Life is all about design.

Visit to Alibaba HQ

We had our long awaited first visit to the Alibaba HQ last Sunday to have a workshop with some of their project managers discussing concepts of design thinking before going in 3 case studies to try understand the problems. We started off with giving our impressions of smart home products and categorizing them into top 3 good and bad impressions. We came up with 3 themes of unnatural, interaction and smart. With that we created a scenario for each theme where we felt the theme fits.

Three scenarios, the first being lack of sleep by teenagers, second being the lack and unequal expression of love and concern to kindergarten students by teachers and lastly the loneliness felt by elderly in rural areas. My group tackled the one on expressing concern for the elderly in rural areas. Our initial study entails that most of these elderly have a routine lifestyle, mainly responsible for taking care of grandchildren and seldom have any interests or hobbies of their own. Most of their children and grandchildren are busy with work in the cities and only visits a couple of times every year.

This is an interesting issue because it is quite similar to what some elderly are facing in Singapore except that we are a smaller nation so we can combat it with community centers or subsidized housing for purchasing new apartments closer to parents for newlyweds. This issue is critical because the emotional aspect can make them prone to other physical or financial threats like phone scams.

We had to base each problem on the possibility of solving it with a smart speaker which was the smart home product we need to engage with as part of our constraints. Several products have been in the market but they often cross the line of privacy and are not well received by the elderly. Other feedbacks include feeling like a prisoner as they felt like being under scrutiny of the children all the time.

Such constraints made us realised we were focusing too much on the solution then the problem. However, it was a great start as we have gotten a much clearer sense of what we are targeting. We can have a better idea to plan for the interviews and things to look out for when we stayover the village during 14-16 June.

Final visit to Hushu Special School

During our final visit, we taught them simple dance moves from music like ‘Shark Dodo’ and a classic chinese song. We had students from age 7 up to even 15,16 year old. We have heard from our past visits that they particularly enjoyed dance sessions from our seniors who came the past few times and their excitement remained when we came third time for our dance session. The crowd was slightly hard to manage at first but the teachers were there to help and we felt at ease. There were many excited students who just were in their own dancing zones but the harder students to manage were those who did not want to dance. It took a lot of effort to reach out to them but the teachers just told us to leave them alone and focus on the rest instead. We had a really nice finale dance together where some of the more active ones went up on stage and danced with us too! We then gave each of them snacks and pencils as farewell gifts before having a final picture taken together. We definitely left this place with a lot of memory and we will not forget the experience felt. I always feel so amazed by the teachers’ abilities to handle the students and respect them so much. I especially will not forget this quote along an aisle of the school; “If you are employable, respect your job. If you’re not employable, respect life.” I will remember this for life. 

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