Maeve is a just-in-time adaptive intervention mirror designed to help people work through eating disorder recovery. Maeve helps to disrupt negative behaviors in moments of need, and work to make therapy more effective and meaningful. Our mission is to flip a common trigger, the mirror, into a healing tool.


Aug 2021 -May 2022


Rachel Cole
Zining Liang
Abby Stein

My Role

User Researcher
UX/UI Designer
Brand Designer


How might we support someone during their eating disorder recovery journey?


Current Space

1 in ten
Americans will have an eating disorder in their lifetime
Every hour
someone dies as a direct result of an eating disorder in the us
$65 billion
annual economic cost to the united states
Report by the Strategic Training Initiative for the Prevention of Eating Disorders, Academy for Eating Disorders and Deloitte Access Economics, 2020

stakeholder map


interviewes with therapists, dietitians, + people in recovery
early concept tests with therapists, dietitians, + people in recovery
stories gathered from ed patients in recovery

current solutions + hacks

Currently the space has a lot of formal and informal solutions. These range from CBT apps to recommending someone cross out nutrition labels in their home.

Overall, Eating Disorder Recovery is a space with an almost shockingly little amount of innovation.

Even though the number of Eating Disorder admissions has increased by 40% in the last 2 years alone, very few products have come to the market specifically designed to help people in eating disorder Recovery.


Design a tool that helps with body image issues through
harm reduction, proactive engagement, and goal reinforcement.

Design criteria


Recovery focused without being food obsessed.
Grounded in current treatment methods.
Designed for eating disorder recovery and not geared towards weight loss.
Safe and effective.
Designed for patients in their active recovery phase.

co-design sessions

We worked with therapists to find out what kind of tools (realistic or magical) they wish their patients could have.


Taking what we learned from our research and co-design sessions, we developed some potential solutions.

focus area

Then we took these ideas back to the therapists and asked which ones they would love to see developed further. A common theme amongst all of the therapists was a larger emphasis on the emotional healing that someone has to do on their own. Specifically challenges with body image appear in two ways:
body checking
fixating on one's appearance in the mirror
body avoidance
avoiding appearance in mirrors - viewing one's reflection may trigger mood changes or ed behaviors.

How might we help people work through body checking or body avoidance by introducing treatment strategies at the exact moment someone needs to use them, and support them at all stages of their journey?

onboarding + process

An onboarding assessment kicks
off the experience, with our algorithm setting either the body checking or avoidance workflow.

Progress can be tracked
(or opted out of)
on the home dashboard

avoidance workflow

This workflow is for someone who avoids the mirror all or most of the time. It simulates exposure therapy that can be done in the safety of their own home.

At rest, the mirror is fogged and displays their custom affirmations.
On a programmed cadence, Maeve sends a notification to one’s phone indicating that it’s activity time.
Maeve unfogs for 3 minutes and prompts a reflective exercise while unfogged.
After the timer is up, Maeve fogs.

Body Checking workflow

This workflow is for someone who struggles with body checking, this will help them by causing a disruption and redirecting their attention.

At rest, the mirror is unfogged and displays their custom affirmations.

If someone stands in front of the mirror for longer than 2 minutes, the mirror fogs.
They then receive a notification on their phone and are prompted to complete an exercise. After the exercise is completed, Maeve unfogs.

other features

Journal responses can also be shared with one's therapist (if opted into).
Fogging settings can be adjusted ad-hoc, with a weekly check-in activity also re-calibrating the workflow.


We designed Maeve for those in active treatment; however, it can be used during all phases of recovery.

Uses Maeve as a helping hand because they can't access or don't need formal treatment
Therapist recommends Maeve to make their sessions more effective and helpful when they are home
90% of the time, Maeve is a regular mirror, but for those bad days, it's there for support.


We had 2 major components of Maeve to prototype - the mirror and the app. We developed a prototyping strategy to get feedback as quickly as possible, including mini-prototypes to test different assumptions.


We tested Maeve in-home with someone in ED Recovery for 72 hours. And also tested in shorter sessions with 8 dietitians, therapists, and people in recovery.

next steps + takeaways

I was able to take Maeve through the Pennovation Accelerator this summer and dive a little deeper into what the business side of this product could look like. We would love to continue working on this project because we know how much this could help people and have a positive impact in the world.

It was also an incredible experience to work in both the physical and digital space and really collaborate with engineers and designers to create a fully working prototype.

©2023 All Rights Reserved Sarah Nowell