Group Brainstorm
The following is the a collaborative design assignment for the CS160 course at UC Berkeley taken in Spring 2014. Here I brainstormed a tentative semester project idea with four other college students. 
In this assignment students will use the brainstorming method they learned in class to develop a group project idea. Students will report the complete list of ideas that your group generated, and then report the final project idea. The students are expected to meet outside of class as well to complete the assignment.
For this assignment, brainstorm a list of at least 50 numbered ideas (aim for more) that your team came up with during your brainstorming session. Each idea has to be described in one full sentence (students should not list an abstract title like Cooking app - better: Vegan Cookery: an application for vegan home cooks that helps them prepare recipes by using voice commands to step through recipe steps." Students should be visual during the brainstorm - include photos of sketches (but also describe in text).
Then, an idea should be selected among these 50 ideas that take sound as input. Construct a short explanation of why the group picked it from amongst all the possibilities in your list. 
The following is my team's write-up from brainstorming 50+ ideas for using sound as input for personal mobile devices. 
Group Name:
D.E.A.N.S. of Design. 
Daniel Haas, Emily Sheng, Armando Mota, Namkyu Chang, Steven Wu
1. Sonar Environment Sensor: To avoid running into things in the outside world (post, tree, person, etc...)
2. Room Layout Detection: Sends a sonar/pulsing sound into an unfamiliar room. Ideally it would be used by the visually impaired to detect objects in the room. This can be used to avoid running into objects and furniture in the room.
3. Tap and Silence: Use to silence a phone, display time, ETC. Ideally used in a group meeting
4. Shazam/Hum a song to change music: Song selection from audio
5. Fast-forward w/ clicks: Controls the playback functionality of audio and/or video.
6. A music player that detects your mood based on the tone of your voice, then selects new songs accordingly.
7. Multiple-choice selection with sound--users make different sounds for different choices, and the loudest wins (at a concert, sporting event, class lecture).
8. Shazam for sporting events: use the phone to figure out what the crowd is chanting so you can join in.
9. Voting by cheering: let the crowd cheer louder at the ideas they like, and explicitly measure on the phone which idea wins.
10. Driving assistant: listens to your driving sounds, makes suggestions to improve your driving.
11. Bicycle diagnostic on-the-go -- an app for amateur riders who need help determining when and what to fix using sound to determine problems.
12. Writing Suggestions -- Finishes your thoughts by using voice input by suggesting how to finish your sentences, great for when you need a boost of creativity! (The Mad Libs of Audio)
13. Crowdsource concert playlist -- For musicians to gather crowd feedback using applause/cheering as input to determine what other songs may do well with this particular audience. Also this may come in handy when an artist asks what songs should be played and the audience provides verbal feedback onto the app to create an audience-generated setlist for the artist
14. Anti-procrastination/Productivity Booster - Listens to your keyboard clicks to determine any pauses/track keystrokes for inappropriate usage (e.g. typing “lol’, “yolo”, etc would trigger a warning when writing an essay)
15. Alarm/Door lock detection by using sound & gps to determine if you’ve closed a door (for home, car, etc), but forgot to lock the door or set the alarm on
16. Tongue twister breathalyzer app for heavy drinkers whose loved ones want to limit their drinking and driving
17. Instrument Learning App - recommends songs for you to play and listens to you as you play to detect any faults in your playing
18. Personalized Language Learning - Talk to your phone to find any problems with your accent, grammar, etc. when learning a new language
19. Accent Detection - “What accent does that guy have?” Turn on the app to find out
20. Language Detection - “What language are they speaking?” Turn on the app to find out
21. Environment Replicator: records environment sounds of your most productive environment and plays them back with the push of a button.
22. Instant Language Translation: provides an easy interface for directly translating foreign languages that are being spoken nearby/in person
23. Public Speaking Trainer: listens to your mock public speech and provides audience feedback noises, criticisms, analysis of ebb and flow of speech
24. Joke Recognition: listens to audience reaction to jokes and rates your performance
25. Confidence Detector: rates your confidence by the sound of your voice, this is an elaboration on the public speaking app
26. Swim Trainer: listens to sounds of water splashing/strokes and gives you feedback on your technique
27. Golf Trainer: listens to stroke of ball and gives you feedback on your swing and mechanics
28. Running Analyzer: listens to step rate and breathing to analyze how much you are pushing yourself, if you are meeting your fitness targets, etc.
29. Running Safety Detector: listens for sounds of the outside world while you are listening to music and warns you when a car is near or some other danger you might not be aware of
30. Barfly: app analyzes ambient sound and listens for key words being spoken, allows you gauge the intellectual atmosphere of the room or start conversations easily in a new place
31. Restaurant Helper: tells you what is in certain dishes so you know what to ask to have left out if you have an allergy. Voice commands tell the app what dish you are speaking about
32. Mood Detector: analyzes sounds of someone’s voice and predicts what kind of mood they are in. Could be helpful for people who have trouble reading emotions (autism, etc.)
33. Healthy Breath Detector: analyzes breathing to detect pressure, etc in lungs (breathing patterns)
34. Healthy Gait Detector: detect walking sounds to analyze and offer advice for a healthy gait
35. Emergency detector for elderly: if loud sound encountered, will call 911/relatives for you
36. Sleep detector that incorporates sound listening (ex: snore patterns, breathing analyzer)
37. Password detector: listens to keystrokes that other people type to retrieve their passwords
38. Advanced text messaging: voice commands to erase whole words (instead of letter by letter), add emoticons, etc
39. Swiping library: use finger swipes on back of device (so screen won’t get dirty)
40. Music recording/mixing that uses different finger touches (thumb, index finger, etc) to make different sounds
41. Music maker using organic sounds from around the house (be able to mix and match sounds)
42. Crowdsourced Garageband: Have users provide guitar progressions, drum beats, and various musical instruments so that someone later could mix all the audio clips together and produce a song out of the open-sourced material.
43. Music Critique/Learner: Input and upload your recorded music and have other users critique and build upon your music
