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Case Study: Sibyl

A Solution for Industrial Washing Machine Maintenance Loops: Sibyl


Fall 2017

Roles: Visual Designer, Design Researcher, User Champion

tools: IBM design methodology, Adobe Illustrator, Storyboarding

Key learning opportunities: working in an interdisciplinary group, designing outside the classroom, presenting to a large group of professionals

collaborators: Lindsey Thompson, Will Kuglen, Tess Horany, Katherine Kykta


How can we use the artificial intelligence technology of IBM Watson and the Internet of Things to improve the lives of people in the industrial washing machine maintenance industry? This is the problem our team of 5 (1 designer - that’s me! - 2 developers, 1 marketing major, and 1 fashion merchandising major) was given 10 weeks to tackle. 


an unfamiliar problem space

This hybrid course between UT and IBM (read more about it here and here) has taken us through IBM’s design thinking methodology. I've gained experience working in an interdisciplinary group and navigating a problem space of which I've had no previous knowledge: industrial washing machines. Concepting proved to be a crucial exercise in keeping our solutions human-centered, despite the dense and technical nature of the issue.

field research

We were responsible for our own research, which proved to be a difficult task. Among countless cold visits and 15 calls, we had 5 responses and 4 meaningful conversations, resulting in 1 site visit. This visit propelled the rest of our process, as we now had a user to champion around. Owen the Owner, as we called him, gave us insights to the issue that we never could have guessed, including that his maintenance records were not digitized, and that machine malfunction had caused a fire at his previous facility.

developing a concept

We started writing specific statements about what we wanted our solution to do. The main problem was that outdated processes were causing industrial washing machine facility owners to lose time and money when addressing maintenance issues and waiting for machine repairs. Machine downtime causes employees to work overtime, clients to receive late deliveries, and thousands of dollars lost. What if our solution could be like a dashboard light on your car: it lets you know about breakdowns before they happen, so you don’t end up stranded.

Our plan was a preventative maintenance approach - capable of prediction, purchasing, and scheduling - in order to reduce machine downtime and costs.

our solution: sibyl

What if our solution could be like a dashboard light on your car: it lets you know about breakdowns before they happen, so you don’t end up stranded.

Named for the oracles of Ancient Greece, Sibyl is a preventative maintenance service that brings control and efficiency back to owners of industrial washing facilities. Sibyl is a personified digital solution that predicts maintenance issues, pinpoints parts that need replacing, performs price comparisons, and allows preventative maintenance visit scheduling.

final playback

In our final playback to members of the Austin design community, our team took on the colossal challenge of making washing machines sound exciting. As well as presenting to people who have been with us all semester, we also had to deliver our story with empathy and accuracy to those who were hearing our presentation for the first time. Our strategy was to express a technology-laden story through the lens of our persona, Owen the Owner. We emphasized his pain when the current system cost him valuable resources, and his triumph when our solution provides him peace of mind.

My roles were included the visual design of the deck (including custom vector illustrations), introduce the presentation, and to walk through the as-is scenario.

Our strategy was to express a technology-laden story through the lens of our persona, Owen the Owner. We emphasized his pain when the current system cost him valuable resources, and his triumph when our solution provides him peace of mind.

as-is journey

to-be journey

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explore our final playback deck