On the first day, the four of us were really excited about this Hackathon and this project.
We wanted to immediately jump into developing solutions and how we could make something that satisfies our hunger for building. We worked for 2 full days on the “design thinking” process and tools that most of us had never heard about. Eventually, we managed to work on identifying the problem we wanted to address and reframed it as a “How Might We…?” question.
We thus started with our first project which aimed to track the “focus” of students and 3 of us immediately began to try integrating “gaze” or “eyes movement” detection codes! We were so excited about all of these technical aspects!
The problems started when one of us posted on twitter about our project in order to receive advice and feedback from the teachers/ students/ parent community. At first, some people were really nice and helped us a lot with some kind of advice. However, we quickly got bombarded with many negative comments such as: "Are you serious or this is a joke? If you are serious, please don't do this. Please do some reading on surveillance, race, income inequality, education, and trust before going any further", "I would NEVER subject my students to this level of privacy invasion", "It's just a horrible idea", "Thanks, I hate it", "No. Go away, and when you get there go away some more, and keep going away until you get back here".
We were shocked. We started to lose our motivation. It was really difficult for us to understand why such a violent reaction occurred and what the next steps would be!
At first, we said that we should continue with our idea because " the only problem is that people are not ready for this future of technology ". Despite what we said, we decided to talk to more ethicists after some conversations with experts and mentors.
On Wednesday we decided that a pivot was necessary.
We now realize why Einstein said was really true: "If I were given an hour in which to do a problem upon in my life depended, I would spend 40 minutes studying it, 15 minutes reviewing it and 5 minutes solving it".
We understood what is the most important thing when you need to solve a problem: " the client needs". We made a survey and we received 130 responses in less than 24 hours. We read all the comments and could then clearly identified what was the biggest pain for students/teachers in the online education use case: internet connection issues. We understood that many students like us had their attention dropping mainly because of the interruptions they had during their class when their internet connection was unstable. This is leading us to miss out on vital parts of the lesson and affects our focus, motivation, and learning.
Moreover, the lack of a steady internet connection for some students is increasing education inequality.
We brainstormed various ideas and came up with a solution. This time before implementing our solution, we first discussed it with our potential clients. We interviewed students and teachers and asked them if our solution could really solve their problems. Their positive feedback has confirmed that our team could continue the drive forward.
In conclusion, even if at first receiving negative feedback was difficult for us to accept and seemed like the most horrible thing in our journey, we kind of realize we are happy this event happened.
After that event, our team had to start communicating more efficiently as the clock was ticking. In this process, we got to understand how building a product is really about complying with the law and ethical constraints. But eventually engineering is all about thinking about all possible clients and not just the main basic User Persona. Our main take away is the fact that the creation process is iterative as we always have to check and test with the future users.
Try It out
google-web-speech-api, more-to-come!, opencv, python