I've been to way too many networking events, both personal and professional, where you only meet a fraction of the attendees and come away with no meaningful connections. Connect can solve this, making everywhere you go a worthwhile networking opportunity.

What it does

Connect generates an iBeacon and listens for others nearby. Set up with your needs and what you offer, it works in the background looking for matches between needs and offers of you and others in the area. Signaling both parties on a match, you can choose to connect. This generates a private chat area between the two people. And you can decide to meet in person. On devices that support it, Connect generates an AR view to direct you to the other person, particularly helpful in a crowded or larger space. Once you meet, tapping phones allows for exchange of info that can be imported into backend services such as billing, CRM, and contacts.

How I built it

I wrote an iOS app in Swift that handles all of the front-end services such as beacon generation and listening, match alerting, chat display and entry, location services, AR view display and other-person indicator, phone proximity detection and data exchange. I used Hyphenate for the chat back-end services to dynamically generate a group for the 2 parties to further communication through the app.

Challenges I ran into

This was a lot of code to write and get working in less than 20 hours. I encountered some oddities with iOS 11 that I worked around. The Hyphenate code took a good part of the night to work through and integrate, with much of the code comments in Chinese, and the example project was very heavyweight. As a solo dev, it was important to not get stuck on smaller issues and find alternatives.

Accomplishments that I'm proud of

I finished the project by 7 AM, working straight through the night, even though I had little sleep the night before due to travel. It demonstrates the key features and potential of the platform.

What I learned

I learned a lot about the Hyphenate service and coding practice by pushing through it overnight with no vendor support. I also learned that, while I believed in the concept, seeing it actually work reinforced its usefulness.

What's next for Connect

After winning Disrupt, I hope to get others excited about the service to flesh out the features, work on the backend, and make something truly useful.

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Imagine all the possible ways to Connect. Maybe you're a collector looking for rare items like depression era glass and someone nearby is as well. That connection would never have been made without Connect. You're at an expo with specific needs, but rather than spending all day talking to dozens of booths, Connect can narrow it down to the few important ones where you can have more meaningful conversations. You're at a hackathon and your team needs an iOS dev. iOS devs can easily find you with Connect. The opportunities go on and on.

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