Project Type

Solo project, MFA Thesis

My Role

Concept development, UX/UI design, Interaction design, Motion Design


12 months


Adobe Illustrator, XD, After Effects, Photoshop, Figma


Create a system that can give victims real-time directions to help them escape from fire and increase their chances of survival.

The Problem

Fires in buildings can spread quickly and fill up space with smoke, making it difficult to see and breathe. In these situations, escaping recklessly is dangerous for victims because of a lack of direction and warnings about obstacles and hazards.

The Solution

An interactive AR (Augmented Reality) system that provides instant information of emergency situation and instruction of what people should do to increase the chance of survival.


Increase Chances of Survival

A real-time, visually guided escape system that tells victims what to do in dangerous situations, helping them to stay safe and escape from dangers.

Preparing For the Unpredictable

ARES automatically senses the victim's surroundings, updating directions to take into account any new or emerging dangers.


Follow the Guidance

Visual overlays help victims be aware of their surroundings and follow the correct path to safety, even in low-visibility situations like smoke and haze.

The Challenge

Impact of Fire

In 2017, there were more than 1.3 million fires, causing over 3,000 deaths and 14,000 injuries.

My focus is on both non-residential and residential building fires, which often have numerous victims inside who have difficulty escaping.

In 2017, there were an estimated 110,000+ non-residential fires and 370,000+ residential fires.


Kyoto Animation Fire

In 2019, a fire started at an animation studio in Kyoto, Japan when a man ignited a flammable liquid. At least 33 people were killed in the accident.

The fire tore through the buildings quickly not only because it was fueled by petrol, but also because it was funneled up a spiral staircase in which there were no emergency sprinklers installed.




“Bodies were found piled up on a staircase leading up to the roof from the third floor.”
 - Reuters

 “The door had been closed but not locked when firefighters arrived at the studio for rescue operations.”
 - Kyoto Fire Department

What Went Wrong?

Would the victims have had a higher chance of survival if they had stayed in their room and closed the door instead?


Current Solution

Exit signs help show where escape routes are located, but they don't provide any information about the current situation to victims. Without guidance, victims don't know the optimal route to take.


How Does ARES Work

ARES is an intelligent system that gathers information from fire, smoke detectors, and cameras in buildings, using that to provide optimal escape instructions to users.


The Hardware

ARES is designed for futuristic contact lenses or glasses that support interactive augmented reality. Users can interact with the system, receive real-time updates on emergency systems, and get instructions of what they should do to increase their chances of survival and escape.


Supporting Technologies


Augmented Reality


Home security system


Artificial intelligence


Hand gesture recognition




Positioning Systems






ARES focuses on three different scenarios:



Wait for Help


Provide Aid


01. Escape

In most cases, the best thing to do in a fire is to leave the building as quickly as possible. ARES analyzes the current situation and instantly provides the best escape route to the user.

Emergency Notifications

ARES instantly detects fires using fire and smoke detectors, notifies the user, and gives instructions for how to best approach the situation.

Real-time alerts and emergency plan help to give the user guidance and a sense of control. Users will be able to follow instructions that increase their chances of survival, avoiding panic and wrong decisions.

Gesture-Based Interactions

Users use hand gestures to interact with the ARES system. Different gestures allow users to select different options or view a real-time map.

Real-Time Map

ARES includes a real-time map that shows the position of the user, the location of the fire, and the safest escape route.

Oftentimes in a fire, victims do not know exactly where they are in relation to the fire, causing them to end up taking the wrong path. The real-time map helps users navigate safely out of the building, avoiding the fire and taking the best route to safety.

Guided Route

ARES gives the user clear guidance on where to navigate, using arrows as well as guidelines to highlight the path to follow.

Since ARES displays directly on top of the user's eye, guiding visuals are always visible and clear, even if smoke has clouded the user's surroundings. Providing visuals towards the bottom of the users' field of vision helps to draw their attention downwards, where smoke is likely to be thinner.

Turn-by-turn Instructions

ARES gives turn-by-turn instructions so that users do not lose their way. Arrows and guidelines show exactly when users need to turn or take an exit.

Clear instructions eliminate the need for decision-making on the user's end. It can be difficult during stressful emergency situations to think clearly and make the correct decisions. By taking the guesswork out of which way to navigate, ARES increases user's chances of escape and survival.


ARES helps guide users downstairs using visuals that help to create a sense of depth and height.

Smoke can make it difficult for user's to see their surroundings. By having clear visual guidance of stairs, ARES helps users be aware of their surroundings and prevents users from tripping or falling.

