EXECUTIVE SUMMARY (998 with spaces) DesignSpace noticed ...

donkeyswarmMobile - Wireless

Nov 24, 2013 (4 years and 7 months ago)



(998 with spaces)

DesignSpace noticed that the time spent in a public transit commute is often a
wasted opportunity for fun.
Today I Learned

is a mobile
based interactive learning
application that seeks to transform our often
idle public transit trip into a dynamic
opportunity for fun, community development, and art. Users will be able to send 140
character SMS text (beginning with the words
oday I Learned
) to anonymously contact
other users of the app who are located at the same transit stop. Users will decide
whether a message is
, or
. Messages that are most

will get re
posted at the next stop,

nurturing a fertile learning environment.
The program will use a Twitter
like interface that uses the GPS already installed in
phones and buses to transmit text to other users.
Today I Learned

is a platform for
innovative and engaging user
generated conte
nt that can revolutionize public transit,
social media and platforms for learning. What did you learn today?


Project Description

Team DesignSpace is creating a free mobile application that anonymously
connects riders who are using th
e same bus or subway system.
Today I Learned

transforms the transit experience

often a wasted part of the daily routine

into a time
for learning. The application encourages individuals to discover new connections and
ideas by transforming this tedious ev
eryday task into an activity that is fun, interesting
and engaging. Our idea is innovative synthesizing and updating elements from other
apps to create new and innovative functionality.

Riders are invited to write a 140
character SMS message starting with

the words
“Today I Learned”, when waiting at a public transit stop or while aboard a train. The
rider receives a live feed of messages from other users in the same vicinity, and is able
to rate each message “interesting” or “uninteresting,” or mark it as
“offensive” (to
remove inflammatory or hateful messages). By employing these unique presets, the
application is by design primarily community
moderated. User ratings directly affect the
lifespan and visible reach of the message. The more people that rate a
n idea interesting,
the longer it remains visible to riders on the transit and the longer it will travel with
riders along transit routes. An idea marked as uninteresting by enough users would be
removed from the homepage display on riders’ phones. Learner
s will be able to view a
updating cascade of ideas on two pages: “new/fresh” and “most interesting”.

application will be available both as a downloadable mobile application and as a website
for premium accessibility. When a rider reaches a locati
on and transfers to a different
route, the rider brings all the ideas that he or she has deemed to be interesting on their
mobile device to the new transit route. These messages are added to the live feed of
new ideas presented to other riders in the new p
ublic transit vicinity he or she arrives
at. The program will also carry a reply function, whereby individuals can respond to
earlier posts. These responses are virtually stacked into “conversations,” and each new
reply adds time to the lifespan of the con
versation and to the distance travelled by the
original post.

Some of the most innovative and artistic elements of the program come from
the way that we visually present and map the movement of ideas. While users remain
anonymous, their ideas can be tracke
d and mapped. Computer users can see where
each message was posted and responded to, and what routes the message travelled
through the transit system. Commuters will be able to access a real
time visualization of
their own ideas, get meaningful information

on what ideas are interesting within the
transit community, and where said information has traveled. The website interface will
also allow users to click on a particular location to see what conversations are occurring
at that location at that moment. The
re are a range of visualization possibilities. Some
ideas include interactive colored maps with time of day, length of route, and source of
message as factors, among others. Website users will be able to search messages by
keyword, enabling them to discove
r niche communities, city wide. Large displays may
also engage nonparticipants. Other possibilities include mapping, analyzing and
experiencing the information through sound and other artistic media.

Product Differentiation: Fostering Accessible Microcommu

While there are similar applications on the market, our idea is innovative
because it combines the most successful components relevant to community
instant idea
sharing and visualization.
Today I Learned

synthesizes existing app elements
ith context aware mobile computing for new functionality. This synthesis is the real

utilizing the preexisting technologies of broad
casted SMS messaging, GPS
based network creation, and transit integration to create a platform for fun, educatio
and creative local discourse.

We have an amazing opportunity here: For the first time, people are embracing
new media that allow us to pool our efforts at vanishingly low cost. The results of this
aggregated effort range from mind
expanding referencing

tools like Wikipedia.
Additionally, social networking provides the opportunity to take social interaction to
deeper levels and address the possibility to explore new learning styles rooted in digital
suggests that the current generati
on of learners is “hardwired” to
simultaneously utilize multiple types of Web
based participatory media. They have
grown up with the Web, are “always
on,” and expect to utilize technology to learn

. Social networking media engages the user in the

content and allows them to
be included as an active participant as they construct a learning landscape

rooted in
social interaction, knowledge exchange, and optimum cognitive development with their

Online social
networking applications have proven

to be successful because they
provide an arena for a light
weight, easy form of communication. These factors enable
users to microblog and share information about their activities, opinions and status in
order to build their networks.

