Findr was inspired by every student’s struggle to find a comfortable reading area. The app enhances the user’s reading experience by eradicating the tedious hunt for a perfect study spot. By employing crowd control technology, the app allows users to check all registered area’s current occupancy and capacity. With this information, the users are then able to make decisions based on their own preferences, thus satisfying their individual needs for a great reading experience.
When we consider the entire scope of the reading experience, we realize that it extends beyond simply reading the book; finding a comfortable environment, and reflecting on the book afterwards are crucial aspects of the process. People want an uninterrupted, relaxing, and tranquil environment to mentally involve themselves while reading their book. Thus, any app or enhancement or tool that intervenes in the user's reading process is detrimental to the experience no matter the utility of the device. Therefore, our system aims to improve the user experience before they begin their ideally uninterrupted reading by crowdsourcing quiet locations for the user.
What it does
Findr is a smartphone application that allows users to check how populated particular buildings/rooms are. This device is able to explicitly resolve issues regarding determining where to study or read. The application allows you to connect to an existing hub implemented near the entrance of all registered rooms. The user’s data would then be sent to Google Firebase and synced across all devices. From here, the record is kept of how many users are in a particular space, until disconnected by bluetooth due to existing outside of a nine meters range.
How we built it
Using the Arduino Uno as a hub that would be permanently embedded into doors, we were able to simulate what an NFC would achieve. The ideal situation is to have a user check in through their app with NFC on the phone application. The user would have an existing portfolio including information such as first and last name, id, and whether or not the user is currently checked into a registered study spot. This user information is sent from the phone application, where there are open text fields for the user to commit to, and then sent via bluetooth to the arduino. The arduino hub controls the locking mechanism of a door. The lock is opened by a servo motor, and extra alerts are provided through a liquid crystal display. The user is then prompted as successful, and has 6 seconds to enter the desired room to be in. From here, the app has also sent similar information about the user to a server via SMS to another smartphone, which is currently acting as a demo for a server. Storing this information in firebase, we are able to communicate from the server back to the phone app and globally display which users are in a specified room and mark the occupancy of each room by “QUIET”, “BUSY”, or “FULL”.
Challenges we ran into
No NFC sensor/ chip reader Solution: Use bluetooth ---> new problem ---> Bluetooth connection was challenging to pair with smartphone due to UUID service and characteristics for personalized low energy bluetooth (4.0) - To solve this, we used a 2.0 bluetooth module instead - Lots of debugging
Accomplishments that we're proud of
Despite the challenges, our team has accomplished an incredible amount given the time restrictions. We created an engaging and simplistic user interface by creating an Illustrator mock-up of our application with careful consideration regarding UI/UX. This helped us have a clean layout and reduced steps in creating Findr. In addition, the ability to communicate a set of data about a person through SMS to another smartphone acting as a server is another feat we are proud to have accomplished. We faced numerous limitations with the hardware provided and the unreliable bluetooth connection of our devices but eventually found a way to reliably send information.
What we learned
Through this hackathon, our team learned a variety of problem solving skills. We exercised logical thinking in the prototyping stages of our design. Whether it was producing quality content under time pressure or collaborating our ideas to manifest a viable application for our desires, each member has grown significantly.
What's next for Findr
Our aim for the future is to have the ability to gather data of each user and provide a personalized profile for each user as well as provide additional information in our registered study spots. Big data regarding the educational program, age and interest of each user could be collected and associated with registered rooms. This way, we can provide users with which people are most frequently using those rooms and usually at what hours of the day. In addition, we plan to implement a platform for implicit communication. Users will have the ability to sync their contacts and choose to display their locations to see where their friends are studying.