inky phone mockup

Inky design challenge

Connecting kids
around the world

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The challenge

How do you boost machine learning and AI, connect foreign language speakers and harness the opportunities of a ‘walkie talkie’ interaction?


The brief was to design an app prototype which allows a user to communicate with another person speaking a different language using a ‘walkie-talkie’ interaction (one person speaks and then the other person speaks) in 3 days.


A game which helps kids to develop conversation skills by speaking to children in foreign countries.

Article published in UX Collective. Over 1k views so far.


Louise Hill


UX Research, Strategy, Branding, UI Design

Kid playing Inky on their phone

What could be the value of using a ‘walkie-talkie’ interaction?

Talking to someone from a different country allows the speaker to be an immediate expert on their own way of life, helping conversational confidence. Hiccups in communication are expected, lowering pressure. This provides the perfect space for young people still developing these skills to feel at ease.

Conversation challenges for young people with autism, ADHD and some other mental health disabilities may include knowing when to talk at the ‘appropriate’ moment or having difficulties reading body language. A ‘walkie-talkie’ interaction would remove these barriers and provide a comfortable space to practise new social skills and make friends.

Message received screen Editing screen for mis-translations Inky message send screen

Removing language as a barrier to connecting

The company I did the challenge for creates translation products for businesses using machine learning and AI. Its wider goal is to stop speaking a foreign language being a barrier to communication.

The app would help young people communicate more effectively with foreign language speakers. It could also help remove other barriers to understanding, positioning the company as a key player in the facilitation of communication as technology advances.

As an AI-driven company, processing quality data is essential. Younger age groups could provide a wider selection of language patterns and vocabulary with which to train neural networks/algorithms. Also, users with different socialising styles could potentially produce a richer variety of interaction data. This might help ensure future translation results are not biased in favour of those who are more confident socially.

Collection of Inky stickers

“I’m really competitive”

Thomas, 12, Manchester

An interview with Thomas, aged 12, highlighted a problem to solve in ideation: Thomas is incredibly competitive but also very chatty and sociable. He has had to quit sporting activities in the past because they have taken over too much of his life and prevented him from hanging out with friends. He also believes he is addicted to Fortnite and realises that playing it takes up a huge amount of his time. So I wanted to reward Thomas for being sociable in a game, rather than for being competitive.

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