Twitter has had a re
volutionary effect on both how
people use their mobile devices and on the Internet landscape itself. Twitter has proven
that 140 characters allow communication of insights in easily and quickly digestible
chunks. However, Twitter has major limitations:

the platform is designed for
interacting with people or organizations that the user is already familiar with
2) for
users who wish to find new information or new contacts, the pool is just too vast

it is
difficult for Twitter users to even know wheth
er they are interacting with members of
their own city and 4) the demand to continuously generate content for followers often
leads to a descent into the banal and boring. In contrast, our application will be fuelled
collective creativity

r is a Facebook application that attempts to fill this void by fostering
communities of users in the same region who have similar interests. Unfortunately
interaction is limited to one
one messages. In contrast, messages sent on
Today I

would b
e shared with the entire micro
community of the user’s bus or train,
and visible to the whole world online. In addition, Blendr and a similar app called Electric

which creates pools of users based on what bar or restaurant they are

e used predominantly for dating. The fun we create will be much more
collaborative and driven by the desire to learn.

A new app called

has been in the news recently due to its use by the Occupy
Wall Street movement.

is an anonymous SMS
based mes
sage board that allows
users to decide how wide a radius around themselves they would like their messages
broadcast. Instead of hashtags, users use their location to filter what they see. By
narrowcasting to a limited range,

succeeds in creating a com
munity micro
forum in places where people have already congregated (conferences, lectures, sporting
events, and clubs) for common purpose.
Today I Learned

approaches micro
from a different perspective, embracing chance connections and ran
dom groups.
Messages that appear on users’ devices are not filtered by destination, nor filtered by
direction of travel

each station becomes a free
all, and messages can continue in
any direction, and can even double back.
Today I Learned

is about br
inging new ideas to
new people, while

is about keeping strangers out of the loop.

Based on interviews with transit users and specialists in the field, we can prove
that our idea will work and be attractive to users. While there are many similar popul
programs, none of them include the multiple features that will be implemented in

I Learned

The DesignSpace Vision

The problem that we hope to address with this phone app is boredom, wasted
time and lack of community interaction during a public t
ransit commute. Transit riders
are o
ften alienated from each other.
This problem exists largely because there is no
method to facilitate meaningful communities of people in transit. We hope that our
Today I Learned
, will take advantage of the untapped


the sheer
diversity of transit users who may be from
entirely different backgrounds.
These people
are connected only by the commonality of being in the same physical space. By
examining the possibilities of what can occur during one's
commute, we transform the
ride into something creative, interactive, fun and educational that fosters innovation
ough the sharing of knowledge.

This app

is intended to unite users with the common
goal of sharing interesting information, to making our ci
ties and communities stronger
through the communication of ideas. While this platform is accessible to all users, the
target audience is adults

we aim to show people who may not make enough time for
fun in their daily lives that they can find fun in unex
pected places.

Our project will contribute to a joy
ous and meaningful commute by: (
Encouraging the continuous sharing of knowledge and ideas thorough the creation of a
fun and anonymous platform. It will advance learning and exchange of ideas. (2)
ling interaction between strangers in order to create community and a forum for
discussion. Instead of feeling alienated, commuters will feel engaged with their fellow
travellers; (3) Fostering innovation and creativity by facilitating interaction between
people with di

lifestyles, perceptions and opinions and backgrounds; (4)
Transforming stereotypical perceptions of commuting as time wasting to make the
experience fun and educational, thereby encouraging people to use public transit rather
than perso
nal vehicles to create a more envi
ronmentally sustainable future.
“Fun” is an
incentive that would help encourage people to choose transit. Instead of associating
their commute with stress, boredom and isolation, they could have an enjoyable and

experience on transit. (5
) It also creates art. T
he visualizations of the ideas
create accessible art by illustrating the movement of information in real time. These
visualizations will show the tangle of opinions present in the city, and how citizens
eract with that information. Computer users can see not only what ideas are
widespread, but at what transit stop these ideas originated. The visuals demonstrate the
ways in which knowledge and ideas travel in collective decision
making processes.
y, live displays of idea maps could augment the application to engage others.

Ultimately, we hope to contribute to a world that is fun, informative and
environmentally friendly. If successfully implemented, we hope to implement this
application on transit
systems in different languages all over the world.

Preparation to Advance for Implementation

In preparing for this round of the competition, we have refined our concept in
consultation with a range of potential users as well as technical, community,
and marketing experts. We have also collected more data on the potential market,
comparable projects and the experience of other start ups working on transit related
applications, games and crowd

Potential Market:
In order to work throug
h the preliminary business plan, we used

Canada as a case study. However, the application has the potential
to be

introduced anywhere there is a public transit system with mobile communications.

