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Updated: 11 hours 30 min ago

We Have Slap Bands

Fri, 2014-08-08 09:34

As part of a secret project Noel (@noelportugal) and Raymond are cooking up, Noel ordered some AppsLab-branded slap bands.

appslab-slap-band-1

The bands were produced by Amazing Wristbands (@AMZG_Wristbands), and Noel has nothing but good things to say about them, in case you’re looking for your own slap bands.

Anyway, I’m sure we’ll have some left over after the double-secret project. So, if you want one, let us know.

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A Smart Holster for Law Enforcement

Thu, 2014-07-24 10:21

So, back in January, Noel (@noelportugal) took a team of developers to the AT&T Developer Summit Hackathon in Las Vegas.

Although they didn’t win, the built some very cool stuff, combining Google Glass, Philips Hue, Internet of Things, and possibly a kitchen sink in there somewhere, into what can only be described as a smart holster. You know, for guns.

You read that right. This project was way out of our usual wheelhouse, which is what made it so much fun, or so I’m told.

Friend of the ‘Lab Martin Taylor was kind enough to produce, direct and edit the following video, in which Noel describes and demonstrates the holster’s capabilities.

Did you catch the bit at 3:06? That’s Raymond behind the mask.

Enjoy.Possibly Related Posts:

So, a Researcher and Six Developers Join a Coding Challenge

Wed, 2014-07-16 14:07

Editor’s Note: Hey, a new author! Colleague and Friend of the ‘Lab, Joyce Ohgi, a principal usability researcher here at Oracle Applications User Experience, joined several of our guys and tall man, all-around good dude and Friend of the ‘Lab, Rafa Belloni (@rafabelloni), to form a super-powered team last week.

This is her story, as told from the inside. Enjoy.

I earned $600 in a coding challenge without writing a single line of code.

Well, strictly speaking, $600/7 = $85.71, 7 being the number of members on our team. The challenge in question? The Oracle Applications User Experience Beacons Developer Challenge, a contest between internal Oracle teams to devise a creative solution using Estimote’s beacons and Oracle Facilities data provided by Oracle Spatial.

We were given: the beacons, some sample data, icons, and images, an example app, a pack of poster gum to stick the beacons on walls, and the freedom to do whatever we could: 1) dream up and 2) execute in 48 hours.

Fast forward: Anthony Lai (@anthonslai) and I are standing in front of a room of developers and five judges about to give a presentation on our app, whose back end I still did not fully grasp. How did I get there?

My journey started two days before the official challenge start date. I ate lunch with Tony, one of the developers, and he suggested I join the team because “Why not? It’ll be fun.”

I had heard of the challenge but thought it wasn’t for someone like me, as my now-rusty coding skills were last used for an Intro to C programming class in college; what could I contribute to a contest whose purpose is literally to generate code? But I like Tony, and he promised me it would be fun. So I decided, well, if the team will have me, I’d like to try it out. So I signed up.

One day before the challenge: the team decides to meet in order to: 1) learn each other’s names and 2) come up with a list of ideas, which would be narrowed down once the contest started.

After we all introduced ourselves, the brainstorming began immediately and organically. But, to my surprise, not a single dev was taking notes. How were we going to remember all the ideas and organize ourselves?

As a researcher, one of the basic rules of my job is to always observe and always take notes.

I could be useful! I whipped out my handy iPad with keyboard case and typed away. But some of the ideas didn’t make sense to me, and for the good of the team, I realized I also should be voicing my questions and opinions, not just act as the scribe.

So, I asked questions. It was scary. I was worried they would tease me for not knowing the back-end stuff they were talking about, or for speaking about ideas in terms of users’ needs, instead of the system constraints or technology features.

But the team listened to me. They even agreed with me. Okay, they also disagreed with me sometimes. But they treated me with the same respect they treated each other.

Day of the challenge – final code check-in: Honestly, the whole coding challenge experience is a blur. As a researcher, I’m trained not just to always take notes, but also to take photos whenever possible to retain key details that could be otherwise forgotten.

I got so wrapped up in our project, that I didn’t take a single photo of our group. I did take several pictures of our competition though.

Luckily Kathy Miedema dropped by to wish us luck and also snapped a picture.

Mail Attachment

Photo by Kathy Miedema, used with permission

As for the experience itself, I can only attempt to describe it by painting a picture in words.

