Go Mingle

At the end of a hard day’s work, you want to unwind over a couple of drinks with your friends. Or you just want to chill at your favorite clubhouse over the weekend and bond with a bunch of friends over drinks and finger food. Now what are the choices you have as you know well that these places are usually very crowded with absolutely no standing room, leave alone a place to sit. And ordering a drink physically in such a scenario is next to impossible, considering you’re already jostling for space and don’t enjoy the idea of standing at the end of a serpentine queue awaiting your turn.

 

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Now, what’s the next best thing you can do? From among the few options – moving to another pub or club (which cannot really guarantee you a quiet corner), booking yourself a cabana, or socializing a bit differently. The third option is definitely smarter and better for today’s mobile-driven generation.

And that’s what prompted our client GoMingle to come up with the right strategy for a social media app where people can meet others, socialize, make new friends, order food and drinks. Targeted at the clubhouses and casinos, in Las Vegas especially, we at [x]cube built the app with an aim to bring together two different platforms – social media and billing – and integrate the POS system with restaurant ordering.

 

HOW DID WE DO IT?

Our expertise and results-driven engineering helped provide the client with a complete solution – from designing to execution and verification. We’ve proposed the entire architecture and built the whole system which includes frontend mobile application and backend services. The frontend part is available in the market but one piece of the backend component which we built is very unique.

 

So, what did we do?

  • Designed and developed a platform that integrates with multiple POS systems.
  • Created simple UI/UX design – striking the right balance between ordering and social components.
  • Performed QA to ensure Secured transactions, Load handling and Stress handling of the POS system.


WHAT’S UNIQUE ABOUT THIS APP?

There are multiple POS systems in the market and our backend POS controller can talk to different POS controller systems and streamline the whole request into one. That’s the uniqueness of the app as it basically gives costing advantage in managing the whole POS system. This reusable component can be used for other industries as well.

 

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KEY FEATURES

  • Ensure a good time at the night-club, enjoy your drink and indulge in activities at the clubhouse in a hassle-free manner.
  • Socialize and interact with new people; meet friends and explore who is around you.
  • Use the app to ‘wink’ at a person you like and strike up a conversation, offer drink, even request a meet-up if the person ‘winks’ back.
  • Avoid standing in longer queues and pay securely for your food and drinks.
  • Place your order, receive notification, pick up the drink from the nearest pickup point by just flashing your code.
  • Discover what coolest things are happening in some of the finest entertainment centers around you.
  • App provides Digital Ordering and engagement for Restaurant Industry, Group ordering, Ordering for others, Social chat, Meetup, etc.
  • Raise the quotient of your entertainment experience while saving time.

Challenges

 

There are 1000s of POS systems. In order to buy a POS system, one needs to invest a lot of money as it is not only expensive but also incurs heavy licensing costs.

So, if someone wants POS systems A, B & C for instance, s/he needs to purchase three different systems to take care of the multiple needs. This would mean a huge increase in infrastructure cost and capital expenditure.

The changing technology with its focus on user-friendly apps available now on low-cost mobile devices makes it imperative for companies to re-align their position to accommodate sophisticated and higher processing.

Cut-throat competition in restaurant business coupled with expectations of high-end customers who are getting used to ‘luxury at affordable prices’ makes companies look at alternative solutions.

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SOLUTION

To avoid unwanted additional expenses, a better and viable alternative can be: take an existing POS system and have a wrapper around it. What we have provided is what most companies need – a simple wrapper which can talk to all the POS systems and communicate with the frontend as well.

But now, with the POS system we have built, instead of buying three different POS systems, the client just has to buy our wrapper and start using it to integrate it with multiple systems. What we’ve provided is the backend technology.

Solution Strategy

 

  • [x]cube POS platform as SaaS, PaaS and one-stop shop for integrating and connecting to different POS systems.
  • Significant reduction in cost of integrating multiple POS systems.
  • Integrating mobility for restaurant ordering.


