IA02: Project Pitch

Due: Email meethu@cs.umd.edu by Tuesday Feb 4 at 9:30 am

Assignment Overview

This assignment has two parts:
  1. Brainstorm a list of 10 to 20 potential interactive computer application ideas.This brainstorm can be on paper (preferred, because you can sketch your ideas) and then scanned in or in your favorite text editor. You must turn in the list. Make sure your ideas are big enough for ~15 weeks and a four person team. Zany and creative ideas are encouraged.
    Some examples:
    • an interactive visualization of http://data.dc.gov/ (or other) data,
    • a new kind of game controller and custom game using Arduino [link]
    • new kinds of ambient visualizations of air pollutants (e.g., [link]
    • a "fog-of-war" type mobile exploration game that encourages bicyclists to explore new parts of the city (unexplored areas are blacked out and only become visible when you bike through them; gamifying biking).

  1. Select two ideas from your list and write-up an "elevator pitch" for each. The elevator pitch itself should be no longer than two paragraphs though one is likely enough.
    Note that the projects:
    • must be accomplishable in ~15 weeks with four group members
    • identify a target group of users ( e.g., diehard video gamers, hipster bicyclists, baby boomers, college students)
    • must be implementable in code; all project teams will demonstrate an interactive prototype at the end of the semester


Materials Available to You
I assume that you have access to computers and mobile devices that you can use for development. Fairly simple materials (like the ones in some of the suggestions above) are fair game. Be creative (and reasonable), and we will see what we can do if availability of hardware is an issue.

Available Software Tools

Microsoft has long offered much of its software free to students through its MSDN Academic Alliance (MSDNAA) program. This effort has now been rebranded as Microsoft DreamSpark:
https://www.dreamspark.com/.

As UMD students, you also get access to the entire Adobe Creative Suite (which is amazing). You can download the installation packages here:

Tableau, a visualize analytics tool, is currently offering a free one-year license for the desktop product to full-time students. Information is here: http://www.tableausoftware.com/academic/students

For Integrated Development Environments (IDEs), we have licenses for PhpStorm, RubyMine, and WebStorm. You can download Visual Studio via Microsoft DreamSpark and, of course, Eclipse, Apple Xcode and Android tools are free. :)

The Elevator Pitch

Each pitch should contain (these may come in any order but the order below is fairly standard):
  1. A title with your university id below
  2. A sentence motivating the problem that you’re trying to solve
  3. A problem statement (what is the problem specifically)?
  4. A taste of past or existing solutions to said problem and where they may be limited
  5. Your proposed solution and what makes it unique
  6. Who this will benefit and why
  7. How the benefits of your solution could be measured (just do your best)
  8. A list of references (with web links as appropriate; each pitch should have at least three references where at least one reference is used to provide evidence for your problem and two references of related work in solving said problem. Please format the reference list with APA style)

The writing doesn’t have to be perfect. We are most interested in the idea and the ways in which you’ve thought about the idea. You are likely going to have to cite academic and/or news articles in your proposal to help substantiate the problem and show that your solution does not already exist. Thus, you need to have a works cited at the end of the pitch with a list of references (where applicable). You can also use images in the pitch (as many as you want).

Rather than writing in prose, you can also use bullet point form, and explicitly state:
  • Problem background/motivation: <fill in text>
  • Particular problem that you're trying to solve: <fill in text>
  • Taste of past solutions: <text>
  • Your proposed solution and how it's different from past attempts: <text>
  • Your target users: <fill in text>
  • Evaluation metrics: <fill in text>
  • References: <fill in text>

If you are not solving a specific problem in particular but, instead, creating a new kind of game or exploratory interaction, then adapt the above accordingly.

Example Elevator Pitch

Here’s an example ~220 word “elevator pitch” for a project on water sensing and feedback to encourage water conservation in the home:

Empowering Home Owners to Use Less Water through Better Information
<my university id here>
Cities across the world are facing an escalating demand for potable water due to growing populations, higher population densities and warmer climates [2]. As new sources of water become more environmentally and economically costly to extract, water suppliers and governments are shifting their focus from finding new supplies to using existing supplies more efficiently [3]. One challenge in improving residential efficiency, however, is the lack of awareness that occupants have about their in-home water consumption habits. This disconnect makes it difficult, even for motivated individuals, to make informed decisions about what steps can be taken to conserve [1]. In this project, we propose a new type of feedback mechanism for residential water consumption that leverages emerging sensors that monitor water usage at individual fixtures with only one or a few low-cost sensors [2]. Unlike past water usage feedback systems which only provide one number per month on consumption (e.g., a water bill), our system provides real-time feedback on all water fixture usages across the home via a live HTML5 website that can be viewed on mobile phones or traditional web browsers. Our system promises to better inform residents about wasteful water usage practices (e.g., leaky toilets) and to reduce overall water consumption in the home.
References
  1. Froehlich, J. (2011). Sensing and Feedback of Everyday Activities to Promote Environmental Behaviors. Doctoral dissertation. University of Washington, Seattle.
  2. Froehlich, J., Larson, E., Saba, E., et al. (2011). A Longitudinal Study of Pressure Sensing to Infer Real-World Water Usage Events in the Home. Pervasive’11; 50-69
  3. Glennon, R. (2009). Unquenchable: America’s Water Crisis and What to Do about It. Island Press
  4. Inman, D., & Jeffrey, P. (2006). A Review of Residential Water Conservation Tool Performance and Influences on Implementation Effectiveness. Urban Water J., 3(3):127-143.

Analyzing the Example Pitch

If you break down the above pitch statement into parts, you get:

Title: A succinct text capturing the idea of the pitch itself.

Problem background/motivation: Cities across the world are facing an escalating demand for potable water due to growing populations, higher population densities and warmer climates [2]. As new sources of water become more environmentally and economically costly to extract, water suppliers and governments are shifting their focus from finding new supplies to using existing supplies more efficiently [3].

More specific problem statement: One challenge in improving residential efficiency, however, is the lack of awareness that occupants have about their in-home water consumption habits. This disconnect makes it difficult, even for motivated individuals, to make informed decisions about what steps can be taken to conserve [1].

Proposed solution: In this project, we propose a new type of feedback mechanism for residential water consumption that leverages emerging sensors that monitor water usage at individual fixtures with only one or a few low-cost sensors [2].

Differentiation to past solutions: Unlike past water usage feedback systems which only provide one number per month on consumption (e.g., a water bill), our system provides real-time feedback on all water fixture usages across the home via a live HTML5 website that can be viewed on mobile phones or traditional web browsers.

Who benefits and why: By providing much more temporal and granular data than ever before possible, our system promises to better inform residents about wasteful water usage practices (e.g., leaky toilets)
and to reduce overall water consumption in the home.

Evaluation metric:
...reduce overall water consumption in the home.

Deliverables

Please email the following to meethu@cs.umd.edu by Tuesday Feb 4 at 9:30 am

  1. A scanned or otherwise digital version of your brainstorm list. You should have at least 10 ideas (I expect more like 20).
  2. Your two elevator pitches on separate documents. Do NOT put your name on the document directly. Instead, put your university id below your title. You must submit your two project pitches in two separate documents. In addition, you must NOT put your name below the project pitch title. Instead, use your university student id#.