IS480 Team wiki: 2012T1 M.O.O.T/Final Wiki

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Project Progress Summary

Project Highlights

  • Inability to implement unsupervised learning
    • Percentage of men picking male hat and vice versa during UT2 was only 27% - not reliable
  • Cumbersome preparation for User Testing at Plaza Singapura
  • Tricky gesture choices for interactive flow requiring numerous times of gesture changes

There are also other midterm project highlights.

Project Challenges

Balancing Intuitiveness and Technical Competence

Natural User Interface poses a challenge as something intuitive for us is often not easily translated into something that machine can understand. For example, it is natural for us to point at something to indicate that we have chosen the thing, in our case, a door. However, Kinect does not detect finger, hence we need to think of other ways to indicate choice that is not awkward, yet still implementable. We usually come up with a list of possible gestures and intentions, and eliminate them systematically. The same applies for other gestures implemented in AlterSense.

Securing User Testing Site at Plaza Singapura

As CapitaMalls Asia is a large Trans National Company, each employee's job scope is very specific, hence there is a myriad of people we have to liaise with just to secure the testing site. It was difficult to communicate with so many parties, and the assumption that messages would be passed on to relevant people often did not materialize. We received a long list of requirements for "renting" a site a week before the scheduled User Testing (UT). Since none of us had any experience of renting commercial space for roadshow, we struggled in understanding and attempting to meet the requirements, as well as in coming up with contingency plans. Fortunately, through tighter communication with relevant key people and a lot of persistence, we managed to hold the UT as scheduled.

Project Achievements

  • Tested by real shoppers of diverse demographics
  • Possibility to be further developed in phases by CapitaMalls Asia
  • More than 80% gender prediction accuracy in controlled environment
  • More than 70% gender prediction accuracy in uncontrolled environment

Project Management

Project Schedule

Our weekly progress table helps in tracking weekly progress, complementing the planned schedule summary that provides us with a bird's eye view of the project.

Project Metrics

Schedule & Bug Metrics

Gender Recognition Metrics

Technical Complexity

Quality of Product

Project Deliverable

Stage Specification Modules
Project Management Metrics Schedule & Bug Metrics, Bug Log
Minutes Client Meeting,Supervisor Meeting
Content Interaction flow chart Flow Chart
Narrative flow Interactive Content Flow
Requirement Functionality list Functionalities
Design Use Case Use Case
Architectural diagram Architectural Diagram
Testing User Testing 2 documentation UT2
Handover Manual




Description Details
Date 5 November 2012 from 12pm to 6pm
  • Verify if users can react to AlterSense without prompting
  • Test the intuitiveness of our user interface (photo taking) and hand gestures
  • Gather user opinion about using AlterSense in a mall setting
  • Test the accuracy of gender recognition in a mall setting
Scope completed
  • Gender Recognition through:
    1. Detection of height
    2. Detection of shoulder width & center of moment
    3. Detection of presence of skirt
    4. Detection of presence of hair
    5. Detection of presence of bag
    However only the 1st two parameters (height, shoulder width) were integrated into Neural Network
  • AForge learning algorithm
  • Prototype of photo taking
    1. Countdown timer (to signal the start of photo taking)
    2. Snapping of photo

53 testers - 29 females & 24 males
Details of testers can be found in Testers' Profile

Execution flow

1. Ask shopper if they have a smartphone and to download Microsoft Tag if they have one. If they are unwilling to download, we lend them our phones
2. Let user use AlterSense by himself/herself
3. Observe user if he/she has any difficulties responding to AlterSense
4. Measure the time taken for user to raise his/her right hand and to scan the Microsoft tag
5. Let user complete a survey form


Findings from observation form
Results of survey form


Team Reflection

Individual Reflection


This journey has been a challenging, yet fulfilling experience for me. As our project focuses on shopper's experience, it is essential to always keep the shopper in mind while designing the storyboard. Whenever there was a change in requirements or we needed to add something new into the storyboard, we had to take into consideration many factors such as whether the addition would be too abrupt and destroy the flow of the storyboard or whether the experience would be intuitive enough without being too straight in the face. Ensuring that all the various sections are integrated together with a consistent storyline and common theme while keeping the fun factor was definitely a very challenging task. In addition, from our User Testing 2, I realized that the perspective of being a tester of an application is very different from being the creator of the application. Certain things that we thought would be natural and intuitive to a person did not turn out to be so. Hence there was a need to change our perspective and start thinking of the shopper as one that would requires a lot of hints.

Through this project, I have also picked up valuable soft skills such as working with people with different working styles. Having a diversified team with each team member having different strengths certainly helped us in leveraging on each other's strengths. In addition, learning to understand one another's weaknesses and think of ways to adapt and work around it instead of expecting others to change definitely was one of the learning point.

