Venture Stories

Low-Fi Prototypes for High-Tech Solutions

12/08/2022

Experimenting fast with GORIL, a digital tool teaching native-Japanese speakers better English pronunciation.


Key Takeaways:

  1. Interview potential users early on to help steer the direction of your product concept.
  2. Having potential users engage with prototypes can draw new insights and validate assumptions quicker.
  3. If resources and time are low, get creative and experiment fast!

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English Is Most Commonly Used Worldwide, But Is It Spoken With Confidence?

Working in a multicultural and global environment like Moon Creative Lab has shown us just how important the English language can be when it comes to team communication and coordination. GORIL, a Moon Creative Lab venture, is aiming to support native-Japanese speakers looking to develop a more natural pronunciation of their English. Through the power of GORIL, participants will be able to communicate more clearly and confidently in any setting.

You might be surprised to find that English is the most commonly used language across our studios, especially because we are an established Japanese company and a majority of our team members' native language is Japanese. Many of us have had to step outside of our comfort zones to speak English at a level where we felt confident to communicate with different team members around the world and effectively work together.

We believe that in order to have a more diverse team with people from different backgrounds and nationalities, English is possibly the most important skill we all share.  

And in today’s globalized world, many of us rely on English to be able to communicate in various settings, including traveling to various countries and navigating different business environments. Some might assume that most people speak English, but that’s generally not true. While a large percentage of the world can speak English, we are unsure of the population’s proficiency and confidence in speaking the language.

We have to remember that learning English is not easy. And learning a different language is not only about vocabulary and grammar, but context, idioms, popular expressions, and pronunciation, especially, are key.

So we asked ourselves, how might we build a tool that supports pronunciation and articulation of the English language?

Interview Potential Users Early On To Help Steer the Direction of Your Product Concept 

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Our team has been hard at work designing GORIL to become the first tool that supports goal-oriented learners to improve their English pronunciation and articulation. During our product concept development stage, we connected with many potential users and discovered the importance of personalized learning. Normally, personalized learning would come from a tutor or teacher. However, in order to reach as many users as possible, we had our biggest key learning yet: understanding that technology itself should be convenient and effective.

Having Potential Users Engage With Prototypes Can Draw New Insights and Validate Assumptions Quicker

At Moon, we believe that listening to our users and tailoring solutions to respond to their needs is the ultimate goal for each and every project we incubate. In order to optimize processes and validate ideas faster, we focus on building prototypes that support us. These prototypes are a mockup of our concepts to illustrate the vision and story we’re trying to tell. Users can then engage with our prototypes and in turn, we can collect real feedback to validate assumptions, find potential flaws, and discover new insights.  

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When Resources and Time Are Low, Get Creative and Experiment Fast!

For GORIL, we decided to use technology that required voice recognition, which meant that creating a high-fidelity interactive prototype would require a lot of team resources and time. Since “Experimenting Fast” is a Moon value we embrace, we went back to one of our early reflections: learning through tutoring. We decided that we would create our first prototype by running an English lesson through tutoring. The tutor was our program manager and native bilingual, Chiaki, and the materials were static slides containing our methodologies.

It took us only one week to deliver a few classes and find a lot of insights that supported us in the further development of GORIL. We learned that talking to our users and understanding their life experiences, motivations, and pain points helped shape the direction of our product development. We also learned to not let time and limited resources hold us back from experimenting and testing our ideas!

If you’d like to continue following GORIL’s product journey, be sure to check out our website to learn more.

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