Communicating ideas: Illustration and play
Humans are visual creatures. Most of us process information based on what we see. 65% of us are visual learners
— The Social Science Research Network

Today, our social media is flooded with videos, gifs and memes. We look, laugh, cry and empathise with stories that grab us, and scroll past the ones that don't. Whether the we feel the stories are relevant or not, images and videos allow us to understand ideas quickly and succinctly.

Communicating ideas in business is much the same. By illustrating ideas such as customer journey flows and co-creating matrixes such as the one below, we allow for all stakeholders to learn and process complex ideas. We can see very quickly whether something may or may not work.


Thinking “crazy”

When we are developing solutions, sometimes it helps to think completely outside the square. During our customer research, one of small things that we nearly overlooked which came up in many interviews was that passengers didn't like to touch machines when purchasing tickets. In our brainstorming sessions, to address this problem, we came up with a crazy idea of “teleportation”.


Although teleportation is not (yet) possible, while developing this idea, we decided it would be interesting to show how this concept may work through Lego and plasticine!

While explaining the concept, we could already identify current challenges that we could tackle straight away such as better directional signage and better awareness campaigns which could have similar, but more tangible solution.

Thommy TranComment
Future Cities Hackathon

Green behind the ears

My first hackathon. What a rush. I went in brimming with excitement that we were going to change the world. It was so exciting to see that there were so many like-minded people who wanted to do the same thing!



Transport is a very important function in our lives, and most of us use public transport. It's central to everything we do. Without transportation, it would be difficult if not impossible to get to our destination. Our transportation system is not ideal, it could be better.

Efficient transport has a significant impact on the liveability of our city, and that's why we're working on this for the hackathon. So we asked the question: "How might we improve the experience for people using public transport?"

Currently we work around the system. In the future, our liveable cities will anticipate and work around our needs.


Challenges we ran into

Yesterday we hit a road block. At 4:30pm we went to Central station bus stop to test our initial concept to generate more awareness of bus timetables and routes. Our hypothesis holds, however we discovered that a lot of this information already exists in tools such as Trip View and Google Maps. We were disheartened and we returned to UTS to revaluate and think of how we could solve another big problem we faced with public transport. We even looked at the other problems and considered working on something new.


By 7pm, we came to a decision: Do we want to give up now and come in tomorrow as observers to others? Or do we want to work with what we have and take it through the full process of this Hackathon? We have learnt so much, why don't we just have fun with it?

So we kept going back to our problem statement. The answer is really in the question.

We asked the question, if these tools already exist, why are the problems still there? What we found is that although the tools are there, people are not aware of these tools or even how to use them. So the problem is really about how to make these accessible and personal for people.

The existing Google Maps and Trip View need the user to learn how to navigate around the app. The app we're proposing would take this one step further. Our app would be automatic, personalised, and notify the individual of their trips and alert them of when to leave, alternate routes, and make their overall public transport experience a more enjoyable and stress-free.

We arrived to this at 8pm last night.

Accomplishments that we're proud of

I was proud that we were able to bounce back from our roadblocks. We had a different initial proposal, but we had to pivot. We maintained our optimism, resilience and sense of humour as a team, and we worked well to come up with a related idea and new solutions using the fail-fast approach. We even ideated, shot and edited this little video in under an hour to showcase the idea.

What we learned

We learnt that failure can bring new opportunities; that research and collaboration takes time and persistence. Hitting road blocks are part of the experience, and it's how you deal with challenges to identify opportunities that matter.

What's next for Stress-free A2B

Test the concept with developers and with everyday customers of public transport. We need to see if this will help more people use public transport and if it makes it more attractive and accessible to people who otherwise would not use it.

Thommy TranComment