IA03: Project Pitch

Posted: Sunday, August 31st
Due: Tues, 9/6 (Before Class) and Thurs, 9/8 at 11:59PM.

Assignment Overview

In this course, we have two main types of assignments: individual assignments and a semester-long project (completed in teams of four). The semester-long projects, referred to as Team Assignments (or TAs), are based on project pitches that students (you!) come up with.

The theme of the semester long project this year is mobile. Your project pitches must all be mobile applications with the following high-level requirements:
  • must be designed for a mobile device (e.g., smartphone, tablet, or smartwatch)
  • must utilize a mobile device's built-in sensors for some part of the interaction including but not limited to: GPS, microphone, accelerometer, gyroscope. Note: in class someone asked me if a camera is a sensor and I said yes, but only if the image is treated as sensor data--e.g., either in the citizen science sense of capturing some flora, animal, etc. in the physical world or in the computational sense where you run some computer vision algorithms for edge detection or motion tracking (e.g., Wang et al., UIST'06) .
  • must be accomplishable in ~15 weeks with four group members
  • must have a target group of users ( e.g., diehard video gamers, hipster bicyclists, baby boomers, college students)
  • must be implementable in Android; all project teams will demonstrate an interactive prototype at the end of the semester

Assignment Timeline/Process

This assignment has four parts: Parts One and Two are due Tues, 9/6 before class, Part Three is conducted in class on 9/6, and Part Four is due Thurs, 9/8 at 11:59PM
  1. In Part One, you will brainstorm a list of mobile application ideas fitting this semester's theme (we started doing this already in the first day of class--yay, headstart!)
  2. In Part Two, you will select the top two ideas for your list and draft an 'elevator pitch.'
  3. In Part Three, you will share both your brainstormed list of ideas as well as your draft elevator pitches and receive constructive feedback from one or two partners.
  4. In Part Four, you will draft new pitches and/or revise old ones and submit them to us

Matt and I will review each project pitch and select the top 20-30, which you will vote on in your next assignment (IA03). We will use your votes to select the final projects and then you will be given a chance to provide input on which projects you would like to work on. After we receive your project preferences, Matt and I will form teams on a first-come-first-serve basis (more details to follow).

Part One: Brainstorm

On paper (in your sketchbook!), brainstorm a list of potential interactive mobile application ideas.This brainstorm can be on paper (preferred) and then scanned in or in your favorite text editor. You must turn in the list. Make sure your ideas are big enough for ~15 weeks and a four person team. Zany and creative ideas are encouraged. You should have around 20 different ideas.Scan in your sketchbook (or take non-blurry photos) to submit for your deliverable.

Before you start brainstorming, please read/watch the following (the login/password is here):
  1. Tom Kelley, The Perfect Brainstorm, Excerpt from The Art of Innovation, 2007 [source link]

  2. ABC News Video, IDEO Design Thinking, 60 Minutes, January 2013 [source link] (This video is about Tom's brother David Kelley, who is the founder of IDEO and a professor at Stanford).

Some examples:
  • an interactive visualization of http://data.dc.gov/ local city data which changes based on your location,
  • a new kind of game controller and custom game using Arduino + Tablet [link]
  • new kinds of ambient visualizations of air pollutants (e.g., [link])
  • new mobile application with routing navigation algorithms and interfaces that provide an accessibility score for individual routes in https://terpnav.umd.edu/
  • a "fog-of-war" type mobile exploration game that encourages bicyclists to explore new parts of the city (unexplored areas are blacked out and only become visible when you bike through them; gamifying biking).
  • a smartphone WiFi signal strength tracker and visualizer (users GPS + WiFi)--useful for mapping the dead WiFi spots in AVW and CSIC
  • using the brand new Project Sidewalk API, build an accessibility-aware route recommender that allows mobility impaired users to input their mobility levels and the interface provides a few suggested accessible routes based on their capabilities
  • use a thermal camera attachment (see materials below) to create art, a game, a public health application (e.g., food safety), or to help energy audit campus buildings

Part Two: Drafting Two Pitches

Select two ideas from your list and write-up a more detailed proposal (aka an "elevator pitch") for each. The proposal should:
  • be between 1-3 paragraphs
  • contain an interface sketch
  • include at least three references(e.g., references that provide more background on problem or to similar/related applications).