Obstacle Warnings

ARES helps users to avoid objects that may result in trips and falls, using indicators for barriers to avoid.

Smoke can also make it difficult to see objects on the floor that people may trip over. ARES outlines barriers so that users can avoid them. The transparent design of the obstacle warning allows users to still be able to see what the object is, in case they need to remove it from their pathway.

Exit Sign

ARES clearly marks the exit, letting users know that they have reached their goal.

02. Wait For Help

Depending on the situation, it's sometimes best for victims to stay where they are and wait for help. ARES automatically detects conditions and tells users when they should stay and wait, providing instructions and status updates to keep them informed of the situation.

To Do List (Survival Instructions)

ARES provides information about what users should do in order to maximize their chances of survival while waiting for help to arrive.

Instructions help users to focus on what they can do to survive in their current situation, reducing the chances of victims exiting the room and encountering even more dangerous conditions.

Emergency Response Updates

ARES automatically contacts emergency responders to provide them with the user's location. While users are waiting, a status bar keeps them informed of when help will arrive.

Keeping users updated helps to calm them down and gives them hope and reassurance that help is on the way.

Door Handle: Temperature Detection

ARES automatically detects the temperature of door handles, letting users know whether it is okay to touch or too hot for contact.

Victims often unknowingly open doors and are ambushed by smoke or fire on the other side. With automatic temperature detection, users are made aware of what they will encounter behind the door.

Door Handle: High-Temperature Warning

Temperature detection helps to show when door handles are too hot to open.

Closed doors help to slow the spread of fire and smoke. Temperature detection informs users of hot door handles so that they can avoid burns.

03. Provide Aid

In certain situations, ARES will provide the location of the user's loved ones who may be trapped and need help to escape.

Rescue Loved Ones

ARES will detect if it's safe to find and help the user's loved ones. Users can choose from the options to go on a rescue mission before escaping.

In emergency situations, many victims panic and are unsure of what action they should take. By analyzing the situation and providing safe options to help others, users can rescue any people (or animals) that are in danger without jeopardizing their own survival.

Real-Time Location

ARES provides users with the location of their loved one in a real-time map. This helps users to get a sense of what route they will need to take to reach their loved one's position.

In emergency situations with smoke, fire, and loud sounds, it is often difficult to pinpoint where someone might be. By providing real-time locations, ARES removes any uncertainty and enables the user to most efficiently reach their target location.

Gesture-Based Interactions with ARES

The use of hand gestures eliminates the need for additional hardware or devices that could be difficult to handle in an emergency situation. This allows users full use of their hands to navigate obstacles or help support others.

Menu Access

Opening the menu can let users access different functions and see status updates of emergency responders.

Call Out Menu
Close Menu

Menu Selections

Users use gestures to select different options within the menu. The following gestures take into consideration possible limited range of motion in dangerous surroundings. The gestures are recognized by ARES even if they are small in scale.

Select Right Option
Select Left Option
Select Bottom Option

Design Process


The remainder of this page details the exploration of technologies with ARES prototypes as well as implementation and process work.

Software used to create ARES

After Effects, Figma, Premiere Pro, Illustrator, Photoshop, Media Encoder

Current Solution Analysis

Emergency Alert Systems

Current solutions to emergency alert systems offer initial notifications but lack detailed instructions and guidance on what to do in the event of a fire.

01 Home Security System Alerts

Many home security systems have the ability to send an alert notification when an unusual event is detected.

Main Advantage

Users can receive the alerts in a timely manner from the central monitoring system. 

Main Disadvantage

Lacks clear instructions on what action users should take next.


Event Feed from Google Home App

Fire alarm switch

Fire Alarm System on Wall

02 Fire Detection System

A system that uses heat and smoke sensors to detect fires. The system often uses a combination of sounds and lights to signal an alarm.

Main Advantage

A reliable system that can quickly detect smoke or fires.

Main Disadvantage

Lacks information on location of the fire, severity of the situation, as well as any guidance on where users can find an exit.

Emergency Navigation

Current solutions make use of physical signs or maps to indicate where exits are. Can be dangerous and misleading if victims are unaware of their surroundings and take a wrong path.

01 Emergency Signs

Emergency signs make it easy to react with speed and effectiveness when a fire occurs.

Main Advantage

Emergency signs are visible at all times and give users a direct route to leave the premise

Main Disadvantage

Signs do not take into account real-time information and could potentially lead users to unsafe areas. High location of the signs can cause them to obscured by smoke.


Emergency Exit Sign on Ceiling


Evacuation Map on Wall

02 Evacuation Map

Physical map of the floor plan that shows possible evacuation routes and exit locations.


