Tracking Tiles for Kids: A UX Hackathon Case Study

Improving accessibility to safe commute for children after school

Summary

This was part of a one-day workshop, HexHacks’19, hosted by Hexagon UX and General Assembly. Ninety-one UX designers formed 19 teams to advance the day’s mission: Promoting Underrepresented Communities In Tech.

Role: UX Research, UX Design, Prototyping
Team: me and Amanda B, Angela Liu, Yifan Zhang
Duration: 5 hours
Judges: Ola Sinder, founder of Digital Stitch; Alina Balean, Design Manager at Capital One and Parth Darji, UX Engineer at Google.
Duration: 5 hours

Process

Research: User interviews
Design: low-fidelity paper prototyping + high-fidelity Sketch prototype
Testing: user testing + stakeholder feedback

Problems

Parents often worry about children’s safety after school

Smartphones and wearables are expensive

Design Goal

All kids should be able to participate in afterschool activities and parents should feel secure knowing where they are.

Initially our goal was to focus on access to opportunities regarding transportation, specifically safety regarding children at school age. We wanted to figure out a way for kids to get to and from school and activities safely without burdening working parents. I.e. the issue of cost was a factor — for example, nannies and after school care. If parents can’t afford to pay for transport or aftercare, usually kids don’t get to do after school activities. We started kicking around the idea of a tracking product for parents to feel safe letting their kids travel safely and possibly solo, keeping in mind that existing tracking options are expensive and there is a high probability of kids losing smartphones and wearables.

Brainstorming about children safety

Research

User interviews were the obvious next step but we could not begin interviews without creating a research guide with clear goals and questions.

For our initial research we started broad — increasing our understanding of how parents dealing with their children’s safety problems, particularly on the commute process after classes. We were looking for the concerns for parents.

Hitting the streets of NYC, our team split into two groups to conduct guerrilla user interviews. Time was ticking away, and honestly, I was beginning to feel the pressure of participating in a hackathon.

Interview questions proposal

5 Interviews in Union Square

“After school bus is the challenge because it becomes a conflict with after school activities”

“[…safety} issues with both cabs/public transit”

3 usability interviews in Madison Sq Park

Finding and talking to strangers was a bit challenging and embarrassing at first, especially when involving relatively private information towards their kids, but soon I became relexing and enjoyed the random interview.

Luckily, I came across a caregiver who talked a lot about her worries and frustration when taking care of so many kids in the whole kindergarten.

“Awesome idea…would be very useful on playground…”

“…can’t use iPhone during class, good alternative…would pay $50”

“I have to send kids home in person, but that is time-consuming.”

Finding solutions to solve problems

Solutions

We used the whiteboard walls to speed things along and the user insights we uncovered were written on post-its and stuck to the wall. We used classicaffinity mapping to look for any groupings and patterns

For me, understanding the problem is most important, and my teammates agreed. We were able to formulate a problem statement to inform our project.

How can we make remote tracking device both reliable and affordable?

Combining tiles with tracking web-app

Final Thoughts

Reflecting on this project, the most valuable aspect for me was our team’s collaboration. Working under the constraints of just a few hours on a complex topic shed light on our own accessibility issue, which enabled us to communicate deeper and better. We pivoted a few times as questions led to more questions, but did so in sync.

Teamwork is pretty critical in UX, but sometimes it’s easy to get too caught up in our own designs and ideas that we forget the importance of facilitating a collaborative environment. Talk to your team, but more importantly listen. Try to catch when your own unconscious bias may be creeping in.

Product and UX Designer. A graduate student from Pratt Information Experience Design.

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