Capstone: The Home Depot Team

This semester is shaping up to be quite an exciting one for the Capstone program; many interesting projects are underway and my team and I have been assigned to take on a development project for America’s largest home improvement retailer, Home Depot. Home Depot has recently issued over 38,000 new Android-based Motorola smartphones, called First Phones, to its retail stores for employees to utilize in sales tracking, product ordering, tendering items at checkout, and accessing all sorts of other resources made available for use in assisting customers. They have expressed a need for improved accessibility options on these devices for disabled employees, and have reached out to the MIS Capstone students to conjure up an innovative solution that will integrate into their existing mobile platform.

After meeting with our contacts for this project at the Home Depot Headquarters in Atlanta, GA, our team has ascertained useful information to help get the project off the ground. We were able to learn that Home Depot has created their own overlay for the phone’s Android operating system that restricts user’s access to only approved applications on the device and that the majority of the code we will be working with this semester will be HTML5, CSS, Java, JavaScript, and utilization of the Android Studio software development kit. We have confirmed that we will have three total sprints for this project, each lasting about 4 weeks, and each focusing on a specific disability and containing one or several features to improve usability for those employees who have that disability. The team has installed all of the necessary development tools and has begun brainstorming for ideas on which disabilities should take priority and will become the focus for each sprint, as well as what accessibility options are available for them.

Many of the accessibility options are integrated into the Android operating system by default, but these features do not currently function in tandem with the proprietary application launcher software Home Depot has placed on the phones. My team is quite excited about what is to come these next few weeks, as we hope to get our first look at the code for this application launcher software and to get our hands on our own Android handsets, where we can jump into learning how these phones work and how to add content to the launcher. We are also excited to see what kind of accessibility implementations we can discover through our research, and eventually implement, that are not native to the device – we hope to bring something new to the table!

My team seems very strong, and for the short time we have gotten to know one another thus far, everyone appears very anxious and excited for the semester. I can tell I am going to learn a lot from our contacts at Home Depot, as they are developers themselves, but I can also tell my teammates will certainly be learning from one another because my team has a variety of skillsets and career backgrounds. Some of us have, while others have not, coded in Java. Some of us have never done mobile development where others have, but only with Android or iOS exclusively. I personally have a background in web development and bring the HTML5 and CSS knowledge to the group. We have all the pieces of skillsets we need to come together and provide an amazing solution that will increase the usability and navigability of Home Depot’s First Phones while also providing a range of improved and integrated accessibility options for those employees with specific disabilities.

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