iStrategyBlabs

Meet Dorothy: Click Your Heels To Summon An Uber, Call Your Phone, Or Text Your Friends!

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Have you ever been stuck in an awkward situation, praying your phone would ring so you could politely extract yourself?  Of course you have.  That’s why we made Dorothy, a physical trigger that makes any dumb shoe smart. Dorothy consists of the “Ruby” (a small connected device that slips into your shoe) and a mobile App that allows you to trigger a call to your phone from a fake contact (your “boss”) whenever you tap your heels together 3 times. Dorothy can also send text messages to your contacts with a custom message and your current location, letting them know exactly where you are. Soon, we’ll be working toward summoning an Uber. What else can Dorothy do?  You tell us… we’re just getting started! See it in action here:

Dorothy from iStrategyLabs on Vimeo.

How It Works:

Dorothy is powered by the LightBlue Bean, an Arduino micro-controller with a built in Bluetooth chip, accelerometer, and coin cell battery. Simply clip the “Ruby” into your shoe, connect it to the Dorothy iPhone App, and select your desired action after a successful trigger (3 heel clicks). The onboard accelerometer sends a signal to your phone via Bluetooth (listening for spikes in the data over a short period of time).

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The App: The iOS application was built in Objective-C and uses the Bean iOS SDK. Using AFNetworking we contact a small Node server that hits the Twilio API to trigger the appropriate action (a call to your phone or a text to your friends).

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Components: The Ruby consists of three main components, the 3D printed housing, a laser cut acrylic faceplate, and the LightBlue Bean. The Ruby’s housing was modeled using a CAD program and designed to mimic the naturally occurring facets of a gemstone, while maintaining a compact form factor (currently measuring 1.35” x 0.88” x 0.35”).

(NOTE: While this is our initial prototype — we’re currently exploring models as small as 1/3rd of its current size, potentially built into an insole…).

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Fabrication: The Ruby’s housing was 3D printed and carefully finished to remove any ridges and imperfections. Self-setting rubber (Sugru) was then pressed through the stenciled logo on the front face of the enclosure, adding additional color and tactility. The LightBlue Bean was placed inside the housing and covered with a thin laser-etched acrylic faceplate, and finally, a flexible clip was attached.

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What’s next? While in the near future we’ll be able to trigger actions like ordering an Uber to your geo-coordinates, or automatically order your favorite pizza — we’d love to hear your ideas. Let us know the most exciting actions/outputs and we just might make you a custom Dorothy of your very own… HOLLER AT US!

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DoubleTree App Redesign: Behind The Scenes

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DoubleTree Hotels first approached us in 2013 to redesign Home & Away, their app that acts as a concierge for business travelers staying at DoubleTree properties. When we initially looked into redesigning the app, we wanted to stay close to the core strategy.

The concept is simple: tell the app which bank, gas station, coffee shop, pharmacy, rental car, etc. that you, as an individual, prefer, and the app will effortlessly map your brand preferences around your hotel.

That core mission has stayed the same, but DoubleTree enlisted us to redesign the app once again this year based on updates to iOS. After research, design, and user testing, we were able to completely revamp the app with added functionality and a greatly improved user experience. The following is a look at the key features we updated.  You can also head over to the app store to check it out.DoubleTree iOS7 iPad App Design

The Map

The original app featured a map with an omnipresent sidebar allowing the user to select their favorite brands for each of the available categories (banks, pharmacies, etc). Once selected, the app will remember your favorite brands no matter which hotel you’re searching from. For the redesign, we wanted to make the map even larger — after testing it was revealed that the main area of interaction was the map, and we were losing a lot of space to the wood-grain texture. We designed a slide-away tray that is accessible from the icon menu, hiding the brand favorites tray when not in use, creating a more immersive experience. We’ve also pulled in search results from Yelp, so if  users are looking for something that’s not featured in one of the sidebar categories, they’re able to search the map for anything they can dream up. DoubleTree iOS7 iPad App Design

The Styling

The wood grain was warm and inviting, but took up a large amount of real estate on the main map screen. During the redesign we were able to take advantage of the advances made in increased interface familiarity, removing the wood texture and skeuomorphic buttons in favor of a minimally-styled side and top bar. We also added a plethora of animations to the app to enhance the character of an otherwise lightly designed interface. To display the favorites bar, the user swipes their finger to the right on an icon. You can check out all of these new features by downloading the app today.

DoubleTree iOS7 Updates from iStrategyLabs on Vimeo.

