While browsing the internet, I happen to stumble upon an article about how people in the United States overspend on their vehicles. Apparently many even borrow more on their cars than their college tuition. Knowing how much of a financial burden a vehicle may be, we were influenced to make an app that has the ability to manage this.
What Ecarnomy does:
Ecarnomy projects data regarding monthly operating costs of a vehicle. This helps users be aware of potential financial difficulties throughout their vehicle ownership. The app projects future maintenance, repair, fuel, and insurance costs. For auto investors/vehicle wholesalers, the depreciation rate is factored in to know if the car is economically viable enough to be stored/used.
How we built it:
We used governmental APIs to retrieve data about car expenses and utilized Firebase to manage user information. Moreover, we used TextFields to input several types of user data such as the vehicle identification numbers and the number of miles driven.
Challenges we ran into:
One of the main problems we ran into is extracting data from different APIs. The data had different formats, names, and capitalizations, so we devoted a considerable amount of time to revise the code. For example, take how the vehicle identification number (VIN) was decoded by the API. If we tried to decode the VIN for a Mercedes-Benz S560, the decoder would output Mercedes-Benz S-Class instead of the specific model, which is incompatible with the other API that we were using. Another challenge we ran into is that we got tired and started to misspell words when we are naming variables in the codebase.
Accomplishments that we're proud of:
One accomplishment that we are very proud of is that we not only managed to access governmental APIs that analyze vehicle costs from multiple aspects but also successfully manipulated data from the database to calculate the monthly total costs of different kinds of vehicles. Not only that, we were able to add depreciation costs to the equation for auto retailers.
What we learned:
One of the important lessons that we learned during the competition is that a good API design is essential to ensuring high usability. While we were doing our research, we came across several “unusable” APIs that store data in unnecessarily complex ways. This greatly hindered our progress because we spent too much time on mangling the data. As a result, we realized that it is crucial for developers to design APIs that allow users to access information easily and quickly.
What's next for Ecarnomy:
We would definitely expand to get more information on more cars, prioritize the user experience, and integrate our app with more tools to better serve drivers.
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