The world as we know it has changed and with it the way we experience life, social distancing has fast become the new normal. As designers we are in a unique position to help make life better, which is the purpose of this Design Thinking challenge.


As part of an IDEO U design challenge I looked at how families had adjusted to a new normal overnight because of the coronavirus and social distancing. 

My case study was a family with an active social life. Maya, the mother of the family was the primary interviewee, and for her the greatest challenge was finding a way to be with family and friends by replacing missed activities.

“Every day of the week feels the same. Is it Tuesday or Saturday? We miss having trips to look forward too and activities to mark our weekends.” 

– Maya

Using ‘how might we’ to frame the problem I looked at how we might: 



The one thing that stood out was cancelled plans. 

Why might this be happening? 

Social distancing means that group events can no longer take place, people can’t leave their homes so it is increasingly difficult to plan and have activities to look forward to. 

This inspires me to think about solutions that include virtual living.



Common objects or places in a neighborhood + favorite holiday traditions = idea

How it’s done: on a sticky note write down a few common places in your neighbourhood. On separate pieces of paper write down some of your favourite thing to do on holiday. Then randomly pair first batch of ideas with the second and use that ‘mash-up’ to generate a solution. Then you pick the idea you think is most viable.

Note: this exercise encourages lateral thinking.


Bus Station + Socialising. 

Easiest to Make (Minimum Viable Product)

Using an inexpensive Virtual Reality (VR) headset and mobile phone. The screen is split into 3 sections, a left and right panel houses all the bus passengers and the middle is the navigation and viewer. So it will simulate being on a bus with a group of your friends touring, you’ll get off the bus at certain points, etc.

Most Delightful

The bus experience is gamified, with a VR headset. While you are touring you have a list of things you need to convince your fellow passengers to go and see and a list of things you need to collect. It will mimic all the fun family holiday experiences.

Image: Low fidelity sketch of the VR viewer with the smartphone view of the MVP version of the app that will be displayed inside a VR viewer.

The pitch with a call to action

You had an awesome holiday planned with friends and family and then – Coronavirus!

But what if I told you that you could still take that summer trip to Spain and see the Sagrada Família with your family and friends. 

No passport control, 

No crappy long flights with screaming babies,

No visa required!

Buy your virtual bus pass here and let the adventure begin.

This challenge was about generating ideas by using Design Thinking and user observation to develop a solution. The next step would be to build a low-fidelity prototype and pitch it to Maya and her family. 

This case study was done as part of a course I completed in Design Thinking with IDEO U. 


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