Often as children, we were asked, "What do you want to be when you grow up?" Every time we changed our answers, we were sent to different classes to help us embrace our interests. But our answers were restricted and traditional: doctors, engineers or ballerinas. We want to expand every child's scope: to make it more inclusive and diverse, and help them realize the vast opportunities that exist in this beautiful world in a fun way.
Let's get them ready for the future where they follow their passion — let's hear them say designers, environmentalists, coders etc.
What it does
The mobile application uses Augmented Reality technology to help children explore another world from a mobile phone or tablet and understand the importance of their surroundings. It opens up directly into the camera, where it asks the user to point at an object. The app detects the object and showcases various career paths that are related to the object. A child may then pick one and accomplish three simple tasks relevant to that career, which then unlocks a fun immersion into the chosen path's natural environment and the opportunity to "snap" a selfie as the professional using AR filters. The child can save their selfies and first-person immersion experience videos in their personal in-app gallery for future viewing, exploration, and even sharing.
How I built it
Our team of three first approached the opportunity space. We held a brainstorming exercise to pinpoint the exact area where we can help, and then stepped into wireframing. We explored the best medium to play around with for the immersive, AR experience and decided upon Spectacles by Snap & Lens Studio, while exploring Xcode and iOS in parallel. For object detection, we used Google's MLKit Showcase App with Material Design to make use of Google's Object Detection and Tracking API. For the immersion, we used Snap's Spectacles to film real-world experiences that can be overlaid upon any setting, as well as Snap's Lens Studio to create a custom selfie filter to cap off the experience.
We brought in code together with design to bring the app alive with its colorful approach to appeal to kids.
Challenges I ran into
We ran into the problem of truly understanding the perspectives of a younger age group and how our product would successfully be educational, accessible, and entertaining. We reflected upon our own experiences as children and teachers, and spoke to several parents before coming up with the final idea.
When we were exploring various AR/VR/MR technologies, we realized that many of the current tools available don't yet have the engaging user interfaces that we had been hoping for. Therefore we decided to work with Snap's Lens Studio, as the experience in-app on Snapchat is very exciting and accessible to our target age range.
On the technical side, Xcode and Apple have many peculiarities that we encountered over the course of Saturday. Additionally, we had not taken into consideration the restrictions and dependencies that Apple imposes upon iOS apps.
Accomplishments that I'm proud of
We're proud that we did all of this in such a short span of time. Teamwork, rapid problem solving and being there for each other made for a final product that we are all proud to demo.
We're also proud that we took advantage of speaking to several sponsors from Snap and Google, and mentors from Google and Apple (and Stanford) throughout the course of the hackathon. We enjoyed technically collaborating with and meeting new people from all around the industry.
What I learned
We learnt how to collaborate and bring design and code together, and how both go hand in hand. The engineers on the team learned a great amount about the product ideation and design thinking, and it was interesting for all of us to see our diverse perspectives coalesce into an idea we were all excited about.
What's next for Inspo | An exploration tool for kids
On the technical side, we have many ideas for taking our project from a hackathon demo to the release version. This includes:
- Stronger integration with Snapchat and Google Cloud
- More mappings from objects to different career pathways
- Using ML models to provide recommendations for careers similar to the ones children have liked in the past
- An Android version
On the product side, we would like to expand to include:
- A small shopping list for parents to buy affordable, real-world projects related to careers
- A "Career of the Week" highlight
- Support for a network/community of children and potentially even professional mentors