Spin - A smart ring to present easily!

A case study on finding an accessible way to present using participatory design


For a course project on inclusive design, the team paired with a participant having muscular dystrophy who uses a wheelchair to get around in her day-to-day life. The partcipant has trouble presenting at talks autonomously, so we worked with her to find a solution that would allow her to become independant.

The outcome of the project was a smart ring that uses minuscule gestures to control the presentation deck and an accompanying google slide extension to make it accessible independant of any platform.




Oct, 2018 - Dec, 2018 (8 weeks)


Dawson Hoppes, Maitreyi Shah, Naishi Jain

The Problem

The introductory conversation with the participant brought out some key activities in her day-to-day life that she had troubles carrying out. The most important one to her was not being able to present at talks autonomously.

The participant is constantly invited to speak about her achievements as an entrepreneur at different events. In that regard, she has a hard time navigating the infrastructure at the location and has to seek the assistance in advance to set up the presentation and control slides during the talk.

Why participatory design?

The course’s objective was to get an understanding of participatory design by designing for and with the participant and getting the participant truly involved in the ideation and design process.

It ties in with the values of inclusive design by letting the participant be a team player instead of a third party the design is being handed off to.

About the participant

An engineer by background, Maitri is an entrepreneur and CEO of the startup Mind Assets. As a person with congenital muscular dystrophy she uses her wheelchair to overcome her disability. She has faced physical challenges due to lack of accessibility standards across public infrastructure and universities, and works hard to fight against the stereotype that work in the disability space has to be charitable.

Her entrepreneurship, aimed at engaging and empowering persons with disabilities, has helped her gain valuable social currency which she has been using to shift the conversation away from what people with disabilities can’t do, to what they can and have been doing for the world.

If you want to learn more Maitri and her work, check out this medium article written by the YCenter India Entrepreneur Program.

The Process


About the project

Role & Responsibilities

Each individual member was involved in the design session equally. Everyone participated in the ideation and sketching sessions but the final design screens were made by the designers of the team before showing it to the participant for their feedback.

Constraints & Challenges

  • The participant was located in India so all our sessions had to be remote.
  • Since there is a limited number of unpaid canvas tools that let you draw collaboratively, there were some issues in carrying out our collaborative "big paper" sketching session.


We made a four phase project plan that included session protocols for all the design meetings and each section of the session was facilitated by one member of the team (expect the participant). 

Each session protocol had the exact activities with a set time limit and script. Find a sample of the session protocol here.

Ice-breaker Session

To get to know the other team members better everyone created quick storyboards of a typical day in their lives and discussed them briefly.


Once the team was comfortable, we dived into discussion on the participant’s day-to-day challenges and brainstormed a couple of rough design ideas for some of them.

In the below slider you can see different ideas the team came up with to tackle different problems the participant faces w.r.t her office, entrepreuneurship, hobbies etc.

Towards the end of the session, we picked the most interesting problem statement that the participant wanted to focus on and went on to design some mock design concepts to address it.


Co-Design Session

After deciding the problem statement in the initial interview, we sketched 2-3 designs that would solve the chosen problem statement of presenting autonomously.

In the co-design session, we got feedback from the participant on our ideas and realized that we came up with funny hat solutions. So we conducted another sketching session improvising and building on the previous sketches.


After a collective sketching session with the participant, we identfied another idea to tackle the challenge of presenting autonomously. This being a “smart ring” that would sense gestures and map them to interactions with slides.


After the co-design session, our team worked to develop the smart ring interactions. We also sketched out the wireframes for the mobile app connecting the slide and the app as well as a google slides

Final Solution

 In today’s world, everyone strives for autonomy and independence. It is integral for our self-confidence. Being a trail blazer for the people with disabilities, the participant is often invited to deliver speeches about her work and inspirational talks. She faces several challenges that constrain her autonomy. Through Spin we are enabling the participant to achieve her key goals in becoming an autonomous presenter at her talks:

  • Setup slides at the venue autonomously
  • Not being reliant on officials at the venue of the talk to help with changing slides mid-presentation
  • Interact with the audience casually, having them focus on the talk rather than the disability.

Presenting Spin

1. Slide Customization

The Spin slide extensions allows users to:

  • Select “blocks” of content on the slide like images or textboxes
  • Add them to a highlight section either individually or by combining two or more blocks
  • Change order of highlighting user can drag blocks up or down in the list

2. Connecting the Ring

 After connection your ring via bluetooth to your phone, open the Google slides mobile app.

  • After opening the presention, select the play button at the top of the screen
  • Next, select the “Present with Spin” option. This will start the presentation and turn on the ring
  • While presenting you can look at the upcoming highlights on your phone

3. Presenting with the Ring



Participant Feedback

Once we had the interactions showcased in the prototype we sent the participant the figma link to our prototype go through the slide creation process and had her think aloud while interacting with the it. The spin introductory video was also shown to the participant to give them an idea od how the ring interactions would trigger the changes in slides and the overflow of setting up with spin.


This project was interesting in terms of navigating the dynamics of designers and participants during the design sessions. It was hard to find the balance between guiding the participant vs directing them.

What was surprising was that though the design was catered to and made specifically with one user, it turned out to be useful for a much larger target audience. It re-infornces one of the core beliefs of inclusive design that supporting accesibility does not need to be an after-thought but it can be the norm.

Get in touch

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Email: [email protected]
LinkedIn: mahithakalyani
Medium: @mahitha13

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