Workshop on sustainable entrepreneurship

Participated in two-day a workshop offered by the Graduate School of TU Delft, and took place at the Yes!Delft incubator. Topics included business model generation, business canvas, team-building challenges, lean startup, success/failure stories, etc. Participants (all doctoral students at the TU Delft) were divided into teams of 4, and each team had to pick one of the research topics of the group members to try and turn it into a business idea.

Our team picked a topic that was quite far from what I do: building vegetation (the vertical type that can be attached to the outside of a house or a building), that saves energy, prolongs the life of the building, provides better isolation (and thus reduces energy costs) and cleans the air from certain harmful material.

It was quite interesting that, despite the fact the remaining team members had no experience on the topic, we were able to contribute quite well to the business model/canvas, gaining traction, and ideas for generating profit. See photos below! (Full of post-its).

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ICT Open 2015

Presented both a poster and a demo at ICT Open 2015! This is my second participation in ICT Open after the 2012 edition, and this time it was held in De Flint theater, Amersfoort, over the course of two days. There was around 50 or more demos in the hallway, and plenty of interesting talks/events, however I had to stay by my demo (and poster) almost the whole time. Overall, there was plenty of interest especially in my app, and plenty of research/industry contacts made. It was also great to see my supervisor at TU Delft awarded the Dutch prize for ICT in 2014, though unfortunately she couldn’t come to accept it in person. See below the poster, and more photos from the event here.

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Design Jam 2014

I had so much fun participating in the 2013 edition of the Design Jam Amsterdam, that I have been in contact with the organizers and was added to the organizing team for 2014! This time the event will be hosted by the Hogeschool van Amsterdam (HvA), and will have many more sponsors. Looking forward for finding out what the design challenge will be this time, and how I could participate in making this series of events much more interesting.

Fully implemented app interface

Finally we have the app’s XML code for the interface implemented. Along with our programmer we both took part in implementing this interface. With android it can be quite tricky to create menus that update their contents interdependently, such as the Afspraken (agreements) menu, see photos. Must use runOnUiThread, which can be quite complex. Luckily StackOverflow is abundant with examples on that, like this one for example.

However, it is a still a very satisfying experience to have such a complex menu finally work flawlessly, while knowing that I’m being able to implement what is required in case we needed to change anything.

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Design Jam 2013

Participated in Design Jam Amsterdam. Was a really cool event! The theme was healthcare, and it lasted 2 days. on Friday evening teams were formed (seven of them), and discussed the next day’s events for a short while. All day Saturday the teams worked on creating a prototype of a product that would in one way or another, contribute to the domain of healthcare. Our team’s contribution was a family-oriented sports competition platform, that would encourage participation in sports events through utilizing gamification. It even had its own cool name, Zoef! See photos.

One of the coolest thing was the presentation style. Not one team used good o’l power point. Some used a paper roll, some (like us) acted the presentation out, etc. Way more attention grabbing than a bunch of slides!

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Co-constructing stories: an evaluation method for future tech concepts

Co-Constructing Stories (CCS) is particularly suited for the evaluation of technology that is still in the conception phase, as it permits potential users to make judgments about future design concepts through linking them to their own past (or current) experiences. The method consists of two phases: sensitization and elaboration. In the sensitization phase, users are asked whether they recognize a particular story and is invited to talk about their own experiences in this context. In the elaboration phase the researcher introduces the concept-to-be-evaluated as an additional element to the story, and participants are then invited to tell how they believe the story would play out after the introduction of that element.

Four kids, and four of their parents (one parent per child), were interviewed separately at a local community center in HIA. In each group, two co-constructing stories sessions. Scenarios were presented with the visual aid of comic-like storyboards.

In the first scenario, the sensitizing story is about a girl who is going to school by herself. She is told by her mother to be careful on her way to school. She gets to school just in time. The story is elaborated to include a handheld smart device, and the mother asks the girl to check in when she gets to school, which the girl does.

The second scenario uses a sensitizing story of a boy who is bored at home, not knowing that fairly close by two of his friends are playing outside. The elaborated story introduces a handheld smart device, which allows the boy to see where his friends are, prompting him to go outside to join them.

You can see the slides used below for both scenarios, creating with toondoo.com.

The interviews were semi-structured, meaning that interviewees could divert from the questions asked, provided they remained within the general theme of discussion. Each group (parents and children) interview lasted approximately 30 minutes (15 minutes per scenario), in which approximately 5 minutes were spent discussing the sensitizing story, and 10 minutes were spent discussing the elaboration story. First, the sensitizing story was shown as a storyboard, then the discussion was initiated by asking the participants if they recognize that story in their lives. Their led to follow-up questions to elicit more information about the shape and variation this scenario takes individually for each participant. Afterwards, the elaborating story was introduced on the storyboard, and to stimulate the discussion participants were asked if they would find the introduced technology useful. Their answers would also lead to further questions regarding why they found a certain enhancement useful (or not), and what specifically made it perceivably more useful.

Audio from the interviews was recorded and transcribed afterwards. Qualitative data analysis is in progress!

Paper prototype of the app!

Gotta admit it’s quite fun creating a mobile app prototype out of paper. Eventually, for the testing, I might switch to an electronic version using something like Balsamiq, especially if the required functions for that usability test were getting out of control (which appears to be rapidly happening). But for now at least, I will continue on paper and see how things will turn out in the next few days.

paper prototype snap

Focus groups in our target area

We have lately performed three focus group sessions with our target group members in South Holland, which was composed of two groups, the first group of six parents, and the second group of six of their children.

Through a small “snowball sample” we requested these groups to participate in the studies. Our snowball sample started with a contact who participates in the school board, a youth centre and in a website for the local community.

The first focus group session included the six parents only. We introduced them to our project, research, and explained the aim of our user studies. To stimulate discussion, we displayed a few usage scenarios and design claims (i.e. claims about a few positive and negative effects within our scenarios) then asked the participants to rate to what extent they agree with our claims. See slides at the end of this post. This was the session when we provided the parents with the cultural probes kits.

The second session (three weeks later) included the same group as the first session. The parents brought back the material they (along with their children) collected during that period using the cultural probes kit, and then proceeded (individually) to describe the data (e.g., pictures, map highlights, etc.) they collected with their kits. This process stimulated the discussion for a further 45 minutes in which many of the parents and their children’s life issues, values, and concerns were raised.

The third session included the six children only. The ages of the children ranged between six and eight years old. That session was led by an experienced elementary school teacher, and consisted of a discussion where the teacher asked the children a number of open ended questions related to their knowledge and usage of current technology, what activities they are allowed to do, how they connect with other children at school, sport clubs, and other places.

All sessions were audio-taped.