How might we help households stay prepared for times of crisis?


Physical computing, UX design, product design and fabrication


Readi serves as a smart home appliance, giving you time and weather information, as well as acting as a bluetooth speaker. In times of crisis, flip it over, and it becomes a crisis communication dashboard, with a walkie talkie channel and a radio. This was a physical computing project that I completed along with my classmates David and Elushika. We asked ourselves why households often find themselves unprepared in times of emergency. Readi came out of our desire to create a way for disaster-preparation to be engrained in a household's everyday routine.


6 weeks


Played a major role in coding and building the device.


David Al-Ibrahim, Elushika Weerakoon


The Problem

Households often find themselves unprepared in times of crisis.

Our focus on emergency scenarios emerged out of Elushika's personal experience with Hurricane Katrina, having been a resident of New Orleans when the hurricane happened.

We often only realize in the midst of an emergency that we lack the necessary equipment to communicate with help and to receive alerts. This type of equipment is so important to our survival, and yet it is rare to find a household that might invest in them in times of non-crisis. This problem is especially pressing for the households that have difficulty coping in times of emergency, such as elderly residents, or individuals who are immobile.

We asked ourselves, is there a better way to integrate crisis preparation into our daily lives, by having crisis features be part and parcel of the same appliances that play a large role in our daily routines?

The Process

Readi was the result of a highly-iterative process with multiple prototypes.

We first addressed the non-crisis side by thinking about what types of information we wanted to have at a glance. Our first direction was a cube (nicknamed Cubit) which would switch modes depending on its orientation.

Cubit had 5 modes: time, temperature, lamp, disco, and off modes. When oriented on a different face, Cubit would activate the mode associated with the face facing upwards. This was achieved through careful coordination of the input sensors (ambient light, sound, accelerometer), other information inputs (wifi connection for weather and time info), and the light and display outputs.

The next step was to integrate the crisis-ready features.

After exploring all the information we could combine within a go-to device, we put aside everything we did and considered: how can we integrate the crisis-ready features into a regular home appliance. Our process involved explore numerous forms through paper prototyping, as well as discussions around what features are necessary in a crisis. Once decided, we got to work building the necessary features.

A few things were key to our design decision making. One, we wanted it to be clear which face was the crisis face, and what functions were available. We settled on a red dashboard at the base of the lamp, that was activated when flipped over.

We also wanted to ensure that in crisis mode, the device's non-crisis features did not detract from the crisis features. We engineered the device so that all non-crisis features would be switched off when flipped over, allowing the user to focus on communication and alerts.

The Result

Readi is a smart home appliance imbued with crisis-readiness.