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Calico is a mobile app for kitten owners to remotely play with their kittens by offering an app controlled wifi smart cat toy. This project was inspired by family and friends that struggled with raising a kitten. Calico provides a way for busy kitten owners to feel confident that their pet is getting enough play time by providing playtime sessions, playtime recommendations, and a playtime activity tracker.


Nov. 27 - Dec.4 2019 (1 week sprint)


Allison (myself)


Figma, Cinema 4D, Adobe Dimension, Illustrator, Invision


How might I help kitten owners feel confident in raising a kitten?

Kitten owners feel stressed about fitting playtime into their busy schedules.


Calico, a tool that helps kitten owners monitor kitten growth and playtime 

Calico allows users to fit playtime into their busy schedules through an app controlle smart toy.

Remotely play with your kitten

Tap to signal a playtime session to your kitten. Playtime will start if the kitten makes contact with the toy, or try again later if your kitten ignores the toy.

See how much playtime is needed for your kitten

View daily and weekly playtime recommendations based on how your kitten is growing.

So, how did I get here?

Design Process


Interview users to find pain points

Define the user


Create several sketches and potential solutions

Competitive analysis


Design low-fi wireframes 

Test & test again


Future state


What makes raising a kitten so hard?

To start my initial research, I sent out a survey targeting young adult kitten owners. I wanted to understand why raising a kitten is a struggle for many people. I conducted several in-person interviews and sent out an online survey. Some of the questions included:

1. What are your concerns about raising a kitten?

2. How have you prepared for raising a kitten?

3. What has been the most challenging part of raising a kitten?

4. What tools are you currently using to play and train your kitten?

5. How has raising a kitten affected your life?

"With school, its so hard to make time to play with him enough so he's tired when I want to sleep"

- interviewed user

Who is my user and what do they need?

Meet Syd, the owner of a 3 month old kitten. Syd feels worried about making sure her kitten is getting enough playtime, and needs a way to ensure he is getting enough despite her busy schedule.

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Kitten owners feel stressed about getting enough playtime in with their busy schedules, and knowing how much playtime is needed.

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Kitten owners are often away from home for long hours.

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While they are away from home, owners feel stressed about getting playtime in.

Research synthesis

After researching, I synthesized the information by doing some affinity diagramming. I found 8 common pain points and decided to focus on the top 3 for the scope of my design. I was then able to determine the primary features I wanted to included based on the user needs. 

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How can I provide a way for users to initiate and monitor kitten activity while they are at school, work, etc. ? 


My goal was to build a solution that allows kitten owners to fit playtime in while they are away from home and feel confident about raising their kitten.

Competitive analysis

For inspiration, I looked at analogous solutions that center around home security. I decided to explore this realm because of the ways in which users remotely interact and monitor their homes with these devices. One solution that most inspired me was the August Lock, a wifi smart lock that allows users to remotely lock and unlock their door through an app using wifi. 

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Final solution: An app that allows owners to remotely play with their kitten through a smart, wifi enabled toy and provides acitivty recommendations and data.

User journey flow

I made a user flow to help me understand each touch point- at home for the kitten and remotely for the user.

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I started sketching ideas for how the user would initiate a playtime session and how they would view recommended playtime, and enter kitten weight data.


Toy design

I chose a sphere for my toy, because it stays in motion when taped and provides the most durability. I made my first model in C4D, then 3D printed the final prototype. A wifi smart chip would then be placed in the sphere to respond to actions from the Calico mobile app. 

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Low fidelity wireframe

From my sketches, I narrowed down to the minimum viable product by repeatedly checking back with my primary features and validating my concepts with some of my previous research interviewees.

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Start playtime

Edit kitten weight

Playtime accepted

playtime rejected





Growth data

User test

I tested my low fidelity wireframes with new kitten owners to see if the user journey and flow made sense before moving into the high fidelity design stage. 

I made a low fidelity prototype on Invision and gave users three tasks:

  1. start playtime session 

  2. see how much playtime is recommended 

  3. see how much playtime has been done over the week

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Based on the feedback, I made some changes to the language, interactions, and structure of my design. Some of the main changes included:



  • "Connect" with pet while not at home

  • Recommendations for playtime

  • Recommendations based on kitten weight

  • A way to see when most recent playtime was

  • Visuals to show activity trends in playtime

UI design

I wanted a clean and playful look to my design that delights users. 

- interviewed user

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Final Outcome


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Next Steps

I love the thrill of a design sprint! In the future, I would like to work with an engineer and be able to fully build out the smart wifi toy. This project taught me the importance of learning to design in time constraints and conducting competitive analysis- I would not have thought in the beginning that the August Lock would be such an inspiration to me for this design.

Some future directions I hope to take for this app:

  • Conduct another user test with the final prototype

  • Add a feature to include multiple kittens

  • Consider expanding to other pets 

  • Include sound noises and smells to the toy to make it more stimulating