Technical highlights

 

  • Highly scalable, responsive and reliable platform capable of handling demanding business needs.
  • Multiple POS system ready, multi-location support and multiple payment gateway processing system.
  • Secured POS transactions and data storage.
  • Sales-Centric UI & Custom reports.
  • Powerful and comprehensive analytics.
  • Compatible Mobile application available on iOS & Android platforms.
  • Back office portal for managing POS systems, product inventory, locations and payment gateways.

Result

 

As GoMingle is meant for billing and inventory management, besides providing innovative and unique socializing opportunities, one of the best results is managing to cut down on the costs of procuring multiple POS systems.

AdvoCare 24-Day Challenge

Background

AdvoCare is a leading health and wellness company which believes in “building champions” and offers world­class energy, weight­loss, nutrition, and sports performance products to help consumers reduce weight, look radiant and lead a healthy lifestyle.

The wellness brand approached [x]cube LABS to lead the development effort and provide consulting services for developing an app to promote their 24­Day Challenge to end­customers using an overall approach for higher ROI, increased interactivity and engagement.

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What is AdvoCare 24­Day Challenge?

24­Day Challenge is AdvoCare’s official app that lets its customers keep track of his food, water intake and workouts in addition to providing health tips and product suggestions. Integrated with community page, a user can connect with his friends, create/join groups and interact with other people completing the 24­Day challenge.

When users sign up for the challenge, they need to use AdvoCare products at stipulated times for the next 24 days. This challenge has been developed by reputed dieticians and if the user wants to lose weight, then s/he needs to strictly adhere to whatever is specified in the program. AdvoCare has its own set of guidelines, rules & regulations on when can one take up the program and what is the time gap between each challenge.

So, what does the app do?

Once the app is downloaded, users need to complete their profile by entering details like height, weight, and measurements (tummy, chest) thus measuring everything on Day 1. Once registered, the app will also show users which products (supplements) they need to take before/after breakfast, lunch, dinner, etc.

However, it doesn’t track calorie­intake. Though there’s a suggested list of food items for users, they are free to choose whatever they want to eat. The app basically helps user consume the AdvoCare products regularly. And everyday, the user has to sign in and tick off food, supplements and water intake. After 24 days, users enter their measurements again and check the result ­ be it inch­loss or weight­loss ­ and share it within their community.

Why is 24­day Challenge an app?

Though AdvoCare has a manual for people who sign up for their program and purchase the products, there’s no guarantee that the person actually opened the manual and followed everything prescribed there diligently.

However, the app would not let go of the user once s/he signs up for the program. It keeps sending notifications and reminders on a daily basis, and makes sure that the user marks the supplements taken at breakfast, lunch and dinner. If someone doesn’t login for two consecutive days, push notifications will be sent.

That way, people are more inclined to keep up with the challenge. Also, it’s easier to feed the info on the meal eaten and supplements consumed into a mobile app immediately after it is done.

How Did We Make It Possible?

The client provided us with a manual of his products and asked us to make a digital app based on that. We took it as a challenge and gave a couple of iterations. He liked our initial pitch and our work­around solution. Once we got a go­ahead from him, we did everything ­ from development to design to deciding the look & feel of the app.

They provided us feedback on UI and UX, but left everything else to us. As experts in the field, he trusted our judgment and gave us the flexibility to do whatever we could to make the app appealing, useful and user­friendly.

As we were managing the backend also, we uses analytics to check the metrics on how many people completed it. The app tracks user presence on the app ­ login details, screens accessed, what was done, etc. So, on Day 24 when the app is opened, it launches the final assessment screen which is tracked by analytics.

KEY FEATURES

 

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    • Log and track your food & water intake, and workouts.
    • Benefit from the tips of a Coach who will be able to guide a user or group of users.
    • Choose the food you may want to eat from the portion guide and food suggestions, along with the predefined/ planned medications and products.
    • App ensures you lose weight or inches in 24 days by sending reminders, push notifications to help users keep up with the challenge.
    • Be part of the AdvoCare community ­ share your progress, success stories & pain points with and provide great tips to other people.