Help users to learn the building structure and exits direction.


It does not show where the hazard is to prevent users to go the wrong way.


In order to find the optimal path to safely escape from fires, an emergency system should:

- Provide clear instructions and guidance on where and how to proceed
- Take into account real-time updates like fire and smoke location
- Direct users' visual focus towards the ground for better visibility in case of smoke

Augmented Reality Devices Analysis

Augmented reality is an interactive experience that lets people see digital content over real-life scenes. Various technologies and devices can be utilized for augmented reality experiences.

01 Head Up Display (HUD)

Head-up displays can project text and visuals onto glass or windshields and are common in many passenger cars nowadays. Companies like Mercedes Benz have begun to integrate augmented reality into their HUDs to provide navigation directions overlays.


HUD technology allows users to view projected information and the real-world at the same time. However, they are generally bulky and non-portable.


2021 Mercedes S-Class Augmented Reality HUD


Holographic Display Machine

02 Holographic Displays

A Holographic Display uses light diffraction to create a virtual three-dimensional form of objects in real space. 


Does not require any additional gear to view objects projected using holographic display technology. However, this technology is currently unable to interact with and take into account the environment.

03 Smart Phone

Overlays visuals on a smartphone's camera feed to show visual and audio content in the context of the real-world.


Smartphones provide a convenient and easily accessible way to experience AR. However, focusing on a smartphone screen can narrow users' field of vision and distract them from their current surroundings. This can be dangerous in everyday situations and especially during emergency situations.


Google Maps AR Navigation


Mojo Vision’s Smart Contact Lens

04 Smart Glasses & Contact Lens

A smart class or contact lens is a wearable device that blends visuals and information with what the wearer sees in the real-world.


Smart glasses and contact lens can blend the real-world with the digital world without requiring the user to focus on a small screen. In the case of contact lenses, users would need to rely on voice commands to control the system.


Taking into account the positives and negatives of different AR technologies, I decided to design an interactive system for smart glasses and contact lenses. This technology allows users to see both the digital world and the real-world without limiting their field of vision. Smart glasses and contact lens also eliminate the need for carrying around additional hardware that would slow users down in emergency situations.

Design Iterations

Route Design

Phase 1

The route design serves an important role in ARES, which is to make users follow the path. I started from the shape of the dot, which was inspired by the game "Pac Man".


Phase 2

In order to create a sense of direction, I began to explore different triangle shapes. 

Final Design

The objective of the design is to make users not only follow the escape path without hesitation but also urge them to increase the pace.


Notification UI

Phase 1

The notification is the first thing that will appear when a fire occurs. The initial design is for the Smartphone interface.


Phase 2

I started to explore the UI for smart glasses/ contact lenses. I want to make sure it shows all the necessary information without overwhelming users.

Final Design

The key objective of the notification design is to let users grasp the situation as quickly as possible.


Direction Sign

Phase 1

Started by making signs with boards, it was inspired by traffic signs on road.


Phase 2

Design exploration to find out the sign that can draw users' attention and makes them follow the correct direction without a second thought.

Final Design

Removed the orange box in order to keep users' attention on the arrow. It helps users follow the correct direction without a second thought.


Hazard Detection

Phase 1

Exploration design of Hazard Detection signs to help users to identify hazard objects, like a door handle or obstacle,  by using colors to prevent potential risk.


Final Design

Adding box in design to help the user to distinguish hazard objects.

Augmented Reality UI

Phase 1

Started from AR UI for smartphone and exploring the UI of the ARES system.


Phase 2

The exploration was to find a UI layout that is intuitive and not overwhelm the user.

Final Phase



Phase 1

The goal of the map design is to help the users quickly learn where they are, the direction they are going and where the fire occurs. The design exploration of how to make the map looks simple yet enough details.



Final Phase

Color Psychology

In all the elements, the color was taken into careful consideration and used in different ways to draw attention and give warnings while also reassuring users and helping them to stay calm in disaster situations.


Orange is often used to draw attention, such as in traffic signs and advertising.

In use: Notification, menu, Direction signs, and hazard warning signs.



The eye is most sensitive to green color. Green is thought to relieve stress and help calm.

In use: Path guideline, door handle detection, map, exit sign, and emergency response update.



Yellow is energetic. It creates a sense of excitement or energy.

In use: Arrow and stair navigation



Red produces the strongest emotions of any color. It can grab people's attention instantly and it's often used to warn people of impending danger.

In use: Door-handle high-temperature warning and obstacle warnings


ARES is an emergency using the augmented reality interface to help users to increase the chance of survival when facing critical situations.