A ShipIt at Oracle’s Mexico Development Center

Editor’s note: Our team participated in many of the Summer of Innovation events held by Laurie (@lsptahoe) and her team. Here’s a report from Luis (@lsgaleana) on the Mexico Development Center (MDC) ShipIt held in mid-August. Enjoy.

Oracle Mexico Development Center (MDC) has grown to bring together some 700 employees, and it continues to grow weekly. However, there is only a single point of entry for every non-employee person, the receptionist.

Every visitor that comes to MDC goes roughly through the same process. The person talks to the receptionist. The receptionist goes to the corporate directory to find the employee being visited. The employee meets the person at the lobby. This is a pretty straightforward job and it is similar for regular visitors, delivery personnel and interview candidates, which are the user roles we picked for our ShipIt project.

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The days before the ShipIt event, Rafael Belloni (Rafa) gathered the Mariachis team, Osvaldo Villagrana (Os), Oscar Vargas, Juan Pablo Martinez (Juampi) and myself, and talked to us about his idea of a virtual kiosk that would serve as an entry point for every visitor. It would consist of a screen with a simple but elegant user interface, that in the background would take care of the tedious and repetitive job of finding people in the corporate directory, contacting them, printing badges, saving the information into a log and even entertaining visitors with a video about Oracle and all its wonders.

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Technically, we wanted to have an Android app loaded onto a Nexus Player, which Oscar owned, connected to a touch-screen monitor, that Rafa had recently bought (with the ShipIt in mind, of course). This 3-part device would represent the kiosk. In the background, we would have web services to scrape the corporate directory, notify employees via e-mail, IM and text, print a badge for the visitor, and save all of the information into a log. One final part was a web panel, where HR personnel could schedule interviews and assign interviewers.

The day of the event, we started putting things together. However, as is common in this kind of events, issues started arising quickly.

To enable touch in the touch-screen monitor, a USB cable was needed between the monitor and the device controlling it. But the Nexus Player has no input for a USB. We debated on our options and concluded that we would try to make it work (somehow). In the mean time, we would try to have Android running on a Raspberry Pi connected to the monitor. If all failed, we would make a web app running on a laptop. In the end, Oscar came up with BlueStacks, an Android emulator for the PC, on which we could easily install an Android app. We went with that.

Rafa worked on the web panel for the interviews; Os worked on the web services, the pdf conversion, and IM and e-mail communication; Juampi did the design; and Oscar and I made the Android app. We all had our series of problems, but we discussed them among all. We all proposed solutions, but it always came down to the easiest and quickest.

The day went by and we called it for the night around 3am.

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The next day, after breakfast, the kiosk was coming together. The design was ready, we had screens to show, the web panel was working and most of the web services were in place. We just needed to put everything together and polish some features.

We rehearsed the presentation about an hour before the scheduled time. Rafa did all the talking, I controlled the demo, and Os showed the e-mails, IM messages and pdf. We were number 3 of 5 to present. All teams made their voting. The time came to announce the winners: 3rd, UAE Tacklers; 2nd, Team Roller; 1st, Mariachis.

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In the end, we skimmed the project. We decided that it was a bit too much to print the badge – generating a pdf was cool enough. We also discarded the texting, saving information to a log and the Oracle video. However, these features can easily be added in production.

This is how it looked:

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