Do You Want To Hug Me?
Do You Want To Hug Me (or DYWTHM, an acronym that rolls straight off the tongue) is a combination of a stress ball, desktop pal, and mental health counter. Simply "hug" our Android friend, and he'll record your squeeze and put it into our database. From our mobile/desktop apps, you'll be able to look at your hug trends as well as other hug data. While it's innately simple, Do You Want To Hug Me is extremely flexible. Individuals can choose what hugging the plush means (e.g. hug each time I'm stressed, hug each time I'm very happy), and then look at a visual representation of their day in forms of hugs. Users can then figure out, for example, what times they're the most stressed, or when they're the most happy, or every time they see a Donald Trump post on Facebook. The world is their oyster!
Well, that Android plush from Google was pretty cute looking, so much in fact that we decided to hug it repeatedly (it's very, very soft). Hugging makes you feel naturally better, but we started wondering what we could do with our hugs. A simple action like squeezing a toy can give a lot of information about a person: how hard they squeeze, how long they squeeze, and how frequently they squeeze. Unfortunately, due to time and resource constraints, we focused on only one: hug frequency. While the hug can mean something different for each person, it's still a pretty cool insight into your life. You can see when you're hugging more, and also have a lot of fun squeezing a little plush. It's a win win!
We failed a lot, but during that process we learned even more, so it was generally alright! Originally, we planned to measure pressure, frequency, and time, but we quickly realized that we had to focus our resources on a more narrow goal. Throughout our development cycle, we encountered numerous problems: whether it was with Bluetooth interfacing between the Arduino 101 and our Computers/Phones, to huge backend server mishaps, and a complete shift from a mobile-oriented product to a desktop-focused product (after a colossal mobile failure), it was a very rocky road. Ultimately, our final product wasn't close to what we imagined at the start, but that was fine! We're still super happy that we were able to make something so cool, and plus we know what kinds of mistakes that we probably shouldn't make again in the future. Probably.
One of Hack Western's themes this year was learning, and we tried our best to use this hackathon as an opportunity to do just that. Each of our team members took to learning a new topic area that they hadn't practiced before. Here are a few quotes from our team members:
"I worked mostly on the backend. I've used node before, but this was my first time actually peaking into the HTTP(S) protocol, which was awesome. It was also my first time taking security seriously, so I also learned a ton about encryption techniques. Next time I'm at a hackathon, I think I'd like to write my own SSL client to take a deeper poke at the world of web security" - Jack Sarick
"I worked mostly on the front-end of DYWTHM, but also did a few backend tasks when I could. While I'm not a complete stranger to front-end frameworks, this was my first time dealing with asynchronous development: our mobile (and desktop) applications needed to sync their data with our webserver, updating each other every time new data was made. I learned a lot about the do's (and many, many dont's) of async development, and I'm super excited to take this new knowledge into the future! I promise to try more back-end things at my next hackathon: full-stack development looks super cool, and I'm hungry for more!" - Matthew Wang
"I worked mostly on the hardware testing, connection and bluetooth communications. I test individual sensors and algorithms on bluetooth communications with smartphones. Finally, I make sure all components are working together." - Simon Guo
All of us learned a lot at Hack Western, especially from our fellow hackers and mentors.
Our team absolutely loved Hack Western: we got to meet tons of new, super smart and cool people; we got to demo awesome new tech; and we got to learn from industry pros. We're also super proud that we were able to complete Do You Want To Hug Me: it's a project that we put a lot of time, effort, and love into, and we're excited to see what'll come next. And, we got to hug a lot of people. That's always nice.