Toronto is a large metropolitan area with more than 3 million inhabitants. The
population is highly diverse

almost 50% were born outside the country

fertile ground for unique and interesting perspectives.

Currently, the Toronto Transit Commi

has the third largest number
of riders
in North America a
fter Mexico City and New York.
The TTC has almost half a billion
riders per year

about 1.5 million per day

and generates $18 m. per year in advertising
revenues on almost $1b in passenger far
es, (1.8%)
(TTC, 2011).

On a daily basis, Go
Transit reports 217,000 passengers
per day on trains and busses
(more than 70,000,000
fares annually).
On a daily basis, the Total potential commuters is about 1.7 million
people per day
Canada has one of the
highest rates of penetration of mobile phones in
the world



2010, Statistics Canada estimated the household
penetration rate of cellphones to be 78 % (CRTC, 2011).

In Toronto about 577,000 or 12 % of the population are in the 18

25 yea
r age
group, the heaviest users of internet, social media and mobile communications. A

or 31%
are in the 25
44 year old age group
Currently Go Transit, the
system that links outlying communities to hubs via rapid trains have mobile
mmunications and has recently introduced context aware computing to provide
directions to mobile users (Go Transit, Sept, 2011). The Toronto Transit Commission
operates above ground trains, buses and streetcars with mobile access and has
announced plans to

also offer wireless to subway users
. Extrapolating we estimate that
the prime market for using our application would be 43% of the TTC and Go Transit
riders. Initially we would expect to capture 2
3 % of this segment or about 1% of the
overall ridership


17,000 per day.


average transit user in large Canadian metropolitan areas spends 44 minutes
(Stats Canada, 2011) Long commuting times are associated with higher levels of
and reduced satisfaction and create the ideal environment for our ap
Locally, Toronto
transit riders want to connect with each other. For example, the Toronto
“t.o.night newspaper” accepts anonymous "shout
outs" for free that they print into the
back page of their magazines. These pages have been appropriated by G
(Ontario’s inter
regional transit system) users. “There is a community riding the GO
Train and they want to interact with each other,” local journalist Peter Kuitenbrowuer
writes. If transit users are engaging with each other through delayed pri
nt media, it is a
strong indication of potential interest in our real time app

In order to better understand user needs we undertook a simple survey and
interviews with 80 transit users in the target demographic

which confirmed a high level
of interest in

the target market segment.

Sources of Revenue
Based on our preliminary consultations, we have identified several
potential revenue streams which would ensure that the applications was financially self
: (1)
Public transit provider might sponsor

the application as a value added
option for travelling on public transportation

A philanthropic organization might
sponsor the application in the interests of
promoting public transportation (3)
might pay to download the app ($.99)
tions might pay for:
when you log into the app
Corporate mentions on the in
person ads that promote the
Prizes or giveaways offered to people using the app (eg. The originator of the idea
that trav
els the furthest in a given day) and/o
r m
arket research data.

Based on our preliminary analysis, if we engaged 1% of TTC travellers and
attracted the equivalent of 1% of TTC advertising ($180,800) plus app fees the project
could break even in about 18 months
By year 2 we would expect to have
penetration. More work is needed to develop the financial plan.

Future Prospects
: Not only does the app present many opportunities to bring meaning
and fun

to transit
, while creating opportunities that benefit and celebrate the
. It can

lay the ground for new and innovative creative projects. For
example, DesignSpace intends to collaborate with local community members, trade
unions, and large
scale art events such as the popular Nuit Blanche to develop projects
or artistic works based on
the types of information and ideas shared by the commuters.
Once the application is proven in our initial market, it can be expanded to other transit
systems. The software is not just restricted to developed countries. Though easier on
more sophisticated
transit systems, the widespread cell phone usage in many
developing countries creates the ability to implement this technology in other contexts.
Once implemented it also provides a network of users for introducing new applications.

Technical Feasibility:

This proposed application combines components of existing
technologies in a new way. Context aware mobile computing provides a platform for
adapting content ba
sed on the location of a user.
Metrolinx, which operates above
ground commuter lines
GO Transits

first official mobile application, GO Mobile an
application eliminates the need for paper schedules, locates the nearest station,
bookmarks frequently travelled routes, alerts users when they are approaching their
station and provides real
time track
l information from Union Station

and TTC is
expected to follow suit.
Metrolinx paid $500,000 for the development of the
application. This application builds on technology developed by

a context aware
computing application which has been implemente
d in the Paris Metro

Dr. Rahmana is
the Research Director of Ryerson’s Digital Media Zone, an accelerator aimed at students
and recent graduates
, led the development of these projects and we have consulted
with him and other computer scientists on our app