You can draft these either in your sketchbook or on a computer. Either way, be prepared to share them during class on Tues, 9/6.

You should use Google and search in the Apple Store/Google Play to investigate the novelty of your idea before selecting and drafting your elevator pitches. It's OK if you select an idea that already exists, but your pitch should have something new and you should argue why those differences matter.

You must upload one PDF containing scans of your brainstorm list + your two proposals before class on Tues, 9/6.

Part Three: Peer Feedback

In class on Tues, 9/6 you will pair up with at least one partner, discuss your brainstorm list, read each other's elevator pitches and provide feedback. Things to think about:
  • What problem is the app solving? (Note: not all apps solve problems and that's OK--for example, games and interactive art apps)
  • Who are the target users? Why would they want to use the app (i.e,. what's the value proposition?)
  • What role do sensors play in the interaction? Are they a core part of the app or fairly superfluous?
  • Is the app exciting to you? Why or why not?

Take notes on this feedback and use it to revise your pitches for Part Four. You will also submit your notes to Canvas.

Part Four: Pitch Iteration

Based on feedback received in Part Three, iterate on your project pitches. If your partner helped you think of a new idea or thought one of your ideas from your brainstorm list was more interesting than one of your project pitches, feel free to write a brand new proposal. The final proposal should be typed on a computer, should include at least one interface sketch (can be same one used in Part Two if no changes, simply scan or take a picture of the sketch), and at least three references.

Materials Available to You

With my approval, you can "check out" one or more of the following pieces of technology for your project. Please use the list below to help inspire your ideas (e.g., how about building a running app that allows you to race your quadcopter--the quadcopter uses a target pace that you set or your pace average from previous runs). You can also use some of your own resources (I expect that you have your own computer for design and development). Note: you don't have to use any of this stuff, I'm just letting you know that it's available to get your creative juices going.
  • A FLIR One Thermal Camera attachment for Android phones (~2 available)
  • A Microsoft Kinect (~10 available)
  • An android tablet (~2 available)
  • An android mobile phone (~2 available)
  • AR.Drone Quadcopter (2 available)
  • Syma S107/S107G R/C Helicopter - Red (2 available)
  • Arduino Leonardo (~5 available)
  • Arduino Uno (~5 available)
  • Raspberry Pi (~2 available)
  • Beaglebone (1 available)
  • Makey Makeys (~2 available)

In rare circumstances, I could also purchase a piece of technology for your project. This technology would be owned by my lab and then loaned to you for your duration of need during the semester.

The Elevator Pitch

Each pitch should contain (these may come in any order but the order below is fairly standard):
  1. A title with your university id below
  2. A sentence motivating the problem that you’re trying to solve
  3. A problem statement (what is the problem specifically)?
  4. A taste of past solutions to said problem and where they may be limited
  5. Your proposed solution and what makes it unique
  6. Who this will benefit and why
  7. How you plan to evaluate your solution (we haven't gone over strategies yet, so just do your best)
  8. A list of references (with web links as appropriate; each pitch should have at least three references where at least one reference is used to provide evidence for your problem and two references of related work in solving said problem. Please format the reference list with APA style)

The writing doesn’t have to be perfect. We are most interested in the idea and the ways in which you’ve thought about the idea. You are likely going to have to cite academic and/or news articles in your proposal to help substantiate the problem. Thus, you need to have a works cited at the end of the pitch with a list of references (where applicable). You can also use images in the pitch (as many as you want).

Rather than writing in prose, you can also use bullet point form, and explicitly state:
  • Problem background/motivation: <fill in text>
  • Particular problem that you're trying to solve: <fill in text>
  • Taste of past solutions: <text>
  • Your proposed solution and how it's different from past attempts: <text>
  • Your target users: <fill in text>
  • Evaluation plan: <fill in text>
  • References: <fill in text>

If you are not solving a specific problem in particular but, instead, creating a new kind of game or exploratory interaction, then adapt the above accordingly.

