Ellen Rose

Ellen Rose 2019

Cardinal Smart Gloves

Product Design, Strategy, Branding


Fall 2018: 10 week sprint

What I Did

User interviews, product development, branding & UX


Guidance from

The Challenge

The Outcome

How might we provide a safe and easy navigation system for female motorcycle riders who don't want to compromise on style and protection?

Cardinal: bold leather gloves with an embedded OLED screen that syncs to Waze and GoogleMaps, so that directions appear to the rider without her having to check her phone or take her hands off the handlebars.


The team started from zero: no user group, no specific problem to address and no client brief. After initial desk research and potential user interviews, the team discovered a variety of unmet needs within the female motorcycle community. None of the team are riders, so we developed a research plan to uncover and understand this subculture's wants, needs and limitations.

13 Interviews

...with female motorcycle riders who use their bikes to commute to work. Interviews were conducted on the phone and in-person at their garages.

Countless Hours

...of research regarding existing product solutions, riding injury statistics and riding culture. The team participated in female rider forums and blogs to gauge riders' unmet wants and needs.


Female motorcycle riders are a fast-growing yet greatly underserved population. Women riders currently represent 14% of the 6.7M motorcycle registrations in the United States, up from 10% in 2009, according to the US Bureau of Transportation.


The women we interviewed noted that the often buy men's riding gear and accessories because the women's versions were developed with a "shrink it and pink it" approach. Cardinal gloves are specifically designed for women.

"Your hands are often the first thing to hit the ground in an accident."

Becky Stern

Commuter rider in NYC

Product Development

Five rounds of prototypes explored how to maximize hand protection with material choices and external armor without sacrificing fit and style. The team also considered how to incorporate the red Cardinal design language into the glove's appearance. And lastly, attention was paid to the UX interaction of the OLED screen on the back of the hand. It was important that the signaling pattern helped riders navigate traffic and new routes without distracting them from operating their bike.  

Brand Assets

Cardinal brand is a reflection of the badass women riders it serves.


A bold logo, brand guidelines, graphic and photography assets, promotional video, packaging, and a retail display bring Cardinal to life. The team proposed a partnership with cosmetics company NARS to create a signature and "Cardinal Red" lip color.

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