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Sensor Based Preventive Maintenance System for Multi Family Housing

Project type and Deliverables. Apprenticeship, Proof of Concept, Business Model

Role. UX Designer, Business Strategist

Team and Duration. 4 members (Academic), 2 months

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How might we unlock additional value for our personas to generate recurring revenue above & beyond our current hardware sales + paid access subscription model?


My Contributions: (other than interviews and ideation)

  • Develop mid fidelity and low fidelity designs for the solution.

  • Research and develop business model for the new idea.

  • Evaluation and Testing of low fidelity prototypes.

Problem Statement:

After initial interviews and observations of property managers and residents, the problem statement we chose:

“How might we help property managers better manage properties overseeing multiple units and buildings?”

Quick glance into the solution:

A sensor based preventive maintenance system called “Shield+” that can manage all the essential assets on the property and identify potential issues before they occur that can save millions in post maintenance for property managers.






How it will work:
Sensors and maintenance offered:

Property Manager:

Sensors detect when there is an abnormality in the data, for example a freeze sensors detects temperature dropping and automatically turns the valve on remotely to increase the temperature or send an alert to the property manager who can then take an action accordingly.

For preventive maintenance, the data is sent to Zentra through Wi-Fi from the Hub where further processing is done and data is analyzed for abnormalities and using machine learning algorithm
s maintenance schedules can be decided and sent to the property manager on the Zentra application.


For the resident, the application would have all smart appliances status, details and application guide (like all there is to know about the refrigerator). The residents will have an option to report an issue and before an issue is reported they would have an option to self diagnose for basic minor issues.

“My freezer was not working and turns out something was blocking the vents and I only got to know about it when maintenance worker came after 3 days”

* The solution allows maintenance workers to prioritize on the issues that needs absolute attention.




Property Managers

An issue is detected by the sensor and alert is sent to property manager.



An issue is detected by the sensor and alert is sent to property manager.


Unified Dashboard for property managers

A desktop application to track and manage multiple aspects of a property.

The Business Perspective:
Costs to the company:

The main costs for the company would be the software development and research. But this is not a big hassle as the company has investments in IOT through smart locks and a software application to the residents. They will have to expand their horizon into sensors and preventive maintenance. One other major investment for the company would be the server costs and maintenance and hiring of data engineers for data analysis.

Costs to the Stakeholder:

In perspective of property manager, the initial one time investment for sensors and then a monthly subscription to the services that "Zentra" would provide in terms of preventive maintenance analysis, service of sensors. 

“The average multi-family property spends $2,500 to $5,000 per year on pipe leaks, according to the National Apartment Association.”

In perspective of the residents, the sensors inside home, it can be upto property manager if they want to include this in the rent or provide them as a premium offering. In any way the residents would have to pay a subscription fees, i.e, if property decides they want to pay for the services, it would add to their costs and effectively the rent would be increased, which would mean the resident is still indirectly paying to the subscription.

Revenue for the company:

The main revenue will come in the form of subscriptions every month in addition to their current plans for smart lock infrastructure. Additional revenue streams will be the service, installation fees.

Business model:

The service would be primarily offered as a multi tier subscription model. The stakeholder will pay for the sensors and installation up front and then "Zentra" will charge a monthly premium for the services they chose to provide. The plans and price would differ based on number of sensors offered, level of coverage (lifts, pipes, motors, cameras, locks, inside homes, automations).

How would they start?

I proposed that the company can start rolling out one type of sensor to existing clients. Since the project was done during fall, I proposed a freeze sensor and additional model of application to test with the users and note feedback and required areas of improvement.

Considering the target audience is students and mostly young working individuals we have proposed a freemium model where the alerts can be sent freely and according to the property manager’s needs, sensors inside the apartments, preventive maintenance analysis could be added to further plans.

Business Model

The Design Process:

Design Process Outline
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Research Questions:

1. In what specific contexts or environments are users interacting with our products?

2. What are the problems our stakeholders currently facing in terms of managing/staying in a multi family housing?

3. What are the current market trends in security or multi family housing market?

Research Methods:
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Data Analysis:

We performed Thematic grouping of all the data gathered through our interviews and surveys taken before the interview.

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We created 3 personas and for the sake of the project picked on Persona, the property manager. The reason for choosing property manager as our persona was that the issues property managers mentioned related mostly to what the company could currently achieve and would have future scope as well. (Based on the data from TAM)

Key Insights:

1. The property managers often worry about the damages/ repairs they have to spend money on.

2. The number of maintenance requests they have to manage is very high, which sometimes hinders their work.

3. Property managers often worry about the health of the property/residents when they are away after work.


We followed the Walt Disney Ideation method for ideation. We diverged as a group and came up with 32 ideas that could solve the problems property managers are facing. We then converged and acted as realists and sorted out the ideas that were not feasible. Passing through the 3 stages of the Walt Disney method, we ended up with 3 final ideas to work on.

We then came up with the cost structure and business model for 3 ideas and pitched the ideas to the client, based on the feedback received we choose a solution.

The solution was "Sensor Based Preventive Maintenance System" which is shown above. 

We then tested our mid fi prototype using Wizard of OZ technique with 2 property managers and tweaked the prototype a little bit to their need and prepared a final pitch to the clients, fleshing out the applications, revenue model, cost structure. We researched the current sensor prices, maintenance prices and prices other competitors are offering and built our revenue model accordingly.

Next Steps:

Due to the time constraint, we were not able to build a completely functioning prototype, given time we would use tools like Arduino, Raspberry PI to simulate signals that work with the prototype to further test that could be implemented in any one of the current client locations. 


This project made me understand the importance of TAM in the initial stages of design process. It made me understand how as designers it is crucial to think about the feasibility, client budget and the market factors especially in a time where everything seems possible at a surface level because of ease of access. It made me understand how to dive deep into market analysis research before proposing a solution. This was a perfect stepping stone for me into the corporate world and see how things actually work.

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