Thursday, February 16, 2012

Mentimeter Is An Easy To Use Audience Polling Service

Mentimeter was created as a tool to interact with and engage an audience. While attending the Royal Institute of Technology in Sweden the four founders discovered that they were not being actively engaged by the teachers. After seeing the same thing occur in their professional lives they set out to change how speakers interact with audiences. The solution needed to be simple, fast, and always available. They also didn't want it tied to a classroom; it had be accessible to anyone anywhere.

Steve Jobs and Apple's creations strongly inspired them to design products with "a holistic user experience", says co-founder Johnny Warström. As you use the product you will notice everything from the text entry to the gently animated dynamically resizing chart just works. The other founders are Henrik Fräsén (management and digital marketing), Niklas Ingvar (design and testing) and Kristoffer Renholm (architect and coder); Johnny heads up marketing and customer interaction.

Mentimeter allows you to quickly create custom polls using a web interface. Once the poll is created a unique code is given for the group being polled to enter at to access the voting page on their mobile phone, tablet, or any connected device. A QR code is generated as well for anyone that has a reader app. The public results URL is provided for people to see the results while a special administrative one is created for updating, closing, or resetting the pole. Code for embedding the results is provided for easy publication which I have included below the post; be sure to vote over to the right.

The architecture has been built to allow for incremental expansion using a Ruby (Sinatra) REST API hosted on Heroku and a PHP frontend. All content is published from the frontend, but Wordpress is used in the background for their content management system. Raphaël Javascript is used to get the presentation view to scale correctly on all sized devices; AJAX polling updates the view when live votes come in. Finally, Backbone.js syncs the Document Object Model with the API.

Looking to the future they want to maintain Mentimeter's simplicity while adding more interesting features. Some of those features will be user accounts so that people that want to can more easily retrieve questions, saving and comparing historical data is on the horizon, as is additional question controls for professional lecturers. Mentimeter has a blog and is on Twitter.

This video shows how it looks in real-time when numerous votes come in:

Mentimeter promotional video:

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