Wichita State students win national competition with virtual reality, acne-fighting mask

The Wichita State University Innovation Campus.
The Wichita State University Innovation Campus. File photo

Students in the Master of Innovation Design program at Wichita State won a national Johnson & Johnson Innovation challenge, the university announced Thursday.

The team was awarded a $10,000 prize and future internship opportunities with Johnson & Johnson.

Kristyn Smith, Maggie Koops, James Balman, Jared Goering, Resha Parajuli, Spencer Steinert and Max Hinman worked on the national innovation competition.

The challenge to redesign the user experience of Neutrogena’s Acne Light Therapy mask began in Doug Stucky’s Design Thinking class in fall 2017.

The mask emits both red and blue light simultaneously to target inflammation and bacteria, two main causes of acne, according to Johnson & Johnson Innovation.

Smith said students took on the challenge as their final project for the second half of the semester, spending their time doing design thinking exercises and brainstorming different ways to make the mask better.

“It was a very open-ended project,” Smith said. “They didn’t really give us certain perimeters and we didn’t have a set to-do list, it was just, “‘What can we do to make this better?’”

Smith said after the students finished and pitched the idea for their final project last fall, they found out their team was moving on to the next part of the competition.

Koops said a lot of Master of Innovation Design education is done outside of the classroom.

“We strive to work with the community for real world experiences and work with the community resources,” Koops said.

In January, the team had a video conference midterm review with Johnson & Johnson executives to pitch their product.

“It was really great because they gave us feedback on things we actually cut from the first part of the presentation, and it turned out they love that stuff,” Smith said.

Smith said Master of Innovation Design students that weren’t a part of the competition helped give feedback on the different aspects of the product.

In June, Johnson & Johnson flew the top three teams to New Orleans to pitch their innovation ideas.

Their final product was a virtual reality-enabled light therapy facial mask with an accompanying mobile app.

Koops said the app allows users to experience the virtual reality aspect of the mask, with views including beaches or mountains, and it tracks how much people are using the mask to avoid overuse.

“The whole idea was that it would turn into an experience, where the person could relax while helping with acne too,” Koops said. “We also added a lotion so they could smell the beach that they were looking at or the mountain scene.”

In the end Koops said the team created a “journey to better skin.”

Koops said Master of Innovation Design students are a diverse group, not only culturally, but different in their educational backgrounds.

“We have engineering, design, tech, even some people straight out of high school joined us in our group,” Koops said. “Each student then brings a key component to our group to make this a really good team. Because of our diverse backgrounds, we do also a lot of learning from each other.”

Smith said the challenge was a great experience and allowed team members to “flex their skills” on things that, in a traditional school setting, they weren’t able to.

The Master of Innovation Design program was created in 2016.

While this team’s competition is over, Smith said, another team of Master of Innovation Design students was selected as one of three teams to continue on to the Red Bull Launch Institute.

Cy5 is an interdisciplinary mix of students from the Master of Innovation Design program and engineering departments.

The group will work on the same project at the Red Bull Launch Institute that landed them in fourth place in the 2018 Shocker New Venture competition.