The three R's have been drilled into our head since birth. Reduce. Reuse. Recycle. Yet the former two are often forgotten by the general population. By 2040, it's predicted that the world will see increased food shortages, more ferocious wildfires, and the potential extinction of coral reefs. (source: The New York Times). With our app, we aim to increase reusability among common, household items. Not everything can be recycled. But everything can be reused.
What it does
The work flow is simple. Upon opening the mobile application, you will be greeted by your phone's camera. Smile! :) Take a picture of any object, and we'll use computer vision for object detection. Once we can identify the picture, we'll be able to provide unique, innovative ways to reuse the product though sources such as Youtube and Pinterest. DIY projects have never been so readily accessible! You can even find the closest recycling center to you, and as an added bonus, we have a list of really amazing recycling programs that top companies run. Do your part to help save the Earth and go Eco-Mode today!
How we built it
We built the frontend using React Native for an Android and iOS application. We chose React Native because we wanted our product to be accessible to anyone, regardless of their type of phone. This helps promote our mission that anyone can reuse!
The backend was built using Flask and Python, and was hosted on Google Cloud Platform at https://eco-mode.appspot.com/. Dear hackers, please no hacking our backend! T's And G's.
The backend handled all of the web-scraping using Beautiful Soup, and handled computer vision with API calls to Microsoft's Cognitive Services.
Challenges we ran into
HOW. DO. YOU. ENCODE. PICTURES. IN. BASE. 64. AND. THEN. POST. REQUEST. IT. Let's just say, taking live photos and sending it online, should be easy, but as every CS major knows, it's always the dumb, small bugs that get us...
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Basically, we were struggling to encode the photos into base 64, and then send it to our backend, and then decode it, and then send it to Microsoft Azure. But hey, we did it eventually!
We also struggled with hosting our Python app to GCP. This was mostly due to requirements on the systems being all out of wack. Dependencies. Suck.
Accomplishments that we're proud of
For one of our members, this was his first hackathon! Also, none of us had ever used web-scrapers before and that was a lot of fun to learn. Thank you TAMUhack!!! We also got the chance to learn about images, unicode, UTF8 encoding, base 64, and more low-ish level things we had never worked with before.
What we learned
We learned how to successfully launch a React Native application across multiple platforms. Most us have never implemented any APIs before and we were able to implement APIs from both Google and Microsoft Azure. We also learned how to scrape websites like Youtube and Pinterest to pull valuable information on reusability.
What's next for Eco-Mode
In the future, we would love to add a feature that allows users to upload images of the DIY projects that they have completed with the help of Eco-Mode. These pictures can be featured on a forum, and other users would be able to like and up-vote the ones they enjoy the most! Thus, we could create a sort of competitive nature all in the spirit of reusability, and people could become the coolest reusers in town. B)