44. Crash Assistant: calls 911 when you crash based on input sounds
45. Water Boiling Detector: Can detect when your water is boiling, so that meanwhile you can go into another room and work
46. PanHandler - Detects heat level of the pan through sizzle sounds
47. Kitchen Ninja - Detects sound of your food-cutting, offers advice for improvement. Listens to the knife and how you are slicing the food and could recommend video tutorials of how to properly do food prep work (ex: avocados, mangoes, kiwis) Basically oddly shaped food items.
48. Melon Freshness Assistant: knock on melons in the supermarket, and the app tells you how ripe they are. (may also ask series of questions)
49. Personal Etiquette Trainer: Detects your eating patterns. Complains to you if you are slurping too loudly (in different cultural contexts based off of GPS location), eating speed, could incorporate the confidence detector from idea 25.
50. Jargon Glossary: app that listens to a conversation (which you know beforehand will involve specialist jargon - for example you know nothing about meat and are about to walk into the butcher’s) and brings up a glossary of specialist terms that were spoken
51. Accent training - Train your cool accents. Can help you refine certain tones in your voice to improve your foreign accents
52. Listen for me! -- Listens to whatever you want the phone to listen to (ex: other people saying your name) and notifies you of the location the sound came from (ex: at a table at a family gathering)
53. Listening Assistant: for deaf people or people that are hard of hearing, it turns sound to text so they can follow a conversation without lip reading
Idea Selection:
Melon Freshness Assistant (#48), Water Boiling (#45), Voting by Cheering (#9), Productivity Booster (#14)
Water boiling. We thought a lot of our ideas were interesting but were not feasible given the relatively short timeframe of the semester. We mostly eliminated the ones we thought would include machine learning algorithms (ex: Instant Language Translation, Listening Assistant) due to complexity. Another factor in our decision process was originality; we preferred not to work with a problem that might already have a few alternate solutions (ex: Instrument Learning App). We narrowed down our list to a few favorites and ultimately chose to focus on water boiling because of its practicality and approximated feasibility.
Project Description:
Target User Group
Our target user group is home cooks who are short on time and are inclined to multi-task. In other words, people who regularly cook but do not like/cannot afford to stand around waiting for their water to boil (ex: parents who must cook for their children). The beauty of this app is that it can reach a wide audience due to the ubiquity of boiling water in cooking: this application would allow cooks to make any water-based meal, such as soup, while the user pursues other activities without worry. People of this user group would want a tool to alert them when their water has boiled so that they can go off into another room and not worry about the water overflowing. We anticipate their needs including a method of notification (loud alarm, email), and a simple interface (so they do not have to spend much time toggling with settings). While we expect to interview the amateur home cook, we could potentially branch this target user group to even food prep workers in various restaurants. For a prototype, we anticipate analyzing water boiling sounds in a relatively quiet context, but as a potential extension, we could look into analyzing boiling water sounds in a noisier environment as that is probably more helpful to our target user group.
Problem Description & Context
Imagine the following scenario: a busy parent is making dinner at home for their family. The recipe involves boiling a large pot of water, which can take a few minutes. Our parent would like to make efficient use of that time, getting work done, checking in on the kids, etc., but is afraid to leave the kitchen because they might miss the water boiling over. This leads to wasted time on the part of the cook, which is unacceptable given their busy schedule. We argue that such a scenario is ripe for technical innovation: if the cook had a way to be notified when the water reached its boiling point, they could easily be productive elsewhere in their house in the intervening minutes. Such an application would be invaluable to users that need time to accomplish other tasks, though it would need to have a simple interface so as not to impose additional distracting cognitive load on its users (and to make the app accessible to cooks of all levels of education/tech-savviness). Given the possible environmental factors during cooking like high noise levels, various pressing distractions fighting for the cook’s attention, and reading a new recipe while attempting to cook it, the last point about reducing cognitive load is key. While there exist solutions that could be useful in any cooking situation, our focus is on providing one for the cook who has efficiency and expediency among their key motivations. To the best of our knowledge, no existing application solves the problem detailed above. The solution can be approximated by using the built-in countdown timers on stovetops and phones, but this approach requires knowledge of the time it takes water to boil, which can be highly variable across different environments/volumes of water.
Why is a mobile app a good solution for the problem?
The entire point of having our proposed functionality on a mobile device/tablet is so that users can continue their work in the convenience of their work rooms. The advantage of a mobile device is its portability, which enhances the usability and simplicity of this feature. If our application could only be accessed through computers, users would have to move part of their workspace into the kitchen so they could work while the application monitors the water, defeating the purpose of the application. In addition, having the application on a mobile device/tablet would allow us to design a simple design specific to the inputs and outputs of the device. Our application would allow the target user group to spend time doing other things away from the kitchen. This application could also help new home cooks who are unsure of when their water has boiled. The advantage an app would have over a web application is, as it usually is, mobility in places which might not have solid reception - cooking takes place in many geographical places and environments.
How will you use sound input?
We believe there are two general approaches to analyze sound input to determine when water boils. One approach is to focus on the differences in volume at the different stages of water being boiled; another approach is to look at the sound wave patterns at different stages of water boiling. A combination of both may provide better accuracy in detecting boiling water.
Group Brainstorm

Group Brainstorm

Received: 19.5 points out of 20 points. Blurb: Generated 50+ ideas for smartphones that take sound as active input. (audio recording would be usi Read More

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