Written by Evert Gonzalez, Apps UX Innovation Labs Developer, Oracle MDC Office
Oracle OpenWorld is just around the corner and with it, the crowded halls, the conferences, the usability tests, the demos and of course all the fun. This year, Oracle OpenWorld is expecting 60,000 attendees from over 145 countries. For my team (Apps User Experience Innovation Labs), this means an incredible opportunity to display the projects we have been working on lately. The team has put a lot of effort and love in these projects; they reflect exactly Oracle's vision of simplicity, mobility and extensibility.
Behind all the fun at OpenWorld, there is a lot of hard work. For us (the developers), the preparation for OpenWorld starts months before. Most of our projects start the same way: with an idea. This idea is carefully analyzed with a lot of brainstorming, and usability tests are conducted until we reach a more polished and evolved idea. As we all know, a good user experience is an iterative process.
The original idea for one of the projects that will be demoed this year at OpenWorld was taken from the first place winning entry in the IoT hackathon in MDC (Oracle’s Mexico Development Center in Guadalajara) in May. Laurie Pattison thought we should pursue the concept and create an improved version of it. The idea of the winning team (Mariachis team - Jayson Webb, Rafael Belloni, Carlos Garibay, Juan Carlos Alejandre & Cristina Valdes) was really simple: "Improve a warehouse employee’s daily work by using IoT technologies." How? The Mariachis team created a simple system, using LEDs attached to a PVC tube to simulate a shelf. They also used 2 proximity sensors to detect the introduced items in the different bins (the items were boxes of different colors made of paper). Additionally they used a seven-segment display to indicate the number of items to take from the shelf.
Mariachis team - Winners of the IoT Hackathon in MDC
Usually in hackathons, participants have a limited amount of time to implement their ideas so the submitted entries are not flawless. Hackathon participants usually apply many workarounds in order to have something functional to demo. Therefore it is perfectly understandable that the final entry can be improved upon in many ways.
When we started working on this project, we met with the Mariachis team in order to understand how much we could leverage from their entry and what improvements we could make, taking into consideration user experience and technical implementation. After that, we continued to meet with the team to ensure we captured the essence of their project and continually enhanced it.
The most relevant improvements to the original project were:
Finally the project was beginning to take shape. We had the basic structure, but how could we present it in a simple and elegant way? Laurie and Erika thought it would be fun to create a warehouse using Lego blocks. We thought it was a clever idea and started with the creation of the Lego warehouse. We created a wood box to hide the cables attached to the LEDs and the Raspberry Pi, and we wrote a small script to automatically set up the Raspberry Pi when connected (plug and play).
The Lego Warehouse
Finally after all the hours of work it was time to bring our warehouse to Oracle headquarters. It's indescribable - all the emotion felt at the campus with all the teams gathered together, testing and showing their projects. There is always the pressure of the final test and the fear that something doesn't work properly. Actually we had some challenges setting up the warehouse, but in the end everything was successful. I believe that for a developer, there is nothing like the feeling of accomplishment after completing a project.
If you'll be at Oracle OpenWorld next week and would like to see this demo live and a lot of other great ideas we're working on in UX, please come to the UX Cloud Exchange on Monday between 1 and 7pm at the InterContinental Hotel. Note: You must pre-register for the event.