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<aside> 🌱 Hongyu Mao, Cathryn Lin, Rebecca Jiang, and Cheryl Zhang make up the team that won XHacks last year. Their project, Pascal, is a mood tracking app and Chrome plug-in that helps users filter the kinds of content they are shown on video streaming platforms. Read below to learn more about XHacks and tips for success!


🌸 Could you each introduce yourself with your name, year, major, and any specific role you might have played on your XHacks team?

🪐 Hongyu I’m Hongyu, and I'm a second year Masters student in Computational Design, so I have experience in UX design.

🐙 Cathryn I’m Cathryn, and I'm a Junior in IS and HCI. In the project I played the role of UX designer, but I think we split up roles pretty evenly within the team so everyone was able to participate in all aspects of the project.

🍉 Rebecca I'm Rebecca, and I'm a Junior in IS and HCI.

🎨 Cheryl I’m Cheryl, and I'm a Junior in BHA for Humanities Analytics and Flute Performance with a minor in HCI. I originally came up with the idea for the project, but then we all threw a lot of ideas around to come up with our final design.

🌸 Why did each of you sign up for XHacks?

🐙 Cathryn I joined HCI that semester, and I didn't have a lot of UX experience before that. I saw that XHacks is a 24-hour challenge and thought it would be a great way to experience the full design cycle and brainstorming process in a short amount of time. Brainstorming can last for a few months in classes, so I really wanted to challenge myself to brainstorm in a short amount of time.

🍉 Rebecca Before XHacks, I had no idea what a hackathon was, because from my previous knowledge, I thought all the hackathons dealt mostly with coding. I wanted to know more about what a design hackathon would look like and what we could do within 24 hours.

🪐 Hongyu I heard about XHacks through Catherine, so I decided to join and form a team with everyone and work on a project.

🎨 Cheryl Last spring was the semester I declared my HCI minor and the first semester where I started to do HCI. I wanted to get more involved with HCI, so I decided to participate in XHacks.

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🌸 What was the theme for XHacks last year, and what was your project?

🍉 Rebecca The theme last year was concerned with accessibility. We thought it was a pretty vague theme, and we didn’t really know how to define accessibility, because it can basically be anything. We ended up creating a mood tracker for video streaming platforms like YouTube so users could use a plugin to avoid seeing content that may be triggering for them. We were targeting people with mood issues, so we also designed an app that could track users’ moods separate from the plugin.

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🐙 Cathryn We came up with the idea because we were trying to think of a common problem that's relevant to accessibility. We may all encounter some kind of discomfort when looking at videos, and that sense of discomfort is unique to each person. For example, I may not want to look at job searching videos, but YouTube will push that on me because it thinks that I’m looking for a job. This unique discomfort is not targeted by the existing algorithms in video platforms, so we wanted to address that individual factor and help users filter out contents that may cause negative emotions. At the same time, the app would track users’ moods and help them understand themselves better.

🌸 What tools did you use to build your project**?**

🍉 Rebecca We used Figma to create a functioning prototype, and we ended up with a Chrome plug-in and a mobile app. We didn’t have any coding component in ours, although some other teams had code in their work.

🌸 How did you come up with a project, and what was the brainstorming process like?