· Projects

I went to my first hackathon last weekend, and it was so inspiring! I met some great people with amazing backgrounds, learned so many things, and I even managed to win a big prize.

At the hackathon, which was hosted by MUXL (Mobile UX London), Orange and Halo Labs, we had the chance to develop an idea for a mobile VR app. We were given 3 briefs, and I chose to pitch an idea for B…

Challenge:

B

Exploit dynamic and multi-modal attributes of the VR environments. Explore using sounds, lighting, texture and amorphous elements (swarms, clouds, etc.) within the VR environment to facilitate the user with orientation or a directed activity, such as way finding towards a location, object or person.

In other words we had to create a VR mobile application that would solve a social problem.

My team:

“Team FEAR” – consisted of 6 members, each of us with varied backgrounds

My role:

UX designer and researcher

Our idea:

Create a mobile VR application aimed at helping people conquer their fears – “PhoGO

Our process:

Warm-up session: Everybody was so excited and nervous, so to break the ice, we discussed our work experience, skills and passions.

From friendly chatting, we moved to our main purpose and put together an action plan: we would assign each member a task based on his or her skills; we would have catch-up meetings every hour and create timelines for the project's different stages.

Discovery (Research): We shared our personal stories about fear and organised a couple of one-on-one interviews with members from other teams.

Then we did some online research about anxiety's impact on people and the existent therapies they use to overcome it.

Analysis: All ideas, observations and experiences were written down on sticky notes and used to create a “wall of information” . This helped us draw connections between different elements, develop new and deeper insights, put together a clear problem-defining process and develop potential solutions.

Ideation (Brainstorming): Once we structured all of the data, we focused on creating a user persona, making a clear journey map and identifying major pain points that we had to tackle.

Fear of public speaking (glossophobia) seems to be the greatest phobia for a majority of the population (75% of the US population suffer from it).

People either spend a lot of money on therapies to overcome it, or limit their career opportunities by avoiding public speaking situations.

PhoGO will help them improve their public speaking skills by allowing them to practice in the comfort of their homes at a small cost and with no time limit.

Design: By the end of the day, we also had to create a basic interactive prototype that would sustain our idea. Halo is a new VR prototyping software that was introduced to us a day before. We had a short online training session, and we were ready to try it for our prototype.

As any new tool, there were some issues, and we thought we might have lost all our work 1 hour before the presentation. This obviously caused a bit of panic and frustration, but everything was fixed eventually. I tend to believe I fixed it by deleting the numerous test projects that were taking up too much space in the database, although my theory has yet to be confirmed...

Implementation: In the end, we put together a PowerPoint presentation that would contain a short description of our app and the design thinking process behind it.

The day ended with smiles on our faces as we received the prize for Most Original Concept.

The Take Away:

It was a long, hard workday where everybody had one purpose – create a unique, innovative product.

Even though we only knew each other for a couple of hours, the desire to do something great resulted in amazing teamwork. There was no judgement or criticism, no bad ideas. There was discipline (one conversation at a time, well-defined timelines and project steps), collaboration and communication. We didn’t lose track of our work, and we were able to finish on time.

I believe this was the key to our success as it is for any successful project.

We learned a lot from each other, and our efforts were much appreciated and rewarded.

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