With the increasing use of digital communication being integrated into our day to day lives, there comes an ergonomic risk from factors such as poor posture, eye strain, and poor physical health.

As our group was bouncing one idea after another off each other in a video call, we realized how much the pandemic has impacted the world on a digital level. In fact, throughout the hackathon, many of us are guilty of taking little to no breaks, grinding out our vision to every detail. Additionally, prolonged exposure to digital devices may lead to burnout in video software applications and has been one of the negative environmental factors many of us had to adapt to in light of COVID-19. Our team set out to come up with an innovative solution that prompts users to take breaks while using video software; solutions that involve more than just willpower. Ultimately, this led to the creation of Flock.

What it does

Flock is a real-world implementation of a video platform inspired by the Pomodoro technique that is used for more effective studying and work habits. We have programmed the web application to accommodate each group’s preference for both the work and break duration. For instance, if you set work to 25 minutes and break to 5 minutes, every 25 minutes of work would be met by a 5-minute break prompted by the video platform to do other activities that could involve meditation, exercise, and fun! By setting a mandatory break in relation to the time you work, you are balancing your psychological and physical wellbeing with online work and studying.

How we built it

Flock was built primarily with React.js as frontend, and Node/ Express as back-end. Video streaming was achieved using Twilio Programmed Video API, with Firebase handling realtime status and emoji updates.

Challenges we ran into

In the beginning, there were a lot of errors with the npm and getting the files to run through the terminal git. It was quite difficult to set up a Chrome extension due to the involvement of multiple languages and having the need to constantly update it manually every time the code is changed. The presence of background and content scripts also adds a layer of complexity as some functions cannot be executed in certain scripts. Overall, it was a fun journey, and we hope to further develop Flock's features following the hackathon.

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