Today, seniors are a larger demographic than under fifteen year olds in Canada, and yet almost twenty percent of them suffer from social isolation. Even more in retirement homes or care facilities where social isolation has been surveyed at rates up to forty-three percent. With the way the population is aging and the demographics shifting, by 2036, almost a quarter of the Canadian population will be senior citizens.
Inspired by these hard facts and the biasus many of us assume when interacting with someone of a very different age group, we decided something has to be done about this social isolation and to bridge the gap between seniors and younger generations.
What it does
Intertwine is a web based app that uses video chat API to connect users in face to face conversations. This social interaction will serve as a vehicle to create new social connections and improve the overall social health of the users that are suffering from social isolation.
The video call conversations are facilitated through a simple and accessibility designed interface that enables them to find other users to talk to via generalized topics. Users will also be able to save contacts to a contact address book, enabling them to call them and continue the conversation and growing a social relationship. A geolocation feature is opt in and allows a user to video chat with users that are geographically nearby, which could eventually lead to physical meetings.
How we built it
We began with brainstorming and talking with members of our target user base in order to create viable concepts of tools and solutions. Brainstorming consisted of free form sticky notes containing ideas, followed by idea grouping and eventually settling on the core concept of Intertwine, face to face video calling to create social connections. During this entire process we were able to discover each others skills which helped inform our decision on if our concepts were feasible in the forty-eight hour timeframe.
We began sketching wireframes and working on the back end respectively before moving onto creating both low and then high fidelity mockups. Eventually we created an interactive prototype as a last step before coding the front end and connecting it with the back end code to complete the web app.
The back end coding included: Requirement gathering and refinement Architecture definition and services design Back end development and launch Trial and error, communication and engagement to achieve understanding
Challenges we ran into
Making UI design choices that would be feasible by the developers with the given time constraints Build all the back end services in a very tight deadline Difficulties to find a feasible web chat solution that would work without all the registration process Considering features and balancing them with the older demographic, as they must not alienate the younger ones as well Making decisions about to discard some options that were better at the beginning until issues came up heading to dead ends.
Accomplishments that we're proud of
Teamworking Decision making against some issues that came up Ideation of small ideas and circumventing and developing them into a fleshed-out, ambitious idea A tool that can really make difference in the elderly’s lives Research to evaluate different tools to find out which fitted in
What we learned
Gained experience (as a designer) working with developers, and getting a better idea of how to prepare work with other team members in mind Reinforce that the concept of collaborative work between people is powerful to face big challenges. Understanding the role of the single person in a team role; how it is critical that communication is important for good workflow. Ideas require constant understanding and feedback with the target people and demographic; that all opinions matter, and factor as a way of considering new routes in design, programming, and fabrication. Online video call api using Improved my back end development skills by building services from the scratch to production using Code First approach Interacting with the potential user can broaden perspective Used Figma for wireframing and prototyping for the first time
What's next for Intertwine
To get more younger users involved, social media plugs and ads would make Intertwine known and as the user base expands Intertwine would require additional moderation and security features in order to prevent negative experiences.
We envision Intertwine becoming a creator of social connections between young, old, and each other, and could with a little work become a tool for private organizations like care homes or retirement homes where they could use it in a rec room with a television and webcam to provide a window between the care homes and other private venues opening up new relationships without ever having the leave the homes.