Wing: the mobile spirometer

There are 25 million people in the USA with asthma and asthma attacks killed 3200 people in 2007. The Wing team built a handheld spirometer which helps users understand and manage their condition.

My design consultancy was tasked with designing the accompanying iOS app for Wing. As UX Researcher, I led stakeholder workshops, user research and research analysis.

Stakeholder workshops

We kicked off the project with a stakeholder workshop in St Louis with the Wing team. We needed to identify the project’s aims and explore the assumptions which had been made so far.

We used a number of Gamestorming exercises to identify what these assumptions were, and which, if wrong, were the most dangerous to the project’s success. For instance, we thought we knew where and when Wing was most likely to be used in the home. But if our assumption was incorrect we’d be designing for the wrong context of use.

These assumptions then went on to help shape our research plans by allowing us to create a list of research questions to answer.

User research

I conducted a series of remote user interviews to discover the needs of Wing’s users and validate our assumptions. We identified early that fitting Wing into people’s existing habits was essential if it was going to be a success.

Wing required the user to do a lung test every morning and evening, that’s a big ask for busy parents. We spoke to 12 parents from a range of backgrounds and amongst other things, asked them about the family’s morning and evening routines. A proven way to form a new habit is to ‘piggy back’ onto an existing one, so we were keen to identify what habits were already present.

We learnt that dispensing morning medications was a common habit amongst parents. We heard that this largely took place in the kitchen, and as it happened around breakfast, there would be additional time available to conduct Wing tests. Knowing this, we could design with the context of use in mind e.g. there would probably be multiple children using Wing in short succession.

Research analysis

After collecting so much research we had a huge amount of data to go through. We wanted to work with the client transparently, so used a web based virtual whiteboard. We reviewed each interview and pulled out meaningful insights. These were then placed in rough but related groups using the Affinity Mapping exercise.

The aim of research analysis is to turn observations into tangible design recommendations. From each observations we generated a related insight. And from these insights we produced a design mandate. Each mandate was a tangible, meaningful statement which would directly effect the design.

The benefit of working like this, instead of a traditional post-it based method, was that we could clearly see the history of each mandate and discuss them with our remote client.

Research output

To make the research results more relateable for the team, we produced a set of 4 personas. We referred back to these throughout the project, often in very specific ways.

For instance, when we were designing the onboarding journey, we kept in mind the different requirements a young single adult would have compared to a parent of 2 kids with asthma.


Wing was launched with an Indigogo campaign in November 2015 and raised $55k. In January 2016, the co-founders raised a further $450k from a group of investors. This, along with their original 2014 investment of $1.4m, allowed them to pursue for FDA approval and begin working towards their web and Android platforms.