NASA MindMapr

UX Design
UI Design

NASA needed an application to facilitate the quick and reliable transcription of conversations during rapid-fire roundtable discussions conducted at Launch Forum events. Bolster Labs (Chalk + Chisel) and I were up to the task.


In 2011 & 2012, NASA served as host to the Launch Forum, a multi-day event during which teams of academics and inventors could present their products and ideas to an audience of industry experts, entrepreneurs, and investors in order to make connections and advance the development to market of new ideas with world-changing potential. Bolster Labs was part of this effort, contracted to design and develop an iPad application which could be used to rapidly take notes during breakout sessions throughout the day, in order to document outcomes and share the insights offered during them with the project teams. Partner contractors could then pull insights made throughout the day and use them as part of NASA's social media outreach for the event.

Designing for Note-Taking

With me working on the UX and visual design of the project, Bolster got to work building an app that enabled note-takers to quickly and easily keep track of the rapid-fire conversations that take place during the conferences.

It wasn't long before we realized that taking notes directly on the iPad screen would prove difficult; while the device was certainly capable of keeping up with the rate of discussion, note-taker's fingers would have difficulty avoiding mistakes.

A Physical Solution

What resulted was not only an iPad application, but an entire system of equipment and support tools for note-taking. Consideration was given to every angle: from what device form factors would be ideal for the setting, to the sort of keyboard that worked best and was most space-efficient.

This enabled note-takers to take better notes, and greatly reduced the frequency of transcription mistakes. As a bonus, it also gained us a significant amount of screen real-estate, because we no longer needed to show the on-screen keyboard when the wireless one was connected.

On-Site Insight

Bolster provided on-site setup and monitoring of the system, and so I was able to tag along to multiple events to see in-person how the application was used, and find ways to improve it.