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Blog – bippy

Our Hopes for Bippy

By: Varsha Nekkanti


In our third blog post, we explained what the experience of testing our “proof of concept” of Bippy on an nine-year-old boy with ADHD was like. The main takeaway from this particular test was that, despite the voice of Bippy being automated, the boy emotionally responded to the computer screen. Additionally, he responded to Bippy verbally when we asked him questions, highlighting the impact that the presence of Bippy had on the boy.


At our current stage in product development, we are working to refine our prototype based on the adaptations we decided upon when testing. Once we complete this phase, our main focus is to get our physical product in the hands of elementary school children with ADHD in order to gain metrics on how much Bippy improves the focus of the student.


With our company being so early in the startup process, we are unsure of what the next few months might look like–let alone the next few years. However, our love for Bippy and passion for our company vision gives us the hope and tenacity to address any future challenges proactively and constructively. Our dream is that Bippy will revolutionize the learning experience for students with learning differences. Beyond addressing ADHD, we are thinking about expanding into addressing other learning differences in the future, such as dyslexia. We are excited about the future of Bippy ahead, and hope you are too!


The Importance of Mentors in the Realm of Entrepreneurship

By: Varsha Nekkanti


Throughout the four weeks of the LaunchX entrepreneurship program, we had the opportunity to meet with entrepreneurs, industry specialists, and experienced business professionals to discuss company progress and get feedback on our prototype/idea. Bippy’s mock board panel consisted of Alec Lai, the CEO and Founder of Project R, and Ashley Evans, former Director of Product Marketing for the School by Design in the Greater Boston Area. With their specialized knowledge in the industry of education, our mentors were able to provide our team with immense guidance and feedback that was essential to the growth of Bippy.


During our first mock board meeting, we pitched the initial problem statement our team had chosen to work on, which was the stress that high school students face. However, after receiving feedback from our two mentors, our team took a step back and decided to reevaluate our idea. By the time the second mock board meeting came around, we had completely changed our problem statement to be the issue of ADHD, conducted primary market research with a different target audience, and were beginning to start the process of prototyping for the product idea we devised. Our mentors were very receptive and welcoming toward our choice to pivot. Additionally, they were able to provide us with immense guidance on where we could test our prototype and how we could contact more potential customers to understand the features they would want in an ideal product.


From our experience working with an extremely helpful team of mentors and receiving feedback from interns and staff members at LaunchX, we were able to identify a clear mission for our company under which all our tasks have aligned. Regardless of the members that make up your team, having mentors for your startup is crucial to the process of developing your idea and prototype. After all, experience with entrepreneurship can only come from doing it–not reading about it in a textbook.


Overall, Team Bippy is pleased to say that our LaunchX mentor, Alec Lai, has joined our team as a mentor/advisor. We are thrilled to have an individual with so much excitement and expertise in both the realm of startups and the industry of education on our team. We can’t wait to see the things we will be able to accomplish under Alec’s guidance!


Putting Bippy to the Test

By: Varsha Nekkanti


On Friday, August 10th, Team Bippy pitched to a panel of judges at the LaunchX Demo Day at MIT. Over the course of two weeks, we 3D printed two shells of Bippy and focused on bringing Bippy to life.


However, the key aspect of our company’s development that we are currently working on is testing our product. We have been setting up tests with elementary school children with ADHD over the last couple of weeks, hoping to gain valuable insight on the effectiveness of our product. Our first test was with an 11 year old boy. For this particular test, the boy had a computer open displaying a color on the screen. The purpose of this was to test the lighting feature that Bippy has. In the actual product, parents would input a particular task that the child has to complete and the time period in which the child has to do it in. The light would be green, yellow, or red to indicate the child’s progress with that particular assignment (for more information on Bippy’s features, please refer to Blog Post #2).


We noticed that the boy made eye contact with the screen 11 times when the color was green and 3 times when the color was yellow. Additionally, we found that for the first half of the test, the boy looked up at screen whenever the audio played, but did not look up at the screen for the second half. This indicates that the boy became more comfortable and trusting of the robot.


