I aim to shape products, interfaces and services that mediate meaningful dialogues between people, systems and their environments within everyday life.

Posts tagged ‘education’


Talking Teddy

Last weekend I attended the AT&T mobile app hackathon, my very first hackathon. Within a 24 hour period, we had to get into teams and build a mobile app for education.

I teamed up with a dynamic and multidisciplinary group to develop an idea for a stuffed teddy bear that teaches kids in a tangible, interactive, and engaging way. By enabling touch, visuals, sound, and voice, in addition to understanding principals of turn-taking necessary for natural conversation and for keeping attention, we created an immersive and entertaining experience for children.

Our proof of concept integrated a mobile device to a teddy bear. The mobile device runs an application which listens to voice input and uses natural language processing to formulate an appropriate verbal response using text-to-speech. We developed a small library of educational lessons like recognizing colours, learning the alphabet and listening to animal sounds as well as little game rewards to have Teddy tell a joke or sing a song.

For the mobile device I designed simple and fun UI to provide helpful visuals to accompany the audio and ongoing conversation between teddy and child. To manage the child’s learning progress and lesson plans, an admin UI was created for the parent or teacher to choose the education level and the types of lessons/games, as well as track the child’s progress over time.


By the end of the 24-hour period, all teams went up to do a show-and-tell of their prototype. We hit a couple of hiccups with the voice recognition in our demo, but it was really well received. We ended up being the grand prize winner – not too shabby for a bad first-time hacking experience!



The Finish Line

After some intense weeks of late nights and hard work, the Stanford Human-Computer interaction course I took through Coursera has come to an end. This was a great way to motivate myself to work on my own personal project and after 5 weeks of immersing myself in the whole end-to-end design process, from user research and observations all the way to learning jQuery Mobile for my design implementation and conducting user evaluations. I came out developing a prototype for a mobile biking app designed to encourage and guide urban exploration. It’s still in a very rough stage at the moment and I’ve gleaned some valuable feedback from user evaluations that will require some big design changes. This has become a pet project that I intend to carry on after the course.

This course offering was an experimental launch for such a design course in an online format so there were some hiccups and a few things that could be improved on, but overall it was quite successful. I especially enjoyed the peer assessments for each assignment as it allowed you to see what ideas other students were working on and to receive constructive criticism and feedback for your own project. Professor Scott Klemmer was a great instructor and he plans to offer it again later on with improvements based on feedback and what they had learned from this first round. So, if you’re interested in HCI or UI design or even if you’re familiar with the concepts already, it’s worthwhile to try this course out.


UX Education Panel

Last night I gave a talk on a UX education panel hosted by IxDA Toronto. I was joined by 3 other panelists: a college new media instructor, a senior creative director of a large design agency, and an interaction designer/educator at a local design studio. It was really interesting to discuss the diverse paths people followed to end up in the UX field. Formal education backgrounds ranged from computer science and information/library science to fine art and design, while others were self-taught and learned on the job.

User experience or interaction design is such a multi-faceted discipline that you need to build a foundation of skills ranging from the creative to the technical and analytical. There is no “one size fits all” educational path.