We visited them in their homes and observed as they took their children around the city. To help us better understand the people that we are designing for, we created a set of interview tools to help us go deeper into their daily routine. Our transportation cards and journey map tools helped us to understand identify the pain points.

Talking with a mother in Zurich about getting on to public transportation with kids

In-depth interview with Jacob about his daily journeys with his daughter

Tools that we developed to help identify pain points

Another important part of our process was empathy research. Because none of us are parents with young children, we felt like we needed to experience traveling around the city from their perspective. In our first empathy experience, we traveled around the city with a stroller. We experienced the pain point of going through rush hour on public transport with a stroller.

In the second empathy experience, we rented Copenhagen style cargo bikes frequently used by parents to transport kids. We rode them around the city to experience picking up and dropping off kids.

Experiencing pushing a stroller through rush hour

Renting a cargo bike to experience picking up kids

In our research, we discovered surprising things that challenged our preconceived notions about traveling with children. We identified five insights that went beyond the problem of getting from point A to point B. These insights guided our ideation process.

“I usually give her some responsibilities during a trip such as to push the stop button in the bus and it empowers her."

- Jacob, parents of a 7 year old

Our five insights from research

Tell me about your ideation and prototyping phase.

Quick prototypes and bodystorming in the real world shaped our design direction. 

Based on our five insights, we realized that the act of traveling in the city and transitioning to more independent travel was an important milestone for both kids and the parents. When traveling with children in cities, parents often teach and mentor their kids to be independent. Traveling together is also an opportunity for heart-to-heart conversations. After several rounds of sketching and ideating, we dot voted on the ideas that best address our insights.

We dot voted on our favorite concepts

All of the post-its and our service blueprint

We had to kill many darlings

To validate our choice, we created quick prototypes to test in the real world. We created a physical companion that would help guide kids throughout the city. We strapped an iPhone to a pillow and went out into the real world to body storm our concept. 


Bodystorming helped us with figuring out the details of the service journey

Our first prototype was a pillow with a phone

In order to continue the development of the product and service, we need more input from the participants that matter: kids! We set up three testing and co-creation sessions with parents and kids. We brought them our lo-fi prototype and brought it to life using wizard-of-oz techniques.

We learned that kids did not need access to the digital interface. A voice interface worked well. They quickly become attached to EVO and readily believed the narrative that we built. However, when it came to parents, having a digital interface was important to keep track where they were going and to educate their kids about road safety.


A weekend testing session with Leo who loved to feed Evo stars

Allegra gave us some tips on the UI design

Luna was really sad to see Evo leave

High fidelity prototype and business plan

In the final phase of the project, we focused on the story building, service journey, and business plan.

From the testing sessions, we realized that to engage with young kids, we needed to create a narrative around EVO. Thus, the story of EVO, the Alien Botanist, was born. The kids loved the idea of doing challenges that would help EVO get home. We found that road safety and navigation themed challenges worked well when they were incentivized with a feeding reward. We moved on to working in higher fidelity.

Evo was created stitch by stitch!

Material and shape exploration of Evo

We really challenged ourselves to think about the business aspect of this service. He wanted us to think about the viability of the product from more than just the design perspective. We envisioned our service as a subscription model where parents can buy into new quests. We did some market analysis and found our price proposal to be similar to other smart toy offerings. The parents we spoke with were happy to pay for a service like this.

Evo product and quest pricing

What was your role in this project?

I was focused on in-depth interviews, prototyping, and overall strategy. 

This project was a great opportunity for me to try out new research methods. I was able to conduct in-depth interviews, empathy research, and analogous research.  I took a lead role in building and creating the final version of Evo. Finally, I contributed to the project on from a high level and created the business strategy.