our kids are gamers. if you are a gamer or you know a gamer then you know how hard it is to self regulate. as parents, we wanted to help our kids be productive members of society. so we built didya as in "did ya take a shower?"- an autonomous bot that self regulate our children screen time.
What it does
it disconnects their devices (currently their windows gaming rigs but soon their smartphones) and opens them back up when they finished their tasks and chores. It remembers their entire schedule for the whole week in advance so we don't have to. it sends us their "done" requests so we can approve from our smart phones. it helps them self regulate and prevent daily friction about all those issues.
How I built it
with the help of a very talented team who worked tirelessly. didya server is hosted on amazon ec2. using docker containers to host our mongo, twillio and node/typscript api. and continuous integration with our bit bucket repository. our bot code is deployed on aws lex and lambda.
Challenges I ran into
by far, the biggest one was how to make didya tamper-proof. our kids use administrator account on their gaming rigs. honestly, we too want them to be admins because we don't want them to call upon us to type in a password every time a game is requesting access to their microphone. the problem was that they used their admin rights to disable didya. we tried tens upon tens of versions patching and improving until we found the winning formula that let them keep their admin accounts and keep didya tamper-proof.
Accomplishments that I'm proud of
we have created an easy-to-use and family-centric system that solve a real and painful daily family challenge that we as parents were not prepared to live with. and while there were some solutions to our problem non of them was good enough. when we pitched our plans for building didya, many people correctly estimated that it would be technically very challenging to implement. we are proud that we have not given up during the many setbacks along the way.
What I learned
dealing with the many and various (technical and non-technical) aspects of building a (software) product that people want.
What's next for didya
didya is now available as a beta at: http://dashboard.getdidya.com. it transformed our family routines and we hope that other parents will find it useful as well. we hope to add didya as an amazon alexa skill soon and find the funds to bring didya to smartphones. we have more ideas that we can't discuss in public but we think that over time, it is going to be harder for children to disconnect from their devices which are becoming more and more immersive.