Inspiration

The team is on a mission to humanize the internet with more empathy while having fun. The current internet can be filled with messages and comments that do not reflect the best of humanity. The rise of young adult depression is directly correlated to the rise of social media. Mental health is a growing topic of concern. The team wanted to create an app that flipped the script in regards to cyberbullying and harassment.

How it works

Speak Up is a lightweight and simple messaging platform. It encapsulates three main features: Dynamic Themes, The Bubble Chatform, and Elephant Detector.

Dynamic Themes: Our app is a completely anonymous platform. Users enter a new name each time they log in and reflect on their feelings by selecting an emotion. Each emotion will provide a different experience that carries throughout the session.

The Bubble Chatform: Much like normal speech, messages are not permanent and will spontaneously appear and disappear. This is a place where users can talk about anything. Users can engage and provide support to others in the community. Each bubble flows through the screen once and users will not be able to scroll up to see previous entries.

The Elephant Detector: This is the core feature of our vision for Speak Up. This feature is triggered when a flagged word is written. The flagged word will be auto-correct into a heart emoji. With a bit of humor, we want to reach more people and address the elephant in the room with a bit of love.

As a team of developers, designers, and dreamers we saw an opportunity to respond to the subject of mental health and cyberbullying on a more playful platform. By creating a friendly environment, we can create a platform for serious topics to reach a younger audience.

How we built it

The app is realized as a full fledged mobile application. The prototype is built as a web application as the main testing environment to develop the Elephant Detector Algorithm.

Challenges

The realization of the project from beginning to end relied heavily on custom features and assets. We had to modify existing frameworks to fit our desired outcome within the app. Some examples include modifying the chat scroll as well as thematic mood selections. There was some concern into the ethics along the user journey that needed special attention. Since speech was a hot topic, deciding what was considered “flagged” or “inappropriate” came up in our discussion and we decided to start with an initial database. The team believes it is possible to tread on sensitive subjects and make the app more accessible to a younger audience without a finger-pointing approach.

Accomplishments

One of our exciting moments of the process was when we were able to successfully see the final push of our Elephant Detector. This component is the most important feature as our entire user journey is built around and it has gone through multiple iterations of improvement without sacrificing any performance. It performs very close to our team vision. Please check out in the “Try it out” link below!

Future Development

In the future, we would like to expand the functionality of the app to include additional passive educational aspects and implement a submission form achieving a user maintained Word Database where users can submit requests of words that may be hurtful to them to be evaluated by the development team before entering it to the database. We look forward to leveraging AI technology to increase the performance and accuracy of our Elephant Detector Algorithm. We would like users to feel that we are here to listen while providing a virtual form of performance art.

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