The inspiration for our project came several months ago, when one of our group members had trouble finding data for a project he was making, comparing what age groups enjoyed what movies. He realized that there was no convenient way to crowd-source data for individuals like himself. When he brought this idea to our team at CruzHacks, we all agreed that there was potential for innovation.
What it does
Our project, Change4Change, is a nonprofit that allows users to answer questions or surveys through their Google Home or Alexa. For each question they answer, a small amount of money gets donated to charity. Our surveys are designed so that they can be completed while doing other simple tasks, such as cooking dinner or doing the laundry. Individuals or Companies who wanted to gather data can pay for us to put a survey on our platform. Although the data we gather may not be totally comprehensive, we hope to make our service cheap enough that local businesses and other small organizations can afford to utilize our data research.
How we built it
We built our platform from the ground up. We started with our server-side software, which was then connected to the Alexa skills and Google Home actions. We decided to utilize both of these smart home devices in order to make our product accessible to as many users as possible. From there, we developed a mobile app (for both IOS and Android) that acts as a hub between the other building blocks of our project. We tailored the back-end to meet the needs of the front-end, and then created a separate back end to deal with payment processing through Hedera. We used firebase, node.js, apache, and java to form the back-end, although we are platform agnostic, and open to switching to technologies that better fit our project in the future.
Challenges we ran into
Throughout our entire project, every step was a challenge. Because most of our team are beginner coders experiencing our first hackathon, we were learning just as much as we were coding. Each member of our team was assigned a different part of our project, and throughout the process, we all ran into our own unique challenges. For example, Surya had difficulty coding the Alexa skill, but eventually created a good final product using lots of research, practice, and revision. Kailas and Aman experienced problems with the back-end and authentication, but eventually managed to come up with a solution that they were both satisfied with. Despite the challenges we faced at every turn, our team is proud of what we put out as the final product.
Accomplishments that we're proud of
Our group has a lot to be proud of. As a group, we overcame some major obstacles, such as the development of the Alexa skill, the implementation of the Hedera interface, correcting our authentication system, and more. However, our biggest accomplishment in our eyes is the fact that we implemented so many different systems and subsystems in a way that all smoothly fit together for the final project. Our team went into this project trying to learn, and so the fact that we have gained so much experience and knowledge in the past two days is a big point of pride for us.
What we learned
As mentioned earlier, our team went into this project trying to learn. Even with this in mind, we were surprised by the amount of experience and knowledge we gained. Going into this project, many members of our team would have never thought that they would be able to accomplish what they did. We were all amazed at the amount of features that were realized in the final product, from an enhanced understanding of the intricacies of back-end development, to the creation of voice commands through Google Home and Alexa, to the implementation of a cryptocurrency payment system. Tasks that would have once seemed monumental have been conquered, and we are all better coders as a result.
What's next for Change4Change
Change4Change has many different venues for improvement that we hope to pursue. First of all, we hope to allow the user to donate to a multitude of charities of their choosing. We also want to build a portal for companies to view the data that was collected off of their surveys. Hopefully, with additions like these, we can attract more companies and businesses to ask surveys on our platform.