Marcos Meng
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Design Challenge (Zappos)

This is a design challenge I did for my first interview at Zappos. I was given 24 hours to complete the challenge.

 

Design Prompt

You and your friends are ready and set for a full day of fun at this year's biggest music festival. Half way into the day, you somehow get split up from the group. Unfortunately you’ve been taking pictures and posting them to social media all day long, and your phone is on the brink of dying. Being at a music festival, the venue provides very little to no cell reception to begin with and you’ve neglected to agree on any rendezvous plans.

The challenge is to conceptualize and design a solution that helps others find their friends easily in similar situations.

 

The Problem & Users’ Needs

The context of music festive or other popular events such as parades and concerts makes finding missing friends and families extremely hard and frustrating - loud music, crowds, poor cell signal, etc. Events participants indeed need a solution to help them find the missing group members. An existing application called “FireChat” came to my mind - an application allows users to chat directly with WiFi and Bluetooth connection. It is the peer-to-peer model (it doesn’t require routers) makes it unique. Then I took a step further - what if there is an application that’s not only allowing two users to connect and chat at a time, but also connecting multiple users, potentially hundreds or thousands of people, together at a time? People will be able to find their missing friends at events thanks to the broad network created by the application.

 

The Solution

Introducing WeFind, an application engages people to help you find your missing friends. It connects users in an area via WiFi Direct technology (which is a built-in feature in every smartphone), and the range for the technology is about 100 meters or 300 feet. WeFind users just need to leave their WiFi on, and it scans other users around the area and forward the information to all other nearby devices. So WeFind will be able to form a large network in the area, which is essential for finding people.

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Basic wireframe for WeFind.

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Users can easily turn the location sharing feature off from the home screen to protect their privacy when they don't need it.

WeFind users will be able to search by username and chat with their missing group members through the app without the need of a working cellular network.

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Messages send to the end user will be encrypted and delivered through the help of other users in the network, so users who are in the network but not the recipients will not have access to the messages and they will not be notified.

If a missing member’s phone is dying, users will have the ability to chat with people around the missing member (by finding the last “node” - users connect to the missing member directly) to locate him/her.

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WeFind also uses Bluetooth to locate users more accurately since it has a short range (about 10 meters or 30 feet). Once the users get into the bluetooth range phones from both ends will vibrate since it’s nearly impossible to hear the alarm sound in loud public places.

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