December 19, 2018: Annual Hackathon

December 19, 2018: Annual Hackathon

In what has become an annual Shockoe tradition, we will be holding our annual hackathon in late fall 2018! We look forward to showing off the results from this year, but if you’re eager to learn more, check out our 2017 work from our “Civic Hack.”

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Event Recap: Digital App Design for Academic Research

Event Recap: Digital App Design for Academic Research

About the Event

This discussion was on the ins and outs of designing custom digital applications for academic research. In 2017, VCUarts Department of Music Professor Susanna Klein partnered with app consultancy Shockoe to design and develop a custom application for a rigorous study on “The Power of Information for Goal Oriented Processes in Music Education.”

Shockoe began an engagement with VCUArts professor and researcher Susanna Klein to create an application that would allow her to study the role of technology inhabit reinforcement for student musicians. The project was a blast to work on, and it pushed our team to work better, smarter, and faster. Project manager, Rebecca Thompson, implemented new and effective PM techniques, while designers Mason Brown and Dan Cotting and developer Justin Boswell pushed through to create and build a product from scratch. Once the app was finished, Susanna was able to implement the tool in her study, and thus far results have been encouraging. This past week, Shockoe was very excited to speak on a panel at the annual edUi conference, which highlights tools, techniques, and theories for UX and UI at universities, libraries, and museums.

The panel started with a summary of the project, its genesis, and what the relationship of a large public research institution was like with a private product firm. Susanna talked about how she leveraged Shockoe’s expertise in technology and design to help solve a problem she had seen with students and performers over her decades of music experience. Throughout her career, she had noticed that practice time was often wasted on inefficient of unfocused time spent with the instrument as well as habits that often led to injury or poor mental health around progression.

Susanna came to Shockoe with a multitude of ideas involving an array of technologies including Microsoft Kinect, AR, and other sensor-based solutions, it was her engagement with Shockoe’s design team that helped her narrow into a product she could deliver to students quickly and one that could be used to study these habits in order to create an effective study.

Dan touched on that original ask of the project, and how working alongside her with his team, Shockoe was able to introduce several product design concepts to help solidify an approach. One featured heavily in the panel was the effectiveness of user interviews and how that created a strong journey for all participants to center around when designing and developing the “V-Coach” application. The learnings from the user interviews largely drove design decisions that would ultimately be reported favorably by research participants.

Mason then walked through several features of the app, showcasing how Shockoe used the UX strategy research, and turned it into an effective end-to-end product design that would satisfy users while effectively delivering for the study. Susanna then shared the current status of the results of the study, which are still being processed by statisticians, but the qualitative surveys issued have illustrated success so far. The team of VCU and Shockoe were able to produce an application that was able to solve practice woes brought to the table by Susanna while being easy to use and effective throughout students’ practice sessions.

During the QA, audience members were able to engage with the panel, asking questions relating to Shockoe’s processes, timelines, research methods, and outcomes. It was a great opportunity to share some great outcomes with some great professionals in the field of design.

About the Speakers

Susanna Klein
Area Coordinator of Strings, Assistant Professor, VCUarts

suzanna klein - digital

Susanna Klein is the assistant professor of violin and coordinator of strings at her alma mater, Virginia Commonwealth University. She has 15 years of professional orchestral performing experience and currently enjoys focusing on chamber music performance with her trailblazer group ACE.

Klein served as principal second violin of the Richmond Symphony for five years. Previous orchestral appointments have been with the Colorado, Memphis, Vermont, and Rhode Island Symphony Orchestras. She has been a member of two string quartets: Artist-in-Residence with the Oberon String Quartet at St. Catherines School in Richmond, Va. and violist with the Seneca String Quartet in Boston, MA.

Professor Klein is an active researcher, writer, and pedagogue. She has recently launched the YouTube Channel Practice Blitz, dedicated to efficient practice routines for string players.

Mason Brown
UX/UI Designer, Shockoe

Mason BrownMason Brown is an experience designer at Shockoe. Whether it’s designing applications for musicians, credit union members, or enterprise employees, Mason is passionate about creating quality tools that provide significant improvement to whatever task is at hand. With years of experience in systems and product design, Mason works with clients to identify business problems, understand the needs of the user and craft products that benefit both. You can find him on the James River from 5 a.m. to 8 a.m. nearly every morning coaching collegiate, high school and para rowers while continuing his quest to see every single James River otter.


Dan Cotting
Director of Immersive Technology, Shockoe

Dan CottingWith over a decade of customer and user experience strategy under his belt, Dan Cotting is Shockoe’s Director of Immersive Technology and resident “future-tech-crazy-person.” Dan fully believes that virtual and augmented reality will pave the way for an entirely new approach to business operations: improving the lives of both employees and consumers, while simultaneously increasing business efficiency and productivity. When he isn’t dreaming about this “Ready Player One” future, Dan spends his free time playing bass guitar, practicing 18th-century photographic techniques, brewing beer, and enjoying time with his wife Kelly and their five rescue pets. He holds a B.S. from Boston University and an M.S. from Virginia Commonwealth University.




Event Recap: VR in Entertainment

Event Recap: VR in Entertainment

To kick off the summer Shockoe and industry experts took an in-depth look at the state of VR in the entertainment industry — from cinema and storytelling to gaming and beyond. We brought together Richmond industry professionals who are using this exciting medium to its fullest potential and pioneering the next generation of VR.

