Vibration Patterns


Spire Vibration Patterns

Using haptic feedback to differentiate between notification types.



Spire Stone vibrates to notify users of various changes in their health. However, the vibration pattern for each of these notifications is the same, requiring the user to take out their phone to learn what's happening.



Create vibration patterns for Spire Stone that aid in differentiating between different notifications.



I was the sole user experience designer on the project and led user testing for this feature. I worked with our industrial designer and firmware engineer to create new concepts and prepare them for testing.



Industrial Designer
Firmware Engineer


What I Learned

Creating and testing these vibration patterns taught me how to apply UX methods outside of software projects by introducing a new set of requirements and challenges.

We started simple, created many divergent directions, drafted a testing methodology, and iterated quickly between tests.

These UX staples allowed us to quickly narrow down to patterns that were understandable, noticeable, and comfortable.



Vibration patterns were necessary for Spire so that a user could differentiate between notifications without needing to take out their phone.

Requirements for vibration patterns:

  1. Pleasant
  2. Noticeable
  3. Easy to understand
  4. Easy to differentiate between one pattern and another
  5. Duration of 3 seconds or less

We brought people into the office to test vibration patterns on an actual Spire device. In order to emulate real-world scenarios, we distracted the participants with a task that both required their attention and stressed them out a bit. (The task needed to stress them out a little because the Spire device vibrates when you are stressed.)


We user tested in several stages.

  1. Testing patterns for whether they are pleasant or unpleasant. Ruling out unpleasant patterns.
  2. Testing for pattern recall. How identifiable and memorable are patterns? Ruling out patterns that are hard to identify.
  3. Randomly pairing the remaining patterns to see which would be easy to differentiate if implemented together.

After 5-6 iterations and rounds of user testing, we had a set of three patterns that were pleasant, noticeable, and differentiable.

Vibration patterns were met with positive response from our users and have since become a favorite user feature.