Product Designer

Elly Drone




The project

Elly Drone is an research project seeking to analyse and capture movement in sports. The project stands out through its innovative design and features.

Elly is a flying robotic coach and a communication tool that allows athletes to perfect their movements by analysing, tracking and sharing their performance.


Brief and conceptual framework

How to improve performance through visual analysis?


The challenge:

Create a product that will enable extreme athletes to perfect their performance. 

The outcome:

An automated robotic drone coach that offers steady film and feedback to end users through video analysis.

The following steps were taken in the design process 

1 - A research phase to interview users and understand their needs. I also collaborated with different partners to co-develop various product specifications. 

2 - An analysis phase to simulate different use case scenarios of the drone. 

3 - An ideation phase consisting of brainstorming, sketching and developing  the actual drone, its remote control and UI interface.

4 - In the final phase, I explored available technologies that would suit the brief and developed scenario. I have worked in close collaboration with established partners in robotics in order to make the best viable product.


1 - Research

Mapping the sport environment


The first step taken in the research phase was to map out all the different extreme sports that could fit the brief, and to subsequently focus on a specific group of sports.


I then targeted these end-users by interviewing them in order to get an insight on their sports routine and the different challenges they face.


Insight on final users


Studying, observing and interacting with end-users was a crucial part of the design strategy of this project.

To understand the mental model of users and how to bring improvements, I went in the field and met people practicing specific sports: longboarding, skateboarding, cycling, snowboarding and skiing.

Two key design elements that crystallised from this process were :

- Video stabilisation to be able to share smooth footage with their community (i.e. social media, coach, peers)

- The ability to provide feedback to the user through movement analysis

This is how the idea of creating on an entirely new type of drone emerged.

Throughout the research phase of this project, I built strategic partnerships with relevant companies who supported me in undertaking this project.



2 - Analysis

Analysis of the user experience


The first element that emerged from the research analysis was the idea of an autonomous drone. In collaboration with the project partners, a remote control that could be integrated into a watchstrap was designed. 

This watchstrap would be connected to the drone wirelessly and would work through gesture control. 

We then defined the gestures themselves with end-users and a technical team to create a product that would be ergonomic, user-friendly and technologically viable



Giving form to the idea


Next, the aesthetic aspect of the product was designed. For that, a series of sketches was made, illustrating different use scenarios and highlighting how the produt would function and interact with its user.

The idea was to create a shape that would make the filming experience fun.  A shape resembling a Frisbee was thought of - a shape associated with playfulness, and that would indicate that you can actually throw it in the air to make it fly.

Complementary to this, a remote control was designed that would free the users from having to hold anything in their hands. This is how we went from a glove shape to an open watchstrap band that could unfold. 

This design was inspired by relay races where runners pass on a baton. In use scenarios, this was translated as the passing on of the designed remote control to create a multi-user experience.



Design for manufacturing


This is how Elly Drone was born - the drone that tracks and analyses extreme athletes’ movements to help them improve their performance.


In order to create a fully integrated service, I additionally designed Elly’s user interface. Elly is composed of: 

- A drone operating an on-board camera. 

- A remote control in the shape of a wristband that is wirelessly connected to the drone, and acts as a reference point that is tracked by the camera. 

- A smart-phone application allowing users to analyse their movements by viewing personal footage and to share short clips with their community.