We are all seated in the AUX Team’s little Design Room. Although all the chairs are occupied, silence reigns, interrupted only by the soft clicking of keyboards, and the occasional low conversation.

Usually, the mental image of collaboration is of a group of people talking together in a group. But in this case, even though it looked like we were all doing our own separate thing, it was intensely collaborative.

Each of our parts would need to come together by the deadline, so we did constant, impromptu, little check-ins to make sure the pieces we were building would integrate quickly.

I checked-in constantly as well, seeking confirmation that, of the many research methodologies I could use, the ones I chose gave the team the data they needed, i.e. user interviews to capture wants, needs and task flows of the current processes and feedback sessions with key stakeholders.

By the way, if you are interested in learning more about research methodology, you can find more info at UX Direct.

So, back to Anthony and me, standing in front of a crowd, about to launch into our demo.

It was crazy; we didn’t have time to do a run-through before; we had some weird display lags using the projector and the Samsung Gear Live smartwatch; the script was too long, and we ran out of time.

Believe me, I have a list of things that we can improve upon for the next challenge, but our idea was good.

Technically, it was solid, because of the deep expertise of the team, which aggregated probably comes close to 100 years of total development experience, and it was based on real users’ needs because of my research.

Happily, we won 2nd place, and $600. Next year, we’ll be gunning for 1st and the cool $1000 prize, which would net $142.86 for each of us.

All kidding aside, it’s not about the prize money or the recognition. It’s about people using their unique skill sets to build something better than any of them could have built on their own.

I will close with a text exchange between Anthony and me, post-challenge:

Me: Thx for letting me participate. I enjoyed seeing “your world” aka development.
Anthony: Uh oh. We are a test species to you.
Me: Don’t worry. A good researcher observes to understand, not to pass judgment.

And later, when I was fretting that I cost our team the win by not contributing any code, Anthony wrote to me:

Contributing code does not mean contributing; contributing does not mean contributing code.

Editor again: Joyce thought the post needing a closing. Thanks to Joyce, Rafa and our guys, Anthony, Luis, Osvaldo, Raymond and Tony for all their hard work. Consider the post closed. Oh, and find the comments.Possibly Related Posts:

Taleo Interview Evaluations, Part 2

Thu, 2014-07-03 02:20

So, if you read Part 1, you’re all up to speed. If not, no worries. You might be a bit lost, but if you care, you can bounce over and come back for the thrilling conclusion.

I first showed the Taleo Interview Evaluation Glass app and Android app at a Taleo and HCM Cloud customer expo in late April, and as I showed it, my story evolved.

Demos are living organisms; the more you show them, the more you morph the story to fit the reactions you get. As I showed the Taleo Glass app, the demo became more about Glass and less about the story I was hoping to tell, which was about completing the interview evaluation more quickly to move along the hiring process.

So, I began telling that story in context of allowing any user, with any device, to complete these evaluations quickly, from the heads-up hotness of Google Glass, all the way down the technology coolness scale to a boring old dumbphone with just voice and text capabilities.

I used the latter example for two reasons. First, the juxtaposition of Google Glass and a dumbphone sending texts got a positive reaction and focused the demo around how we solved the problem vs. “is that Google Glass?”

And second, I was already designing an app to allow a user with a dumbphone to complete an interview evaluation.

Noel (@noelportugal) introduced me to Twilio (@twilio) years ago when he built the epic WebCenter Rock ‘em Sock ‘em Robots. Those robots punched based on text and voice input collected by Twilio.

Side note, Noel has long been a fan of Twilio’s, and happily, they are an Oracle Partner. Ultan (@ultan) is hard at work dreaming up cool stuff we can do with Twilio, so stay tuned.

Anyway, Twilio is the perfect service to power the app I had in mind. Shortly after the customer expo ended, I asked Raymond to build out this new piece, so I could have a full complement of demos to show that fit the full story.

In about a week, Raymond was done, and we now have a holistic story to tell.

The interface is dead simple. The user simply sends text messages to a specific number, using a small set of commands. First, sending “Taleo help” returns a list of the commands. Next, the user sends “Taleo eval requests” to retrieve a list of open interview evaluations.

