So tonight I attended Lighthouse Labs Toronto Demo Day, where current students get the opportunity to showcase their end of course projects, to family, friends, and complete strangers. Students were enrolled in an 8-9 week intensive Bootcamp style programs.
There were a total of 7 2-3 person groups, with 2 groups focussing on iOS development and the remaining 5 focussing on web development. The students were allowed complete anonymity in selecting their project. There was no theme or required components, because of this the projects were really varied.
There was also a voting component, after the presentations the audience gave 1 red ruby and 1 blue ruby for their favourite (red for Web and blue for iOS).
Here is a little blurb about what was showcased, along with any links:
SoundCard – StudyAid (iOS)
This was a study aid app, that used text and audio cues to help with retaining information. The app used Tinder-style mechanics (left/right swipe functionality) to score your responses to a flash card style question. What was unique about this app is that it allowed the user to include recorded audio cues to help with enhance their study session. This was interesting in that it really took into consideration that there are those out there with different ways of learning. There was also analytics in that session information was stored within the app to track progress, and allowed to customize how the information was fed to the user and in what frequency. Design wise the app could have been better designed but the creators did preface their presentation by saying they weren’t designers in any capacity. I did not hear the creators mention anything about making their app available publicly.
Now this was a very well presented project. Simply put Sati is a meditation timer. I’m not one to meditate, so I don’t see myself using it personally, but I could see someone who did really enjoying it. Now where I really liked what this group did was in the market research. They started their presentation by basically jumping into the pain points of the top meditation apps available on the app store. Then after introducing those they jumped into how their app solved those problems (cluttered design, hassle to access, distracting monetization system, stressful experience etc.). Those pain points highlighted the irony of these apps. It was interesting to see how this group accomplished making a functional yet robust health app, that even integrated with iHealth. Something I was a little concerned about was the accessibility of this app. There was a point one of the presenters made about how the directional dialog only being available once unless the app was deleted which was a little unsettling. However seeing the app in action I could see there are only 3 screens the user can navigate to just by swiping, so only user testing and feedback would tell if this is a big issue.
Med Diary (Web Development)
As someone who goes the doctor and has a hard time recalling information, such as, when did it start hurting, how would you rate the pain, is it always this painful, any other symptoms,……? I really saw the practical application of their product, and development wise it looked ready to make publicly available, although I’m sure it could use some refinement, it would definitely succeed as a beta offering.
It was basically a way to track any symptoms, painful or otherwise so that you could relay this information to the appropriate medical professional. They really made it user-friendly through the use of understandable and recognizable imagery and a very non-intimidating interface. The dashboard even collected user input to sort and display the information in a trend style graph based on body area. They didn’t demo this but if there was option to email a report back to your doctor or just pull one up on the app it would be very helpful come appointment time.
Focus (Web Development)
This was a platform that connected photographers with potential clients. It allowed both groups to create accounts and navigate the site filling their needs. The user group who would be most engaged are photographers, who create an account, upload albums, share their work with potential clients, and even start the consultation/on-boarding process within the site. Graphically I felt it could use some refinement, the colour palette used was very dark which made it not as inviting as it could have been, but that is obviously a personal preference.
InSeason (Web Development)
This was a platform created for Community Supported Agriculture. It enables farmers to interact directly with their customer base, by allowing them to see the produce that is currently available, what is upcoming, and what is no longer available. It allows potential members to locate farmers in their area and place orders online.
What really would have been interesting to see is more features for the farmer. In future versions of this I would say allow farmer more analytics and business functionality making the site more of a one stop shop.
Cerebrum (Web Development)
Now I really had some issues with this one. Cerebrum was presented as a Chatbot that operates on Facebook Messenger to assess concussion symptoms and create a report that can be shared with medical professionals. Now they stated that they were using the standard assessment that was used by top athletes and that wasn’t really my problem with it. As a former athlete and someone who has suffered one concussion in my past (as a child I fell and hit my head while on a skating trip with my school) there were some concerns.
Replacing a medical professional with a Chatbot was very unsettling, and here’s why. After falling and hitting my head, and in-between bouts of crying was able to tell my teacher what happened, all they did was tell me that I should probably take it easy and take a seat for the remainder of the trip. I went home for lunch and their instructions (for a very young child) was to tell my mother what had happened (no they did not send me with a letter, nor did they call my mom). After telling my mother what had happened she thought it best I stay home from school for the rest of the day. So I went and watched TV, for the most part I felt fine. Until I threw up pretty much everything I had eaten that day. We went to the doctors to find out that I had suffered a pretty bad concussion, nothing life endangering but still pretty bad.
I understand the popularity of sites such as WebMD and that with the internet and access to information being what it is, that this is where things are going. But unless you live in a place where access to medical help is restricted or very limited, there is no substitute for getting checked out by your doctor. However it wasn’t presented as a supplement for those who would identify in such a way. They introduced this app as way for athletes to get checked out without the fear of losing playing time, but wouldn’t that only further the issue. Let’s say the report says you suffered a heavy concussion and need to seek help wouldn’t the user still hide this information. Maybe if teams could create accounts and user profiles and if anyone’s score was within a certain threshold the coaching staff was automatically alerted.
All this aside from a programming perspective it was quite impressive.
Manage Mint (Web Development)
This group presented their employee performance tracker. Now what made their tracker unique is that it offered sentiment analysis as well as the standard quantitative analysis (top earners, revenue, etc.)
Managers could track employee performance alongside customer reviews to get a more comprehensive picture of how their team members were doing. The program could flag reviews and provides a percentage score out of 100, with scores less than 50 being cause for concern.
You could even send meeting invites within the site to any employee upon receiving a good or bad review.
Space Jam (Web Development)
Now this was the last group of the night, and what they presented brought me back to elementary school Much Music Video Party days. They had a social web app, where you could host a “party” where users could suggest music they would like to hear, and other users could vote on those suggestions. Voting was done by putting 3 suggestions up against one another, the most voted selection was played next in the queue. It could even control a fog machine and lighting display (yes there really was a mini music party).
The front interface of this was something I would really enjoy learning more about. It appeared to be a 3-d environment where users and song suggestions would float across the screen denoted by a spaceship (for users) and stars (for songs). One thing I really would’ve liked to see what integration with social media (Twitter comes to mind). However I really enjoyed what these guys were able to create.
All of the groups and presenters did a fantastic job with their projects and presenting them to the public. As someone who still considers themselves a beginner it was motivating to see what this group was able to put together. Now I understand they all just went through a Bootcamp program, so I do not expect to experience their rate of growth.
Now who did I vote for.
iOS Vote: SoundCard
With only two groups I gave my vote to the SoundCard group. While the Sati app was more polished and looked ready for distribution, that mechanics that must have went into the SoundCard app really highlighted their technical skills. Also as they mentioned they weren’t design oriented people I gave them some leeway on that component. Also as someone who doesn’t do well with traditional study methods this was a breath of fresh air to see.
Web Vote: MedDiary
Now with this group I saw the practical application, the scalability. As presented the app was well designed, and could have been launched as-is. I could see this really helping those who suffered from constant illness and doctors who struggle with patients pain management, as pain tolerance is both subjective and unique to the individual. This app really addressed a need. Also with some added features this could really supplement an individuals healthcare needs, such as the storing of medical records, and dosage histories, etc.
I hope to attend more of these types of events moving forward.