Today I learned

will also employ elements of
context aware computing as well as

an approach which allows users to share and rank ideas. Finally, the
application will incorpora
te elements of digital mapping.
We have also consulted
several computer scientists to better understand the technical dimensions of a working
system, as well as artists
with ideas for creating a compelling user experience
. Based on
their input we have developed a conceptual model for the application.

user experience is key to the success of this app. Our team has been
designing initial sketches of what the app could look like. We have been collaborating
with artists and computer programmers to design a visual prototype that is functional,
accessible an
d aesthetically appealing. We have done research on technical
implementation channels as well, such as Google App Engine, which allows start
developers to build and host web applications on the same system that hosts google
applications at no cost.

visualizations we will incorporate into our application appeal to the creative
user. They allow for both experienced artists and everyday users to explore the
possibility of mapping the movement of their ideas in unique and innovative ways.
While we will p
artner with digital media artists in order to produce beautiful maps that
will be built into the application, we aim to make all of the data collected by our
application publicly available for other users. The final element is that it is community
d through its uniquely integrated rating system.

Potential Partners and Advisors:

e have obtained advice and input from a wide range
of stakeholders with experience in different aspects of the technical, operational,
marketing, community and artistic dime
nsions of the project. To date we have
presented our preliminary concept to a range of experts including:

Dr. Hossain Rahmana, Director, Digital Media Zone, Founder Flybits who has
implemented transit applications; Jutta Trevianus, Director of Inclusive De
sign Research
Centre, Ontario College of Art and Design; Hussain Al Marshi, Mongrel Media; Wendy
Cukier, Vice President, Research and Innovation, Ryerson University; Marion McKenzie,
CEO, GCI (A communications company); Sean Wise, Assistant Professor,
epreneurships and Founder Wise Consulting.We have also identified a range of
potential investors and philanthropic sources such as the Digital Media and Learning
Grant from the MacArthur Foundation as well as Ryerson DMZ fellowships.

Looking Forward

t Plan
If we were to win the Grand Prize, the money will be invested into
developing a functioning version of the program. The prize money would pay a
programmer to develop an app prototype and a website. We would simultaneously
apply for innovation grants for fu
nding and seek partnerships with programmers,
universities, and the public transportation system.
Based on consultations with other
start up companies and nonprofits headed by recent graduates working in the Digital
Media Zone, we estimate that it will tak
e us approximately six months, after winning the
competition, to refine the business case and complete a working prototype for the
program. Our goal would be to get access to the space and resources available in the
Ryerson Digital Media Zone in Toronto wh
ich also competitively allocates full time
fellowships for aspiring social and business innovators or to find investors/sponsors who
would resource further development of the project to supplement our personal
resources. With access to the DMZ and acceler
ator support (business, technical and
financial advisors) we believe that we could launch our first implementation six to eight
months later with an initial investment of approximately $320,000.




Background Research
and Application



:Refine Market
Research and Stakeholder

Deepen our understanding of user
needs and the “experience”



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: Beta Test and User

Take the prototype to the next stage
of develop

Develop Detailed Business Plan

Define requirements for start up and
operational funding for a minimum of

2 years

Pitch Collaborators and

Obtain funding, financial and legal




Project 1

Hire staff, establish organizational
structures and processes, customer
systems, payment schemes, etc,
develop full application in partnership
with client 1

March 2013

Marketing and Promotion

Use conventional and mob
ile social
media, contests to launch the service


Project 1

Continuously monitor and refine

June 2013


Go Global!

Develop agreements with other
transportation authorities and funders
to expand the program


Our idea is both fun and meaningful. It turns idle time into active and

time, challenging and informing riders of ideas published by their fellow riders as they
occur. It is exciting because people are very rarely among a group of people so varied as
when they are riding the public transit. One of the most innovative el
ements of this
project is that the peer group is completely random, unpredictable and constantly

This requires users to consider how what they have learned might impact the
elderly, mothers, youth, or people from other cultures and backgrounds th
at they find
themselves sharing a bus with.

Today I Learned

is fun because it engages these strangers in anonymous
conversation about whatever topics are meaningful to them. Furthermore, this
community is a self
governing and democratic one

ideas that a
re voted most
interesting survive the longest. Ideally,
Today I Learned

will result in new, face
human interaction among strangers, creating a community where none had existed and
reinforcing those that already exist by encouraging strangers to sha
re ideas,
information, and personal interests.. Location
based social networking changes the rules
for sharing information.
Today I Learned
creates shared value through topics of public
conversation created by and for the members of the public, on an envir
friendly mode of transportation. We hope that our project’s goals and targets will create
a fulfilling and meaningful future for commuting. This project is important because it will
create an engaging, fun experience in public transit, which is
more sustainable than
driving, can be an efficient. We hope that the implementation of our project will
encourage others to use the untapped potential found in the unlikely communities
created by public transit.