 

  • Use forum to discuss the benefits of products like meal­replacement shakes and flavored energy drinks. Find out when the stock will come in, check inventory and asksupply­chain questions.
  • Export the data and share it with your coach or mentor who oversees your daily fitness/diet­related activities.
  • The mini­Facebook kind of feature enables users to search for people, send friend requests, create/join a group, invite others to your group, chat, add a coach, etc.

 

CHALLENGES

There’s a very thin line between conversion ratios and completion of the challenge. And, the stickiness element was missing initially ­ getting people to open the app regularly and follow the program was challenging.

The app has a mini­Facebook kind of feature and this community part was challenging as a number of feeds keep flowing into the system and we had to do a lot of indexing in the database ­ if someone wants to pick a course from 6 or 8 months ago, we had to crawl the database to find the right details. So we needed to maintain the database too, and archiving old data in the backup server proved challenging.The PR and marketing events used to impact the app positively by increasing downloads. As we handled the app’s scalability, we were on our toes always to face any sudden spur in activity.

On the technical front, a few database queries became challenging ­ as these had to be designed like a union where users had friends, feeds, groups ­ especially when a user is part of different groups, the data needs to be picked from various tables, combined, compiled and sorted out based on user’s preference.

SOLUTION

We did a few updates wherein if a person doesn’t open the app for two consecutive days, notifications will be pushed to him asking if he is following the program. That helped get the stickiness to the app and people started coming back after those updates.

To archive old data, we increased and scaled out databases in such a way that we could hold about 6­8 months’ chats, and anything beyond that would go into the archives.

To tackle scalability, we requested the client to give us a heads up if any promotional event or activity was being planned.

THE RESULT

The app got a massive response from AdvoCare customers as within the first 3 months of its launch, it was used more than a million times. Thanks to the client’s marketing and promotional activities, there were over a million users in a short span. Around peak season inJanuary/February, the app gets 1000+ app usage per second. Our biggest achievement: there were over 10,000 downloads on a single day.

SMARTCENTRAL


Sharp offers an impressive repertoire of high-end, technologically advanced TVs and other consumer entertainment products, and is certainly one of the globally admired brands. As an industry leader, Sharp commits itself to enriching consumer’s experience through innovation and use of advanced technology

sharpimage2Sharp approached [x]cube with a clear mandate – to design and develop a mobile app that can interact with all of Sharp’s connected displays, offering an unbeatable experience to its consumers.The vision behind was not only to build an app that controls the TV functions by replacing the remote but also offers complete digital experience to users by providing them access to apps, social media content and beam it on their TV.

Having developed over 700 apps, the [x]cube team, with its extensive expertise in understanding mobile space, laid out the mobile strategy to engineer a specialized connected display interface which will make a new mark in the Smart TV experience..

HOW DID WE DO IT?

Sharp engaged us to provide an end-to-end solution leveraging our expertise in mobile. And we did everything – designing, testing and deploying – by taking care of the software part completely while the required hardware components were provided by the manufacturers of Sharp TV.

As the software and hardware components are engaged in a tight-knit dialogue, we can’t use the same app to communicate with any other smart TV. We also defined the requirements for them during the umpteen brainstorming sessions we had. They had a clear vision of what they wanted – a smart remote for their smart TV, and we gave them exactly that

But it was easier said than done. We started by giving them a lot of inputs on a few good features to have in the remote – and we both agreed that the remote cannot be an ordinary one to control volume or channel number, but it should be media- and content-driven.

Now, using this app, you can view the complete program guide and launch the program in the application or you can buy a video from portals like youtube and uloo, and you can launch the same service on the TV. Thanks to social media integration, you can now tell your friends “Hey, I’m watching this program on this channel, why don’t you join me!” thus keeping people in loop.

