Blog Posts

Beginning the Prototype! (10/30/20)

After months of research, planning, and preparation, the team has begun development of a prototype. This prototype will be very simple: it will contain the finalized UI and incorporate simple weather API functions into the design. One of the main focuses for this first Sprint is to convey the weather radar information in a non-visual way.

This week, each team member created a very simple app with a button and a functionality associated with that button. We each presented to our coach during the meeting. The purpose of this was to have us start researching how to develop for React Native, and to promote us to continue to learn.

Our goals for the next week are clearly laid out. The group will meet so that components of Minor Report 2 can be assigned to each team member. This is to ensure that the report is completed in a timely manner and time can be spent on revising. The team will also meet to discuss final ideas for the UI. We are going to present drawings to the other members to get their input, and to see if our designs adhere to the design principles previously researched for accessible app design. Once we narrow down these ideas to just one, we will update our app to demonstrate the new UI, add a little placeholder functionality to each component, and present the app to our liaison and coach in the following meeting.

A Successful Presentation and Building a Prototype (10/23/20)

We did it! After hours of practicing our presentation and revising the script and report, we finally presented to the sponsor and it turned out great. The sponsor was very pleased with our progress and our vision for the app. They gave us some great feedback that we are going to incorporate immediately. This included some UI tweeks so that it is more user-friendly for sighted and low-vision users while still maintain the integrity of the blind user experience. They also recommended us rearrange our Sprints so that certain goals are tackled earlier on.

Now that the PDR presentation and report are not behind us, we are beginning to develop our prototype for our first Sprint. For this week, each of us are going to indepentently develop a basic app with a very simple UI just to get our feet wet in React Native. We are going to have this done by this Thursday, and from there we are going to formally assign jobs to each of us. From here on out we are going to finish collecting weather API information and begin figuring out how to incorporate the information into our app.

This first sprint is going to focus on getting a navigable UI. We are going to lay the groundwork for the rest of the app, which includes integrating the weather API and designing around accessibility. During this Sprint, we are also going to start incorporating some basic weather information from the API. This is to get ourselves familiar with how the information is given to us and how we can work with it. There’s a lot of work to do now, but we are all very eager to start!

PDR peer review and report (10/16/20)

This week involved a lot of hard work from each member of the team. Starting from the past weekend each member began working on splitting up the requirements for the PDR presentation. Each member finished their part, added it to the team slideshow, and rehearsed their part. This was all in preparation for the peer review. The feedback gained from the peer review was extremely helpful in perfecting the presentation for the sponsor. Our main criticism was that our slides were too crowder, and the pictures were low quality. We promptly went in and revised our parts by adding highlights to the main points, reduced the amount of words on each slide, imported higher quality images, split up crowded slides, and added animations to improve the watching experience. We are quite proud of our new presentation, and we will begin practicing together this weekend. We were also able to schedule a meeting time with the sponsor company to present to them.

Our other main priority this week was creating the PDR report. This report is the culmination of all of our work so far this semester. Again, each team member was in charge of different parts, and once we completed each part we would combine it into a main document. However, this wasn’t enough to ensure that the report flowed well. Once all of the components of the report were added, we read over the report and fixed grammer and spelling issues as well as reorderd the structure so that it flowed better.

For the next week we wil continue to practice the presentation. We want to make sure that the sponsor company can rely on us to deliver high quality work. We will also continue to work on learning React Native and finalizing the weather API we will go with. At this point, we will begin developing a functional prototype for the end of the semester.

Preparing for the PDR presentation (10/9/20)

Work has started on creating the PDR. This began with work on the minor report. The team worked together to get each of the pieces done and merge them into the final document cohesively.

We compiled a literature review that focused on what the industry is currently doing to design applications that are accessible to blind and low-vision users. This research has shown us multiple design philosophies that have been proven to be successful accessible app development. We learned optimal ways position components of the app on the screen so that they are most accessible, as well as how to design the app navigation experience so that it flows intuitively.

We composed multiple design concepts given this new information. We ranked them on multiple conditions to better understand the path that we want to take the app. These designs were evalutaed on metrics that would judge how successful they would be in practial use.

In the next coming week the team will continue to contact the weather API companies for more information on their services, and we will draft our report based on feedback from our coach and liaison to start preparing for the PDR. Once this draft is completed, we will compile all the necessary information to prepare the PDR. We are currently deciding what day is going to be best to present the PDR to the company.

Learning how to make an app! (10/2/20)

This week was a pretty eventful one. Now that React Native has been finalized as our development environment, each team member has started working on creating their own app. We’ve begun researching into how to develop for this environment, and we’re getting a feel for its intricacies. This experience is gonna help us make the eventual development of our weather app smoother.

We’ve continued to research into the accessibility options that iOS and Android offer. This is gonna help us to tailor our app more effectively towards the blind and low-vision community. Furthermore, we’ve begun looking into other accessible apps and how they’ve gone about being low-vision friendly. This is giving us a lot of useful information for making our app as intuitive and effective as possible.

Not everything has been completely easy though. In researching weather API options we’ve found that some of the companies either don’t disclose their full prices or don’t describe the full extent of their feature set. For the next few weeks we’re going to be contacting these companies to get a better understanding of what they can offer us. We will relay this information to the liaison for their approval. Other than that, we are going to continue to do research and plan out the scope of the project for the next coming weeks.

Module 4 Status Update

This week, we decided on our final team name and logo, and we finalized compiling the different weather APIs to consider. This information is awaiting approval from the liason. We have also begun assembling a list of potential risks that we’d encounter during development. Several key decisions for the weather app have been finalized and we established plans for the upcoming week. We settled on React Native as our cross-platform mobile development environment.

Our plans for the next week include researching the accessibility options for Android devices, researching our app’s integration of the weather APIs that we are considering, and begin formulating the project roadmap. For the next couple of weeks, each of us will also be developing our own, small-scale apps to familiarize ourselves with React Native.