Our second test was with a boy who was nine years old. An important discovery we made from this particular test was that the boy emotionally responded to the screen, despite it not being a human presence. The boy responded out loud to the questions that the screen asked, and responded to the camera by holding up his worksheet after he completed a set of math problems. When the program asked the boy if he was sure that he did a particular problem correctly, the boy responded with doubt, indicating the clear impact that the screen had on him. For our future tests, we would like to test our actual Bippy prototype (beyond just the concept our company is based upon), how different voices affect the student, and gain metrics on how much Bippy actually improves the focus of the student.


Bippy 1.0

By: Varsha Nekkanti


Based on our primary market research, largely with moms of children with ADHD and health professionals, we decided on a select list of features to incorporate in our first rendition of Bippy.


Feature #1: App Connection (Incentives and Task Management). Our robot, Bippy, will be connected to an IOS application that will be managed by the parents. The purpose of this app is to allow parents to input tasks that their child needs to work on, and the time period that the child has to complete each task. These tasks will then be relayed to the child through the robot. Additionally, parents can add incentives on the app for the child to work toward a larger goal when completing his or her homework.


Feature #2: Camera. The camera on Bippy allows the student to indicate completion of a task. Once the student is ready to “submit” their task, he or she would click the button on Bippy and then proceed to hold up his/her paper to the camera. This picture would then be relayed back to the app, where the parents can confirm that the assignment was adequately completed. This feature was incorporated primarily to create a sense of accountability for the child and to allow the parent to stay involved in their child’s life.


Feature #3: Reminders. Based on the task that is inputted in the app by the parent, reminders will be relayed to the child periodically to ensure that the child stays focused. These reminders will range from being indications of the task that the child should be working on, questions to check the progress of the child, and checks for understanding.


Feature #4: Lighting System. The lighting system will be featured on the robot so that the child can directly see it. Essentially, a green, yellow, or red light will be displayed on the robot to indicate progress. Based on how closely the child is sticking to the timings allocated by the parent through the app, a different color will be displayed. The underlying purpose of the lighting system is to have a form of visual cues to instigate focus.


We are planning to test these features and make changes accordingly based on the outcome of these tests in the next few months.

The Day Bippy was Born

By: Varsha Nekkanti

Elementary school children, especially students with ADHD, face the constant struggle of staying focused when completing their school work at home. Attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder is a learning disability that affects the attention span, impulses, and memory of an individual, thus serving as a barrier for students with this disability both in and out of the classroom. Upon speaking to mothers of children with ADHD, we found that children with ADHD struggle to have confidence in their abilities, stay focused on classroom instruction, learn in a style that is tailored to their needs, strengthen their social skills, and fit in with their peers.

Within the school environment itself, some children with ADHD have personalized instruction and learning due to 504 plans (plans vary by school). However, in their work environment at home, elementary school students do not have the same level of support from their teacher, making it difficult to complete homework. In the eyes of working parents, ensuring that their child with ADHD stays focused on his or her tasks is overwhelming, especially with their already overbooked schedule. From this specific problem, Bippy was derived.

Bippy, your focus companion, is a robot that utilizes incentives and periodic reminders to help that children with ADHD stay focused on their homework and parents of children with ADHD stay updated with the child’s work progress. Often times, students with ADHD are extremely capable and have the necessary knowledge to finish their work–however, they forget the task they are supposed to be working on. As a result of this, mothers of kids with ADHD emphasized the importance of constantly reminding their children to complete their work. Additionally, one tactic that is effective in promoting focus is using incentives. By providing motivation for the child to complete their work, they are more likely to stay focused on their work and finish it in a timely manner.

Essentially, our company strives to improve the educational experience for children with learning disabilities. And Bippy is our means of doing so. We hope that our product can help children with ADHD across the nation stay focused on their work, feel confident in their abilities, and enjoy their school experience.