WHAT’S UNIQUE ABOUT THIS APP?

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If there’s one thing unique about this app, it is that the app can convert your mobile into a TV remote and replace the latter completely. You can also play all your local content – media files (music, audio, video and photos) – from your mobile on to the TV with an autoplay option for photos. Besides this, a list of TV shows and schedule is also provided based on the country and zip code, and reminders can be set for TV shows.

It’s a known fact that high-quality videos don’t give a good feel when played or watched on a mobile’s small screen but imagine the kind of quality that one can expect when they are beamed on to Sharp TV’s large screen – especially with the 4K videos that are being created now.

 

The biggest advantage is that you need not add pen drives or external devices to the TV but just play videos or media files on your phone directly or from any website like youtube, and stream them on to the large screen. However, make sure that both TV and phone are WiFi enabled and are on the same network. The TV also has to support UPnP Protocol.

 

KEY FEATURES

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Remote Control:
The app allows users to control TV functions like changing channels, volume control, access apps and everything else that a normal remote does.
Beaming & Streaming: The app allows users to beam local content like pictures, videos, audio files etc., and also social media content from their mobile device on to their Smart TV. The app also allows users to stream movies from their mobile to TV providing relative content, viewing & sharing options.

 

TV Guide:

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Users get access to all relevant information on shows, schedule on different channels. You can also set reminders & launch the show from their device. You can view programs choosing from a list of actors/directors or year-wise (last 10-15 years), and also based on th

 

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Send voice commands:

To move the channels up/down or increase or decrease the volume by a few notches, you don’t have to go to the remote screen and change it – you can do so just by saying ‘Channel up’, ‘Channel down’, ‘Volume up’, ‘Volume down’ (changes 3-4 levels). You can also use voice commands to open any of the apps (10-15) existing in the TV, switch the power on or off, and thus give about 6-10 commands. However, offline voice detection software depends on the device.

 

Challenges

Beaming local content from device, and streaming social content was a supreme challenge initially. The protocol followed by TV is different as it has its own protocol. So, sending data via that protocol was difficult – especially when it came to Social content, youtube doesn’t give the facility to play directly i.e., if you take the URL and give it to the TV, it’ll not decode it. So, we sent the decoded version of youtube URLs to the TV.

Other technical challenges included hardware communication over WiFi using IP commands. It was a first time implementation and hence it is completely dependent on the strength of your WiFi as the communication is WiFi-enabled. Our testing environment created a lot of issues initially as the internet strength wasn’t good and sometimes there were quality issues too where we missed a few critical bytes while transferring the data.

The [x]cube team leveraged its extensive mobile experience, engineering proficiency, and intellectual properties to successfully overcome these kind of dependencies, technical hitches and issues, and develop the Smart TV app.

 

SOLUTION STRATEGY

For social media, we went ahead and decoded youtube and other website content to give video URLs to TV. The solution we came up with is platform specific and we cannot have the same solution for both platforms when it comes to social media.
To enable smooth communication between the TV and the local content, we had to create a local server on the mobile device for all the content we wanted to send out to the TV. So, we listed out all the media files, made a server at our end and sent that particular file link to the TV using UPnP protocol. This solution worked very well as it just creates a server but doesn’t use a lot of space.
To overcome quality issues, we started monitoring how many bytes we’re sending to the TV by using third party tools to trace the missing packets and figure out how they’re missing, and then started fixing them one by one..

 

TECHNICAL SPECIFICATIONS

  • As we had to support mobile and tablets, we changed the UI accordingly.
  • User can choose from any of the 8 themes and change the background.
  • All the images of TV guide are catchy.
  • The remote screen was designed keeping in mind two things to ensure that we give the end-user what he’s used to:

 

Result

SmartCentral app succeeds in its objective of redefining Smart TV viewing by taking the user experience to a completely new level. With intuitive UI/UX, the app accentuates the TV viewing pleasure. The first app of its kind to let users make content-based search and beam content from mobile devices, it has set the trend in the connected display space, positioning Sharp Electronics ahead of its competition.

