The highlight of this week for our theme was the trip to Alibaba HQ in Hangzhou.

A brief introduction to what we are doing: We are tasked to design a smart home product for the local market using Tmall Genie (Alibaba’s smart speaker) and IoT technology to solve or alleviate some problems faced by society today.

The purpose of the trip was to understand what Alibaba wants from us and how we can start scoping out a problem so that we can start planning and designing. We spent 4 hours learning and conversing with the Alibaba design staff about their design process.

The most important takeaway was to constantly question the question. For example, if our problem was: How and when can we use Tmall Genie to help the elderly in the aspects of loneliness and safety while they are alone at home? Throughout the design and prototyping process, we will often make alterations to the question and if the problem becomes easier or we lose purpose in the problem, we should just discard it and come up with a new one. However, if the problem we have crafted changes to be more complex and interesting to us, it is worth solving and designing a product to solve that problem or question.

After the trip, we went to the Alibaba mall to take a look at the different versions of Tmall Genie. It was an eye-opener to see how they can be used in different places in the home and we really hope we can expand the uses of Tmall Genie. Some of the cool applications of their smart speakers were incorporated into make-up mirrors and television watching. We are eager and looking forward to the task ahead after this short trip.


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