3D PopTarts

  • Role Product Designer
  • Class Multi Disciplinary Project (Link)
  • Location University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
  • Skills Stakeholder Interviews, Literature Review, User centred Design Process, Presentation
  • Year Sep 2017 - Ongoing


In this Multidisciplinary design project, our team must deliver a complete working system to personalize the face of a Pop-Tart by creating an Android Mobile App user interface integrated to modified 3D food printer apart from developing an optimal “frosting” material for the system. We need to work together in a truly multidisciplinary manner to deliver the best product possible for the user. The user “drawing” options will need to be balanced with the capability of the print/frosting systems to deliver a physical rendering of the design on the screen. Mechanical design and “frosting” formulation design choices will have significant impact on each other. Several commercial 3D food printers have become available over the past 5 years. Our team has evaluated a range of those available; No working “off the shelf” option exists. We need to modify existing commercial products (printers, extrusion cartridges, etc.) to create their working system through the design, fabrication and integration of unique parts. The capability of the system to print an interesting (tasty) design will depend as much on the “frosting” as the capability of the printer. We have the additional support from various R&D based Engineers and Food Scientists at Battlecreek, Michigan. The Mobile App subteam of which I am a member has the additional support the Pop-Tarts Brand Manager who helped us understand and develop personas.

Project Goals

  • Customer Kit: Develop Persona and Scenario of Use.
  • Deliver an Android App that will allow a “child” and “grandparent” to co‐design the face of a Pop-Tart.


The project is ongoing and is being carried out in the following steps:

  • Understanding Stakeholder Requirements
  • Understanding Brand: Reading Brand diaries and building consensus.
  • Team Brainstorming: We discuss UX, Food Materials and 3D printers.
  • Literature review: On 3D printing and UI guidelines
  • Empathy Mapping and Personas: I have developed 3 personas so far.
  • Storyboarding: different journeys for different personas
  • Wireframing (iterative): On going ...
  • Prototyping (iterative): Next Step
  • Usability Testing: There's going to be no delight without capturing usability issues ...

User Research

I met regularly with with Food Scientist, the Brand Manager and the Product Manager of the Pop-tart brand to understand the intent of the project and who the target audience was.

Competitor Analysis

A number of popular apps in the market for children focus on a user journey akin to a hero's journey seen in most movies and books. Intially it might appear unrelated but users are encouraged to collect points to have progress and explore uncharted areas of the adventurous journey. Also to note was the encouragement given to creative expression of children.

  • Competitor Matrix
  • Points to Progress
  • Guided Cooking
  • Directions and Encouragement
  • An Adventure, a hero's journey!
  • MIT Sketch: Creative Expression


I sketched out some ideas for the app after stakeholder meetings. The next step was to create personas. To better understand our target audience, what they see, hear, feel during the experience, i asked the team to create an empathy map for each section of our target audience. In the next week I asked the team create a story map for each persona.

  • Sketching Ideas
  • Understanding Brand
  • Story Mapping
  • Empathy Map


The young child persona is of someone who started elementary school, is rapidly becoming more independent, likes simple games with rules and outcomes. The old grandparent persona enjoys spending time with grandchildren, did not grow up with digital technology and therefore are Digital Immigrants. The teenager persona is children but not adult driven by ideas and stories, likes simple humor and storylines that respect their maturity.

  • Story Mapping
  • Kid
  • Grandparent
  • Teenager


This is scenario for one of our personas: the young and creative child who wants to explore 3D printing and share her drawings to the Kellogg's online forum.

  • Family visits supermarket
  • Onboarding
  • Explain 3D Printing
  • Profile for interface customization
  • Draw
  • select base
  • select flavor
  • 3D Printing takes time
  • User Entertainment
  • Happy Kid wants to share
  • Family leaves supermarket


To reach a consensus within the multidisciplinary team and with the stakeholders (kellogg's) I made some lo-fidelity wireframes. The next step was to make a clickable prototype and circulate it within the Kellogg's headquarter at Battlecreek, Michigan.


Prototype (1st of many)

I made an invision prototype for the hardware, android team and mentors at Kellogg's. On your right are some screens. After this summer when my team regroups, I will coordinate with the Andorid Programming team and the Mechanical team to implement the application.

Update: We're going to the Ann Arbor Hands on Museum next week to get qualitative data from children. A second round of interviews with target users is going on to iterate the current prototype. Meanwhile the Android programming team is in the process of building the app and is in touch with me regarding logos and other graphic assets.

Our visits to the museum were successful in terms of how many users we observed and the feedback we received.


1. (-) Children thought they had to draw the PopTart on the app.
2. (-) Child wanted to keep/eat their drawing.
3. They wanted to eat the poptart (‘Can I at least lick it’).
4. (+) Printer movement attracted children - there was no attention span issue here at all to our surprise.
5. (-) However, while we were cleaning the printer or waiting for it to work or for whatever reason the printer was not working, they were not happy. Some spent time watching fish in the aquarium.
6. In science/engineering we sometimes fail and try again.
7. (-) Fingers too thick to draw. They never blame the machine, only themselves.
8. (+) Parent’s pushed kids to try it out; One parent had a countdown to remind her children that they have limited time.
9. Eraser not in app.
10. Color used most frequently.
11. Pop tart background in pop-tart should be there… they were drawing it themselves. Check the photographs to see what they drew.
12. Countdown could be used in public spaces.
13. (+) Good educational experience for children.