A Blank Sheet of Paper

By Vignesh Venkatachalam November 18, 2017 Discover Guido project

We are team Ikare!

Joanne & Romain from the Haute Ecole d’Arts et Design, Pierre, Mehmed & Gabriel from the Haute Ecole du Paysage, d’Ingénierie et d’Architecture and Vignesh from the Haute Ecole de Gestion.

As far as new beginnings go, being part of the 5th edition of the China Hardware Innovation Camp is probably going to be one of the most fun, ambitious and challenging aspects of our education. The CHIC initiative curated by EPFL gives all participating teams the opportunity to start from a blank page and create an IoT product that we will develop over the next 9 months.

Our team, based in Geneva, met for the first time last weekend where we met our supervisors and the program directors. We barely knew each other but had to learn how to work together quickly in order to get the most out of the fast-paced workshops and find our team’s purpose. The learning curve was steep but we learned a lot from each other and got to see what it’s like to think like a designer, how to build prototypes like an engineer and to pitch like an entrepreneur. The different exercises allowed us to narrow our focus on two main “universes” in which our product would be created:

– Mobility and location-based services

– Emergency Response

Limiting our ideas to ones within these two topics allowed us to have deeper conversations about the value we are trying to create, the problems we would like to solve and the technological feasibility of each idea. It allowed us to get a glimpse into how each member thinks and the reasons why he or she joined this program.

Finally, after some encouraging last words from the supervisors, we were really starting to feel like a team! Then, we finally went home to let all of this sink in.

Two days later, on Tuesday, we met up for our first official meeting. We debated and got lost in details more times than we’d like to admit but we also worked towards establishing a common language between us and managing our expectations. Let’s be honest, finding common ground requires a few compromises but we have managed to define a clear idea towards which each of us could start doing some research. The other outcome of our meeting was realizing that we needed to manage our time efficiently until our next milestone. As we’re all working on multiple different projects, this means that learning how to organize our efforts is going to be critical to our team’s success! Also, we learned about our own personal weaknesses. Weaknesses that we will hopefully turn into strengths by the time we get back from the last stage of this program in China!


So what’s going on right now?

The engineers are working hard on listing the possible technologies that could be interesting to develop, Romain and Joanne are mapping the user experience and creating a few mock-ups while I’m trying to profile potential customer personas. We’ll be meeting again this weekend to see the progress we have made and help each other get better at our jobs.

It’s barely been a week but it’s undeniable that the learning experience has been amazingly rich. For this, we’d especially like to thank our supervisors who were crucial in catalyzing the team and developing our ideas.

And that’s about it for this week… We’re super excited to have started this adventure and hope you’ll enjoy following us on this journey!  We also want to take this opportunity to wish good luck to all the other CHIC teams! The Geneva team is looking forward to meeting you!

We’ll be back soon with more updates so stay tuned!