Personally, I am very grateful to be part of this exciting project with this special bunch of people and am very glad that our team have managed to come this far. It is definitely a memorable experience which would help guide me through my future.


Project AlterSense trained me not only to be well-versed in my development skills, but also soft skills such as logistics and people management. It was evident in our last user testing in Plaza Singapura, where we went through several hurdles such as coordinating with several parties to approve the location for testing (people from the Mall, IT and MarCom Department), to even liaising with technician to prepare power points for our test location. These incidents trained me in areas that couldn’t be taught in an academic setting, equipping me with skills that would be essential in real world setting.

When developing AlterSense’s Kinect Gesture, the thought process behind each gesture was vital in making the user experience enjoyable and fun. Using Kinect challenged us to design and create visual cues for users, to understand what kind of gesture is required for the desired input. Something as simple as choosing a door could be difficult to be understood by a machine. We had to brainstorm, what would be the best method for a user to select a door? Can the user complete an action without any instruction given? Designing a natural user interface for user to interact with was the most challenging part for me. Through our user testing and feedback, I was able to gain more experience and insight in this field and able to put myself in the shoppers’ perspective when developing.

Overall my IS480 journey had been fulfilling, working with CapitaMalls Asia allows me to pick up business acumen that would be valuable for my career in the future. Having an awesome team and friends to share this journey with me, IS480 would definitely be the most memorable project in SMU.


I used to think that schedule planning was more of a perfunctory administrative matter. This project, however, shows me that the project schedule is,in fact, the thing that keeps everyone on the same page. It lets us know where we are, what else are left to do. Iterative methodology allows me to revisit the schedule at the end of iteration, and craft the schedule for upcoming iterations based on our progress in the past iteration. Pivotal Tracker has been a handy tool in determining velocity, which I leverage on as a gauge of how much we can accomplish in iteration.

Many times we were questioned on the feasibility of using Kinect in shopping center, or of using Neural Network instead of regression to determine gender; just because the aforementioned things are not common and put us in a state with very steep learning curve. Equipped with the willingness to learn and an open mind, voila! We have actually come so far! This project instills this realization that I can learn new things and apply them to the context that I want to see them in.

Lastly, I witnessed the pivotal role of business-IT alignment in this project. Balancing narrative flow that provides shopper with satisfying user experience and reasonable features development is an art. We may be tempted to include a feature - just because it is technically reasonable, but have to eventually go back to the drawing board to find alternative way because the initial proposed feature simply does not fit the story line.

All in all, Project AlterSense has provided me with a a glimpse of end-to-end, real world software development. The skills obtained definitely make me feel better equipped to take up other challenging projects in the future.


The IS480 journey has taken my learning beyond the classroom. Meeting a real client and developing a Kinect project was an exciting and rare opportunity to speak with external parties and obtain a realistic perspective to project management. From a project perspective, it is important to be flexible as changes are bound to happen. This project has gone through several rounds of requirement changes over time, and I believe it’s important to keep the development modules independent so new changes can be implemented more readily. Additionally, I have learnt a lot about developing business requirements as my client offered business domain knowledge as well as meeting other stakeholders from various departments within CapitaMall Asia. Meeting these stakeholders offered valuable insights, and understanding their concerns is a very essential element required to develop the business requirements of AlterSense.

In hard skills, I have gained knowledge in Kinect development, Windows Presentation Foundation layer and various methods to process data streams. In addition, I am more familiar with front-end development as controlling the user interface elements and adjusting them to fit the storyboard proved to be a delicate affair that required vast amounts of testing and careful sequencing of methods. On top of getting things to work, a front-end developer has to place more emphasis in aesthetics, sequence and overall layout.

AlterSense is definitely one of most challenging projects that I will remember. Coming to the end of this project, I am personally satisfied with the outcome. Having everything pieced together to form a working solution that fits CMA’s goals is a fulfilling task. I gained a lot from this project, and believe that these experiences would be useful in my future endeavors.

I feel grateful for the opportunity to experience this IS480 journey with my fellow team members. At a project level, I learnt a lot about managing the expectations of multiple stakeholders. I felt that it was a rewarding experience because it pushed the boundaries of what our team could achieve, given the time constraints and technological complexities. I also learnt how to appreciate the process of exploring into unknown territory, without having any prior knowledge about a subject matter. At a personal level, I learnt a lot about risk management through juggling multiple projects and prioritising to-do items. Moving forward, I hope to pass on this experience to fellow SMU SIS students who will be embarking on their IS480 journey in the future.