In our experience at A&M, we have known the tendency of buses to be very bumpy rides. This is never a constant; it seems that many bus rides are smooth, but some quite jarring. We wanted to discover the ultimate problem behind this, and hopefully clarify a way to making bus rides more pleasant.
Our hack, called Brake Analysis, comprises of a Spark Core with accelerometer which reports the number of notable acceleration changes experienced over the course of a bus route circuit- from the beginning to end of a single looped route starting on A&M campus. These results are compiled and compared later so that trends may be observed; say, that a particular bus driver hits the brakes hard, or a specific bus has its brakes hit hard often by a range of drivers, indicating possible mechanical problems.
This hack is built physically out of a Spark Core chip combined with an accelerometer, and will require some power source in field testing. Code is done in Java (for Servlet design) and C (for accelerometer result collection), and put together in the Microsoft Azure Cloud platform. Specifically, a Mobile Service which compiles results taken from bus trips.
This hack was difficult to implement for us because we were previously unfamiliar with all of the software and hardware involved, and had not attempted projects in this line before. During development, as none of us had previously worked with Microsoft Azure, we spent a good deal of time working of unnecessary avenues which were not ultimately productive; a good deal of time was spent learning how to better direct our efforts. The programming itself proved difficult in the need to implement checks in the Spark Core which ensured that it cleared its memory after each run (due to limited storage space), but only when in range of appropriate signal (so that it successfully writes entries to memory, and does not delete them forever).
Numerous challenges were overcame during the creation of this hack, and our group learned a good deal. We now are much more comfortable with the Azure services, and with combining hardware experimentation with software implementation in order to tackle more realistic problems than may be encountered in class.
Ideally, our hack could be used to identify possible problems in A&M bus routes, or expanded to similar uses further afield. The principles behind the code (such as Microsoft Azure use and hardware integration) will in all probability be applied to a great deal more in our future academic and professional endeavors.