Joe Medwid // UX, Illustration, Design
Team Kairos // NASA Capstone Project
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Each masters student at the Carnegie Mellon Human-Computer Interactions Institute participates in a rigorous 8-month capstone project, working in teams as consultants for major corporate clients. Each team communicates directly with their stakeholders, conducting research, synthesizing findings, producing deliverables, and ultimately testing and creating a working prototype. Team Kairos is proud to be the ninth in a line of illustrious partnerships between NASA and the HCII.

Problem Space: Space Problems

NASA's prompt was to reimagine the way that astronauts perform scheduled procedures under unprecedented new conditions, with an emphasis on crewmember autonomy. After a thorough literature review, our first stop was the Johnson Space Center, where astronauts are trained and mission control keeps watch over the ISS.

The Next Best Thing

Apparently, it's really hard to talk to astronauts, even at NASA. Undeterred, we interviewed NASA personnel and professionals in analagous domains (such as surgery and stage management) as we strove to understand procedure execution and support.

Envisioning the Future of the Future

Synthesizing our research, we concluded the research phase of the project by generating four key insights, each consisting of findings, recommendations, and a vision for implementation.

Space: Improvised

Soon after arriving at NASA Ames, we launched into several rounds of prototyping, iterative design, and testing. Both the prototype and the test methodology improved in quality and complexity, culminating in using a functional iPad app to follow actual NASA procedures for testing soil PH and replacing air filters.

Framing the Solution

Our finished software focused on both flexible schedule browsing (the Home View) and procedure viewing (The Activity View). While designing, we tried to strike a balance between legibility and NASA’s love for data-dense displays.

The Mobile Assistant for Task Execution (MATE)

MATE emphasis crew member autonomy throughout training and execution, allowing them to perform tasks in the order they desire, browse procedures in an easy-to-follow format, and communicate via chat with ground crew and rich media note-taking.

January - August 2012

NASA Ames Research Center

Samia Ahmed
Diana Chen
Kevin McMillin
Esten Hurtle


Client Communication
Formal Presentation Skills
Contextual Inquiry
Guerilla Interviews
Usability Test Design

Team Kairos Project Site
Research Summary Report
Final Report