The ACM Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI) series of academic conferences is considered to be the most prestigious in the field of user-experience and human-computer interaction. This year’s (CHI 2011) challenge for student design competition was:
"Design an object, interface, system, or service intended to help us appreciate our differences. "
We are proposing Cowabunga!, a mobile application which augments multi-cultural exchanges instigated by an online hospitality exchange community called CouchSurfing.org (CS). By facilitating chance meetings that would not happen otherwise, our solution is helping people get spontaneous exposure to others with whom they may have nothing in common except their CS membership. Cowabunga! has been created through an iterative user-centered design process and bears a great potential of promoting diversity. The feedback we received suggested that such a complement to the CS platform is both interesting and has novel utility and is thus conducive to increasing cross-cultural awareness.
As the team lead for this project, I was responsible for literature review, running a Facebook ad campaign for recruiting couchsurfing community members, co-ordinating with couchsurfers from six countries for scheduling interviews and testing, creating low-fidelity and mid-fidelity prototypes conforming to Android interaction paradigm, conducting remote usability tests followed by data analysis. I played a key role in the group exercises of affinity diagramming, scenario creation and user interviews.