OX - Oxford Global Hackathon 2019

OVERVIEW

OX is a web application, developed during Oxford Hackathon in Toronto. It is an application designed to help in the commercial real estate market, to address spec cost process of construction.

Platform

Desktop Web Application

Tools

React, node.js, JavaScript, HTML, Illustrator, Sketch

SCOPE

2 Days

ROLES

Manny Will - Business Strategist
Raphael Z. - Full Stack Developer
Tony Ko - Full Stack Developer
Jason Das - UX & UI Designer
Sherry Zheng - Designer
Vamsi Tatikonda - Back-End Developer

The Challenge

For the Oxford Global Hackathon 2019, teams from Toronto, Boston, London, and Sydney were tasked to solve issues in construction. The global construction industry is projected to exceed $15.5 trillion by 2030. This massive opportunity to innovate, and transform the way we plan, design and construct buildings.

The Detailed Design phase of a project is when the design team decides what materials make up the building. Thousands of different specifications, and many are very small. However small overages add up and the interior designers have little financial incentive to keep costs low.

Factors in market perception of quality, how we create a system or process to ensure specifications are appropriate to the development and fairly-priced?

The Solution

Our team developed a web application called OX. OX is a web portal application meant for the employees of Oxford Properties.

OX is what our team calls a catalogue aggregation application, powered to make more informed material decisions. We aim to address smart identification and suggest specifications, that are appropriate for the development, pre-design and post-design of the construction.

 

  • OX would work on specification data related to materials, entered into a cloud database.

  • Vendors would have the option disclosing this information.
  • Create a client portal where information can be uploaded to start internal accumulating the data.
  • OX  would use smart search criteria and recommendation of materials matching.
  • User would then be able to output a post analysis report based on restrictions, pricing, building codes, and internal notes.

Research and Process

Information Architecture

We started looking at the specification sheets of the materials. There was a lot of variables, so we limited it down to key areas for the sake of time. We determined early that an intuitive search bar would be crucial. As a competitive comparison, we looked at Amazon.com and PC Partpicker. We internally wanted to create “The Amazon of Building Materials”. PC Partpicker offered a price history comparison, that we wanted to adopt for OX.  

Database & Search Function

Creation of the database was done with JSON. As we started entering the database with noticed the compiling of data took long with real time search.  For the sake of time we had to drop building out the client portal for entering into the database. Some information we wanted to include was not disclosed from Oxford. We had to create “dummy data” to fill in the gaps. Pricing was something that not disclosed as we learned about the process of procurement and tendering contracts in the construction industry.

Prototype and Pitch

We managed to put together a working prototype of OX. We filled our database to enable different scenarios for the materials. For instance what if a material was on low on stock? We added location of origin for materials,  and possible discrepancies that would be displayed in analysis. Due to issues with server and coding bugs, the UI kit was not included in time for presentation. We then pitched OX to a round of judges. We also presented to some top executives at Oxford Properties, who saw some great potential in OX.

Low & Mid Fidelity Screens

(L - R) Materials List, Materials Search Results, Materials Product Details
(L-R) Materials List, Search Results, Material Product Details (Material Notes, Price History)

Conclusion

Key Takeaways

  • OX could potentially flag materials that are from regions with imposed government tariffs, or trade disputes.

  • Possible health and safety recall and inspection requirements needed for past construction projects.
  • The advancement of deep learning and artificial intelligence could play a big early factor in the concept stage.
  • Building a database of all Oxford construction projects with their material lists, could create a more collaborative approach in future construction projects.
  • Key decision makers particularly architects and contractors, would require separate journey mapping.
  • There’s potential we could develop an interior design application for smaller companies

Results

After the completion of the hackathon and feedback from the selection of judges we came away pleased with OX’s potential. However we needed to take into account that the current process of construction material procurement could hinder disclosing sensitive information. We hope to follow up with Oxford employees and construction industry professionals, to focus on user testing.

Please Sir. I Want Some More.

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