Please describe your company and your position there.
I am the Principal System Architect in the Connected Home team at Dorel Juvenile Group. Dorel Juvenile is a juvenile products manufacturer (car seats, strollers, baby gates, etc). We have 6 brands, Safety 1st being one of them. This was the first product designed and built by our company to re-enter the baby monitor market.
For what projects/services did your company hire 923 Digital?
923 Digital was brought in to design the UI/UX of our mobile application. They worked with our marketing department to conduct consumer testing to design the correct UI/UX for the app. We then hired them to also build our first App to take to launch. We do not have any software/mobile developers in our company.
What were your goals for this project?
The App was the only interface to our baby monitor (hardware) product. So the App was our product and we needed to stand out from all the competition who either had baby monitors that came with clunky video monitor units or had apps that weren't as slick. In short, we wanted to stand out from our competition.
How did you select this vendor?
923 Digital was referred to by another colleague on the team. They had worked with them before. We had quoted the project out to other larger companies. We ended up selecting primarily because they seemed like a boutique firm (lean and agile) and their price was a lot more competitive than the other vendors.
Describe the project in detail.
The project involved: 1. Consumer research to determine/prioritize features that would be helpful to first time parents. 2. UI/UX design including limited consumer testing to validate design. 3. Develop iOS/Android mobile applications 4. Develop backend using AWS managed services
What was the team composition?
The team comprised of a Technical Project Lead who was local to our office. We primarily dealt with him and he managed all the developer resources. We did have weekly meetings with him and the team (which was offshore). For the first 1.5 years, we had 2 iOS, 2 Android, 2 backend (java) and 2 QA engineers (9 people). They did bring in other resources on occasion to help with certain problems (this was excellent). The team eventually went down to 1 IOS, 1 Android, 1 Backend and 2 QA engineers.
Can you share any outcomes from the project that demonstrate progress or success?
On iOS we've maintained slightly above 4.0 rating consistently since launch. On Android, we've struggled to stay around 3.0... the problem with android has to do with the diversity of android hardware phones. Our app handles live video streaming and users with under performing phones have poor experience especially when compounded with poor network connectivity speed.
How effective was the workflow between your team and theirs?
We worked really well with them. They were very flexible and adapted very easily to our team needs. We used our company's Jira instance to track all our development. We had 2 week sprints that the project manager from 923 Digital led. We used our GitHub account to track all code. We used Slack to tie everything up. The team was always very responsive over Slack even during US hours.
What did you find most impressive about this company?
How agile they are. They are quick to implement features and they seem to always be reachable and responsive to any of our needs. Their team was also very invested in our project. I think if we had gone with one of the bigger companies (who were out of our budget), we would not have gotten a team that really extended our own internal team.
Are there any areas for improvement?
I can't think of anything at the moment. I don't think it's quite fair, but the team was not too familiar with hardware and live video streaming, so there were technical challenges we needed to overcome which took longer than I had hoped. This is a very niche need and we were also not paying accordingly.
Dorel decided to build a product for parents who want peace of mind from a reliable WiFi baby monitor. The Safety 1st monitor lets parents see and hear their baby at any time and from anywhere in crystal clear HD 720p video quality.
Our team was hired to introduce concepts, designs, and market research to Dorel's baby product group - Safety 1st. The scope was broad at first, looking into different technologies mothers use in 2014 and discovering what trends existed with new mothers.
Our suggestions ranged from baby habit tracking, to photography management and finally to hardware integrated solutions such as baby monitors.
The first baby monitor we designed solved a simple solution of getting a revolutionary listening device onto the market in tandem with the standard camera. The camera of course would record video and sound - but the listening device could be used by the mothers as a standalone device without use of a mobile phone.
The product was released in 2016 and sold in retail stores around the world including Target. It was reviewed by Business Insider, PCMAG and won a Family Choice Award as well as a Cribsie. It also got the National Parenting Seal of Approval has an average review of 4.5 on iPhone.