Example Pitch

Here’s an example ~220 word proposal for a project on water sensing and feedback to encourage water conservation in the home. While not a mobile project, the example helps highlight key aspects of your proposal.

Empowering Home Owners to Use Less Water through Better Information
<the last four digits of my university id here>
Cities across the world are facing an escalating demand for potable water due to growing populations, higher population densities and warmer climates [2]. As new sources of water become more environmentally and economically costly to extract, water suppliers and governments are shifting their focus from finding new supplies to using existing supplies more efficiently [3]. One challenge in improving residential efficiency, however, is the lack of awareness that occupants have about their in-home water consumption habits. This disconnect makes it difficult, even for motivated individuals, to make informed decisions about what steps can be taken to conserve [1].
In this project, we propose a new type of feedback mechanism for residential water consumption that leverages emerging sensors that monitor water usage at individual fixtures with only one or a few low-cost sensors [2]. Unlike past water usage feedback systems which only provide one number per month on consumption (e.g., a water bill), our system provides real-time feedback on all water fixture usages across the home via a live HTML5 website that can be viewed on mobile phones or traditional web browsers. Our system promises to help better inform residents about wasteful water usage practices (e.g., leaky toilets) as well as to help inform new government codes about plumbing, water heating and low-flow fixtures.
References
  1. Froehlich, J. (2011). Sensing and Feedback of Everyday Activities to Promote Environmental Behaviors. Doctoral dissertation. University of Washington, Seattle.
  2. Froehlich, J., Larson, E., Saba, E., et al. (2011). A Longitudinal Study of Pressure Sensing to Infer Real-World Water Usage Events in the Home. Pervasive’11; 50-69
  3. Glennon, R. (2009). Unquenchable: America’s Water Crisis and What to Do about It. Island Press
  4. Inman, D., & Jeffrey, P. (2006). A Review of Residential Water Conservation Tool Performance and Influences on Implementation Effectiveness. Urban Water J., 3(3):127-143.

Analyzing the Example Proposal

If you break down the above pitch statement into parts, you get:
  • Title: A succinct text capturing the idea of the pitch itself.
  • Problem background/motivation: Cities across the world are facing an escalating demand for potable water due to growing populations, higher population densities and warmer climates [2]. As new sources of water become more environmentally and economically costly to extract, water suppliers and governments are shifting their focus from finding new supplies to using existing supplies more efficiently [3].
  • More specific problem statement: One challenge in improving residential efficiency, however, is the lack of awareness that occupants have about their in-home water consumption habits. This disconnect makes it difficult, even for motivated individuals, to make informed decisions about what steps can be taken to conserve [1].
  • Proposed solution: In this project, we propose a new type of feedback mechanism for residential water consumption that leverages emerging sensors that monitor water usage at individual fixtures with only one or a few low-cost sensors [2].
  • Differentiation to past solutions: Unlike past water usage feedback systems which only provide one number per month on consumption (e.g., a water bill), our system provides real-time feedback on all water fixture usages across the home via a live HTML5 website that can be viewed on mobile phones or traditional web browsers.
  • Who benefits and why: By providing much more temporal and granular data than ever before possible, our system promises to help better inform residents about wasteful water usage practices (e.g., leaky toilets) as well as to help inform new government codes and regulations about plumbing, water heating and low-flow fixtures.

Other Examples

Here are some of the higher scoring proposals from previous classes. Note that previous classes had different project requirements and different project themes--still, these examples provide a useful reference.

Deliverables

Please post the following to Canvas as a single PDF by the due date(s).
  1. A scanned or otherwise digital version of your brainstorm list. You should have at least 20 differentiated ideas, which are numbered.

  2. Your original two elevator pitches (Part Two).

  3. Your notes from Part Three

  4. Your two final elevator pitches on separate pages. Do NOT put your name on the document directly. Instead, put the last four digits of your university id below your title.

Note: Post materials from 1 and 2 as a single PDF before class on 9/6 and then upload the complete set of materials as a new PDF on 9/8.