messE is a system ideated and developed at a week long workshop organized by MIT Media Labs in association with Nokia. This workshop brought together designers and developers to collaborate and identify key problems and come up with solutions pertaining to mobile ecosystems in a span of four days.

The MIT Media Lab Design Innovation workshop admitted 150 participants, who were evenly divided into 5 tracks. I was a part of the Mobile Ecosystems track which was headed by Amy Canham and Sujoy Kumar Choudhary. Our goal was to design and prototype user-centric ideas focussing on the process as well as the final deliverable.



My Role

I played an active role in opportunity finding as well as landing on our final solution. I performed our research activities as well as facilitated the user testing sessions along with my teammates. I was responsible for the interaction design of our mobile app and helped preparing the final presentation.


The Opportunity


Students waste money in hostel (dormitory) meal plans at universities by paying on a monthly/yearly basis and not utilizing all their meals. As a result, a substantial amount of food is also wasted in the hostel mess (canteen).


The Solution

messE provides students with a mobile platform to manage and plan their meal subscriptions and cancel meals that they will not use. This data is made available to the Hostel Food Manager who can then cook accordingly and avoid wastage. The system also provides for coordinated collaboration between messes and NGOs to get the left-over food to the needy.

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Cancel meals

Students can use the messE app to cancel meals beforehand which in turn informs the canteen. This avoids cooking of surplus food and curbs wastage.

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Distribute leftovers

The canteen managers can use the messE system to contact NGOs incase of surplus food who can then come pick up the food and distribute it to the needy. 

The designs reflect the 2013 era in India where not everyone could afford smartphones and people actively used these models. 




Research Process


We adopted the User Centred Design Methodology. It involved Persona and Scenario Creation. Based on our personas and scenarios, we conducted Interviews with our stakeholders. We then assembled all or findings from the interviews into an Affinity Diagram. This Affinity Mapping helped us generate ideas for our app and we were able to figure out what user needs we should focus on.




After going through all the data gathered from our research, we finalized how our app would work. We started with low-fidelity paper prototypes and then came up with digital mid-fidelity prototypes.

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old screens.png

Above Left: Flow diagram of our
paper prototypes showing the
connections and communication
flows within the system.

Above Right: Mid-fidelity prototype of the app. 

Left: The Non-Smart Phone (SMS) prototype for students.


User Testing


Once we had our prototype, we performed multiple rounds of user testing with students as well as hostel food managers. Based on insights from this tesing, we came up with our final design.


Final Demo


The workshop ended with an expo where we presented our work to hundreds of visitors. We ended up creating an android app which reflected our designs. We received an honorable mention from Nokia for our idea and solution. 


The Team


From left to right: Harikrishna Prabhu, Naman Govil, Jeel Jasani, Mannu Amrit