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Rapid prototyping | hackathons

Rapid Prototyping: examples from two hackathons

0.1 IDEO Makeathon

Project Context

I was selected from over 800 applicants to participate in a one day makeathon run by the IDEO Colab. Participants were arranged into teams of four and given a design challenge anchored in a particular technology and service domain. The goal was to explore new use cases for new or future technologies and develop a low-fidelity prototype to pitch science fair style by the end of the day. 

  • Design prompt: Design a new user experience for a product that enhances trust in the mobility system using blockchain technology
  • TeamHumphrey ObuobiJohn Stillman, Genevieve Ennis
  • Personal contribution: Ideation, concept development, story boarding, animation for prototype, pitch deck 
  • Tools & techniques used: Adobe Illustrator, AfterEffects, InVision, rapid protoyping, personas
  • Project timeline: 8 hours, November 2016

Initial Ideation
No one on our team was familiar with blockchain technology, so we spent time researching the technology, how it worked, and exploring existing use cases. Once we had a basic grasp on the concept of blockchains, we began brainstorming the types of mobility that may be interesting to address. Given the recent news of the refugee crisis in Syria, we quickly coalesced around exploring mobility across boarders and started with the following questions:

  • How might we use blockchains to improve mobility at borders for refugee populations?
  • How might we use  blockchains connect dispersed refugee families to each other?
  • How might we use blockchains to improve mobility for refugees after arriving in a new home country?

Refining the concept
In order to help us better understand the dynamics of crossing boarders we created a few personas and imagined user journeys from the perspective of the refugee, the government, and NGOs that may be aiding refugees. We mapped out the types of data that may be required at various steps of the process and what needs, beyond data, a refugee may have during this process. After exploring various scenarios, we decided that the verification of a refugee's identity in the new host country was the point in the system with the most friction and opportunity to improve.  


Our Solution: Roots

A biometric passport that verifies identity though the blockchain to help refugees cross borders faster - until they can return to their roots or build new ones.

Verifying the identity of refugees is one of the most challenging, time consuming, and risky aspects for a host country.  This is often made worse by the fact that a refugee's country of origin may not have a functioning government or the refugee may not have been able to bring documents along that would help verify their identity. Refugees are often left in limbo for an average of 18 months.

Roots helps both the refugee and the host country by integrating biometric, location, and social connection data to validate the identity of each refugee. 



The more information that is added and verified the within the blockchain system, the higher a refugee's Roots score and the greater confidence in their identity. Roots could be used to reinforce governmental identity systems or as a supplement to it.  

In addition to the data captured as part of the initial prototype, Roots could also integrate with other forms of digital identities such as social media accounts and online purchase histories and established institutional accounts such as health records or bank accounts to create a more robust validation of identity. 



0.2 Food// Tech Connect: Hack Meat Silicon Valley 


Project Context 

Hack//Meat Silicon Valley was a hackathon that brought together 250 food industry leaders, entrepreneurs, technologists and creatives at the Stanford to develop hardware and software solutions to sustainable meat challenges. Six design challenges were proposed by the hackathon sponsors (Applegate, Natural Resources Defense Fund (NRDC), Butcher’s Guild, American Grassfed Association, James Beard Association, Niche Meat Processors Assistance Network), and participants self-selected into groups in order to brainstorm and prototype a concept to pitch the following day.

  • Design Prompt - Presented by Applegate: How can the next generation of farmers meet growing demand for sustainably-produced meat?
  • Team: Kerry Cebul, Trey Shelton, Deedy Das
  • Personal Contribution: Ideation, concept development, software spec documentation, pitch deck,  presentation
  • Project timeline: 1 day, June 2013
  • Recognition: Awarded Best Use of ESRI Data

Our solution: Find Pasture

A platform that allows farmers to identify suitable land to buy, lease or share using deep data analytics based on type of animal they are looking to raise

There is a growing demand for responsibly raised meat, but the supply can't keep up. The existing population of farmers is aging, and while there is a new generation of farmers that want to farm sustainability, they often don't have the land or financial resources to do so. 

On the flip side, there is land that is under utilized. Land owners that have unused land are often unaware of opportunities to make their land productive and don't have access to a network of vetted farmers. 

When young farmers go to look for land the information is fragmented. They may be able to find parcels that are for sale, but there is not detailed information about the land's suitability to their farming needs. Land leasing or sharing agreements have been successful for some small farmers, but these arrangements are often made serendipitously and hard to replicate within existing systems. 


Find Pasture is a solution that is a combination of Zillow & tailored specifically for young farmers to find land & land owners. The web application brings together geospatial, land use, soil type, weather, and public parcel data to analyze and recommend land to prospective young farmers. The solution also incorporates community data, such as proximity to other farmers and availability of nearby slaughter houses, because we heard from farmers that the ecosystem of support and related services can be almost as important as the land when starting a new farm. 

Once the application reaches scale, the platform could be used to develop regionally anchored marketplaces for buyers of farm products. The marketplace could expand include suppliers and financial services, and potentially allow for equipment sharing between farmers on the platform.