Mark Lambert and his team at VArtisans took a deeper dive into how they’re using Virtual Reality and 360º video to transport users to exciting locations around the world. VArtisans is a Virginia based team of 360 video and VR artists, programmers, and cinematographers brought together to explore new ways of storytelling in 360 video and VR. Mark has decades of VFX and film production experience, working on dozens of projects including Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, Polar Express, and Narnia: The Lion, The Witch & The Wardrobe. Over the last year, the VArtisans team has visited 14 countries to film both monoscopic and stereo 360 video. From Uganda to the streets of Paris, Rome, Tokyo and the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, VArtisans are currently producing an array of 360 video projects as well as multiple art and experimental pieces. With each new project, they take the opportunity to explore new uses, innovating new techniques and concept improved methods to tell stories with this immersive format. Mark sees a huge audience potential in the rising VR & AR market and 360 video is the beginning wave. Since Google and Facebook added 360 support, usage of VR has taken a steep adoption from users worldwide. The technology, the language, and the experience will be evolving rapidly and VArtisans is excited to explore this world in it’s earliest stages.

Following the presentation, Robbie Ciszek, Tyler Rhodes, and Momin Khan of RVA Game Jams took the stage to share a day-in-the-life of a VR game developer. RVA Game Jams, a community project created in 2012 to bring together passionate video game developers and enthusiasts from the Richmond area. It has grown to be one of the city’s leading groups in video game development and emerging game technology. From development to hardware, they were eager to share more details from some of their latest projects and additionally, presented some of their latest work with the participating audience.

Event Recap: Southeastern Credit Union Conference

Event Recap: Southeastern Credit Union Conference


Mobile Apps at SCUCE

Last week we had the pleasure of attending the Southeast CU Conference & Expo. SCUCE is one of the largest credit union conferences in the country and is a great opportunity to interact with and exchange innovative ideas with credit union leaders from across the country. One of the main goals of this annual conference is to discuss the latest technologies, applications, and resources available to credit unions to improve their operations and efficiencies and better serve their members. At Shockoe, we are committed to innovation through mobile technology and customer-centric solutions, so we were excited to participate in this event and share our experience developing the mobile app for Virginia Credit Union.


Why is mobile technology for credit unions now more important than ever?

There is no question: mobile technology has become as ubiquitous as the wallet in one’s pocket or purse. With 95% of Americans carrying a cell phone (77% of which are smartphones), credit unions should be feeling the pressure to deliver great app experiences to their customers.

According to the BBC, in 2011, 22 million UK adults turned to their cell phones to manage their finances, and this number is expected to rise to as many as 35 million by 2023 — a whopping total of 73% of the country’s population.

Here in 2018, Gen-X is increasingly impacting the direction of the U.S. workforce. More dollars are being invested with financial institutions, and younger users are looking to maintain greater oversight of their finances in the way they know best — mobile interfaces. In fact, The CACI estimates that by 2019 mobile will overtake traditional online banking. A shockingly rapid change since 2013 when approximately only 50% of online users opted for mobile as their platform of choice versus web.


On the side of change

In addition to rethinking their IT strategies, Credit Unions need to prepare for a shift operational strategies as well. Branches will play a decreasingly relevant role in money management for the active workforce — money that could be shifted to embracing security, IT infrastructure, and mobile strategy that keeps banking operations lean and effective.

It’s clear that today’s digital-centric credit union consumers have higher expectations of their institutional providers. To appeal to these consumers, businesses will need to find innovative approaches to digital customer engagement. Custom mobile apps allow for a tailored, personalized, customer-centric experience that is unique to the brand. Pair this with customized employee productivity apps, and the entire operation works seamlessly to meet customer needs and build brand loyalty. The credit unions that are able to adopt this “outside-the-box” thinking will be more likely to succeed in this new, highly competitive consumer landscape.


How can Shockoe help your credit union?

In working with a local credit union, Virginia Credit Union, (one of the 55 largest Credit Unions in the country), we’ve conducted significant discovery to determine what members expect out of their banking app. VACU approached us to help their customers integrate a credit card management option and improve their overall mobile application. VACU was using Fiserv as their core banking system and quickly realized that they were limited in what they could do with their mobile technology. We learned at SCUCE that this is a very common theme at most credit unions. As credit unions outgrow the “out of the box” solution, they search for a more tailored way to connect with their members to uphold customer loyalty and provide a seamless mobile banking experience. That’s where Shockoe comes in. We augment your development teams and partner together with your core banking system to provide you with a custom app carefully designed to fit your members’ needs.

Our connections at SCUCE confirmed our assertions about the importance of custom mobile apps, and we’d love to continue to share our knowledge and expertise with the greater credit union community. Whether it’s helping with API strategy, development, security, or UX/UI design – we’re here to help find innovative approaches to attracting and retaining customers and improving the day-to-day employee experience. At Shockoe, we strongly believe that the credit unions that embrace custom mobile apps will have customers that are more engaged and more loyal, allowing these credit unions to thrive in a highly competitive environment. If you’re interested in exploring how custom apps might be able to help your credit union, give us a call to chat about how we can help!