This app works very well with the high-end models of Sharp TV but since only a few models are supported, when a customer plans to buy a TV, the app can scan and tell whether that particular model is supported or not. Post its launch, the app is being used by salespeople in showrooms to demonstrate to the customers that they have a smart application for their smart TV which helped increase the number of downloads.

OptumizeMe

UnitedHealth Group is the most preferred healthcare company in the United States, and has become well known for its varied range of products and its commitment to introducing innovative approaches, products and services to “improve personal health and promote healthier populations in local communities”.

UnitedHealth Group’s innovation and R&D mobility strategy/ Healthcare division approached [x]cube LABS to lead the development effort and offer consulting services for their OptumizeMe mobile app.

Through OptumizeMe, UHG wanted to help people live healthier lives through practical challenges and made an attempt to make the healthcare system work better for everyone. And we stepped in to design a private social network and create a gamified platform, allowing users to join causes, challenges, and to encourage each other in custom-user-created activities as well as company-driven objectives.

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WHY IS OPTUMIZEME AN APP?

The purpose of this app is to connect people within a company, but more specifically, to create a social network that encourages a healthy lifestyle practice. The upstream effect of this objective is to improve an individual’s health, and through that, to decrease the cost of the insurance provider’s expenditure towards potentially unnecessary procedures brought on by an unhealthy lifestyle.

UHG already had this platform which they were testing internally to improve the fitness levels of their employees before releasing the app externally to a wider audience across various platforms. Using the app, the company kept a track of the health and well-being of its employees by tracking their calorie-intake, exercise regimen (with or without a coach), while encouraging them to follow through their fitness goals.

DESIGN SPEAK

The most interesting aspect of this project is where it started, and where it ended, in terms of User-centric Design. From the initial tangled web of complex interactions and an unclear path on user goals, we moved towards a middle ground with a well-optimized, streamlined, intuitive (even if somewhat heavy), user-friendly app. Through careful analysis and the core interactions, the project requirements were synthesized with a streamlined user-centered design proposal.

WHAT WAS OUR STRATEGY?

The simplification of the product is a key aspect to understand how we strive for the perfect design, always! The stickiness is also obtained by this ease of use, plus the social aspect, driven by peer encouragement, UGC, and group activities.

Gamification, branding of the app as a UHG + Optum Health product, and an awesome user-centric design gave the app an ideal appeal and easily adoptable user experience.
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KEY FEATURES

    • Over 1,000 different lifestyle-type challenges from which you can choose.
    • Challenges could be as small as getting eight hours of sleep at night or some as committed as giving up caffeine or training for a marathon.
    • Quite beneficial for setting up personal fitness goals and following them strictly.

 

  • Socialize through the app by challenging friends, colleagues to take up tasks or achieve goals.
  • Train under a coach remotely – either in a small group of 5-6 people or individually.
  • Take advantage of the time-tracking feature to know how much time was spent on each activity, which activities of the routine are completed in how much time and when, etc.

 

 

CHALLENGES

Redesigning an already existing app with a special focus on UI and UX, though not a challenge per se, is not very easy – especially when the client isn’t too happy with the current design and wants us to redesign part(s) of it. Making the app appealing enough to make our client happy was the challenging part.

 

SOLUTION

At [x]cube we analyzed the existing app UHG had and identified opportunity to achieve the client’s vision with addition of a new module to the existing app. This would substantially save on their time to market as well as reduce any learning curve that an user might have with a completely new app. The static UI for all the screens were developed initially. Later, the screens were populated with data fetched from Server, using APIs provided by UHG.

RESULT

The app received excellent response with thousands of UHG customers downloading the app in the first few weeks of the launch. The engagement was high with many users inviting their friends and challenging them on various contests.