The Size

One of our client’s goals was to reduce the size of the app, which in its original version featured images of each of their  370+ hotels in 32 countries across 6 continents, leading to a gigantic app. Size is a huge factor in apps, because large apps lead to longer download times. We removed the images from the app, reducing the size from about 300MB to just 30mb. DoubleTree iOS7 iPad App Design

This decision mainly impacted the hotel selector screen, because the first version of the app each hotel was shown with its own photos. The photos looked beautiful, but were not a necessity for the app experience. In the new version, the hotel selector screen has been reworked to allow the content to come to the forefront. DoubleTree iOS7 iPad App Design

The Hotel Selector

The hotel selector screen has been changed dramatically as well. On scroll, the title bar fades away and the hotel tiles take over the screen, featuring a slight color fade as the rows of hotels slide by. Our hypothesis was that users are not interested in photos of the hotel. Presumably, users are already staying at a DoubleTree hotel; when they’re scrolling, they’re looking for a specific hotel location. Listing the hotels alphabetically and offering a pleasing color fade allows the user to scroll at will and without distraction. The app also offers a search based on text or current location. DoubleTree iOS7 iPad App Design

Testing & Iteration

In early rounds of testing, we realized that users were confused about the goal of the app, especially in relation to the DoubleTree brand. We recognized this as a huge problem, and came up with an elegant two-fold solution to teach our users about the benefits of the app. When the app is launched, the user is met with a welcome screen, a short description of the app, and a large button that entices them to “explore” the map. When they enter the map view for the first time, they’ll see a brief three part tutorial, complete with an animation. The tutorial explains how to use the app and then drops off the screen. In our second round of testing, we saw that although the tutorial worked well for some, about half the users swiped through the tutorial without reading it and were still confused. So, we added one last cue to help our eager users — a one-time interface hint that pops up to guide the user through their first interactions in the app. They can tap the bubble to be walked through the action, or perform the action on their own to get rid of the cue. Our last round of testing was highly successful. All of our cues did the trick, and users were having a great time navigating around the app. The animations were a big hit, delivering a surprise dose of fun for people who might otherwise not be so happy (if they’re on a business trip).

Check out the app in the App Store today!

DoubleTree Home and Away App

The Facebook “Mentions Box” Goes Live At The Emmy Awards

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Facebook, already the biggest brand in social media, was looking for a better way to bridge the gap between celebrities and fans, specifically at live events. Behold: The Facebook “Mentions Box” which just debuted at the 2014 Emmy’s — allowing celebrities to “shake” the device to surface a fan question (pulling directly from the event’s Facebook Page) and immediately record a video response back.

At the Emmys, the Mentions Box was used by everyone from Jimmy Fallon, to Matthew McConaughey, to Ty Burrell and Jason Biggs — to stars from Game of Thrones, Orange Is the New Black, and HBO’s Silicon Valley (see below!).

Matthew McConaughey - Mentions Box

After many discussions, brainstorms, and rapid prototyping efforts focused on how to best represent the Facebook platform in physical space, we landed on a simple concept drawing inspiration from mediums people already know and enjoy (landing on something between a Magic 8-Ball in function and an Etch-A-Sketch in form).

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Ultimately, we settled on a tablet encased in a polycarbonate form factor, with a luxury car finish.

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We started the process by concepting potential types of physical devices that talent would be able to easily (and quickly) interact with — using cardboard and simple materials to play around with various form factors.

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The admin console (primarily a question moderation tool) sources questions from specific Facebook posts and then pushes approved questions straight to The Facebook Mentions Box.

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Leading up to the Emmy’s, The Mentions Box was featured on Access Hollywood by hosts Billy Bush and Shaun Robinson:

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More pics of the Mentions Box in action, straight from the Access Hollywood Facebook Page!

 

 

 

 


Update
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On September 5th, Facebook teamed up with Stand Up To Cancer to utilize the Mentions Box to connect celebrities with donors supporting the live charity event.

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BeardSwipe: April Fool’s 2014 Recap

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BeardSwipe is the greatest invention since beards made men. It is revolutionizing mobile accessibility and security. It is an app that allows you to store your unique Beardprint using patented Beardprint Recognition Technology (BRT) to create a safe and convenient way of accessing your phone: by swiping your phone on your full and luscious beard.

BeardSwipe is also an April Fool’s stunt.

The iStrategyLabs team put together a full user experience to ensure the prank was completely believable. Users arrived at a striking single-page website that elegantly communicated the full offering of the BeardSwipe app. The site drove users to a marketing video, featuring many of our bearded and not-so-bearded team members. When users clicked the Download The App button they were taken to the iStrategyLabs website and informed that they had been pranked.

A full social media campaign on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram was created to support the stunt and drove over 75,000 site views, over 75,000 video views and 5.75 million Twitter impressions. The campaign was featured in VentureBeat, Huffington Post, and ABC News.

Fake Mobile App Screens:

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Landing Page:

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Highlights from Media Coverage:

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Video Stats:

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Website Stats:

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Twitter Impressions:

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Take An Instant Selfie With This Magical Mirror

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Meet S.E.L.F.I.E., the “The Self Enhancing Live Feed Image Engine”. Triggered by simply standing in front of the mirror and holding a smile, hidden LED’s indicate a countdown, then simulate a “flash” as your photo is taken. The photo is then automatically posted to Twitter (with a watermark/logo).

Find out how it works and see it in action:

A MacMini powers the facial recognition software:

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The LEDs (controlled by an Arduino) visualize the countdown timer:

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All components are hidden behind the 2-way mirror:

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A custom vinyl graphic on the floor let’s you know exactly where to stand:

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Want one for yourself? Have some ideas for our next experiment?  Hit us up!