Screenshot_2014-07-02-12-54-57

The user then sends a command to start one of the numbered evaluations, e.g. “Start eval 4″ and each question is sent as a separate message.

questions1

questions2

When the final question has been answered, a summary of the user’s answered is sent, and the user can submit the evaluation by sending “Confirm submit.”

summarySubmit

 

And that’s it. Elegant and simple and accessible to any manager, e.g. field managers who spend their days traveling between job sites. Coupled with the Glass app and the Android app, we’ve covered all the bases not already covered by Taleo’s web app and mobile apps.

As always, the disclaimer applies. This is not product. It’s simply a concept demo, built to show people the type of R&D we, Oracle Applications User Experience and this team, do. Not product, only research.

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Taleo Interview Evaluations, Part 1

Wed, 2014-07-02 10:50

Time to share a new concept demo, built earlier this Spring by Raymond and Anthony (@anthonyslai), both of whom are ex-Taleo.

Back in April, I got my first exposure to Taleo during a sales call. I was there with the AUX contingent, talking about Oracle HCM Cloud Release 8, featuring Simplified UI, our overall design philosophies and approaches, i.e. simplicity-mobility-extensibility, glance-scan-commit, and our emerging technologies work and future cool stuff.

I left that meeting with an idea for a concept demo, streamlining the interview evaluation process with a Google Glass app.

The basic pain point here is that recruiters have trouble urging the hiring managers they support through the hiring process because these managers have other job responsibilities.

It’s the classic Catch-22 of hiring; you need more people to help do work, but you’re so busy doing the actual work, you don’t have time to do the hiring.

Anyway, Taleo Recruiting has the standard controls, approvals and gating tasks that any hiring process does. One of these gating tasks is completing the interview evaluation; after interviewing a candidate, the interviewer, typically the hiring manager and possibly others, completes an evaluation of the candidate that determines her/his future path in the process.

Good evaluation, the candidate moves on in the process. Poor evaluation, the candidate does not.

Both Taleo’s web app and mobile app provide the ability to complete these evaluations, and I thought it would be cool to build a Glass app just for interview evaluations.

Having a hands-free way to complete an evaluation would be useful for a hiring manager walking between meetings on a large corporate campus or driving to a meeting. The goal here is to bring the interview evaluation closer to the actual end of the interview, while the chat is still fresh in the manager’s mind.

Imagine you’re the hiring manager. Rather than delaying the evaluation until later in the day (or week), walk out of an interview, command Glass to start the evaluation, have the questions read directly into your ear, dictate your responses and submit.

Since the Glass GDK dropped last Winter, Anthony has been looking for a new Glass project, and I figured he and Raymond would run with a Taleo project. They did.

The resulting concept demo is a Glass app and an accompanying Android app that can also be used as a dedicated interview evaluation app. Raymond and Anthony created a clever way to transfer data using the Bluetooth connection between Glass and its parent device.

Here’s the flow, starting with the Glass app. The user can either say “OK Glass” and then say “Start Taleo Glass,” or tap the home card, swipe through the cards and choose the Start Taleo Glass card.

startTaleo

The Glass app will then wait for its companion Android app to send the evaluation details.

Screenshot_2014-07-02-09-26-25

Next, the user opens the Android app to see all the evaluations s/he needs to complete, and then selects the appropriate one.

evalApp1

Tapping Talk to Google Glass sends the first question to the Glass over the Bluetooth connection. The user sees the question in a card, and Glass also dictates the question through its speaker.

Screenshot_2014-07-02-09-06-30

Tapping Glass’ touchpad turns on the microphone so the user can dictate a response, either choosing an option for a multiple choice question or dictating an answer for an open-ended question. As each answer is received by the Android app, the evaluation updates, which is pretty cool to watch.

answers

The Glass app goes through each question, and once the evaluation is complete, the user can review her/his answers on the Android app and submit the evaluation.

The guys built this for me to show at a Taleo and HCM Cloud customer expo, similar to the one AMIS hosted in March. After showing it there, I decided to expand the concept demo to tell a broader story. If you want to read about that, stay tuned for Part 2.

Itching to sound off on this post, find the comments.

Update: The standard disclaimer applies here. This is not product of any kind. It’s simply a concept demo, built to show people the type of R&D we, Oracle Applications User Experience and this team, do. Not product, only research.Possibly Related Posts: