aSister: Scheduling for homeless women with special needs.
DURATION: 12 Weeks
GUIDE: Dr. Kay Connelly
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PROJECT BACKGROUND
This project was done as a solution to the problem of CHI 2008 design competition. Our team is one of the 12 semifinalists, who will present their concepts in CHI conference at Florence, Italy.

PROBLEM
To design Design an object, interface, system, or service intended to support the state of living without a house following a user centered design approach.

PROCESS
  • After literature review and background research we decided to focus on women with special needs. We define this group as pregnant women and women with substance abuse problems.
  • We conducted Interviews with counselors at a few local homeless organizations which revealed that this group has difficulty keeping track of their schedules. They also told us that all of the women in the house had cell phones.
  • From insights, we came up with aSister, a SMS cell phone reminder system that helps assist these women in keeping track of their schedules.
SOLUTION
aSister is used to remind these women of their appointments and deliver health tips. It can also be used to send encouraging messages from counselors and mentors. Eventually the system is transitioned to the woman so she manages her own reminders and schedule. When the woman moves into the shelter she sets goals and a schedule with her counselor. This information would be entered into aSister using the counselor interface. The counselor sets up reminders for all of the events the woman has for the week. At the start of each week the counselor meets with the woman to review her schedule and goals. In order to test the system we built a working prototype of the application. The aSister prototype is a JSP application hosted on an Apache Tomcat 5.5 server.�It makes use of Google�s GData (Java) API to access the Google Calendar and the SMTP GMail services.