Flowerescent's mission

Our name says it all: flowers represent growth, and fluorescence is the emission of absorbed light. Our extension aims to help our users grow from their mental health struggles - finding the light in even the darkest of places, and sharing it with others!

Inspiration

Mental health is something that our group felt passionately about and wanted to create a hack that could make a difference. Since we are living in unprecedented times due to an ongoing global pandemic, we felt inspired to develop a technology with the common goal of increasing accessibility to healthcare by providing easy access to mental health resources and telehealth forums. We also wanted to support people struggling and provide them with fun games related to mental health and develop a way for users to anonymously communicate with others who are struggling in hopes of finding strategies that people find useful and tips anyone can benefit from. Additionally, we wanted those who have been helped, to have the opportunity to spread kindness to others. And, taking inspiration from Microsoft's Best Accessibility for All Challenge, we designed our project to be accessible as we possibly can in the limited hacking time.

What it does

Our chrome extension, Flowerescent, helps those struggling with mental health find beneficial resources. We provide information on coping skills, anxiety, depression, and suicide hotlines, help chats, and support groups. Our snake game allows users to distract themselves as well as learn more about their emotions and redirects them to our website providing them with our many resources. Our forum allows users to express their struggles anonymously and receive help from other users and licensed therapists who are monitoring the chat 24/7. This way, our users will never feel alone and will always have resources to help them and games to distract them.

We built this because recently, people have been struggling with mental health issues more often due to the pandemic. 82 million Americans suffer from mental health every year and the technology we developed will provide resources that improve the way we access health care. Our extension connects users to therapists and healthcare with a few clicks of a button and/or keyboard shortcuts.

Accessible to colorblind people (color scheme), people with motor deficiencies (keyboard shortcuts), and people who struggle with reading text (text to voice)

How I built it

The snake game is built with HTML5, CSS3, and vanilla Javascript. It plays like a classic game of Snake; however, when the game is over, the user will be redirected to our website.

The website was built through a Handlebar framework using express. The website had two main components. The first is an interactive forum developed using javascript and a JSON file acting as a database. This allows individuals to communicate with each other and get help from one another. The second part was to make the website accessibility friendly. This included using the Azure Text-to-Speech API to implement this function. The API was used to convert the text on all pages into an audio clip that could be played. Furthermore, each forum message also uses the API when the audio button is clicked. Last but not least, the website was deployed using Azure and VS code.

Challenges I ran into

As a team leaning towards the beginner side, we overall ran into challenges in each step. First, we realized that the forum could not be implemented into a chrome extension, causing us to lose valuable hacking time. In the snake game, we envisioned that we could create a cartoon snake that could eat emotions. This was a challenge because we were unfamiliar with how sprites worked and have minimal graphic design experience. In the end, we made our snake built out of blocks and were able to put emoticons into our snake game.

In addition to problems in our code, we encountered the problem of an unresponsive GitHub repository and the confusion between a static and dynamic website. We had to upload our code into Google Drive mere hours before the deadline. Multiple members were unable to download the Microsoft Visual Studio Code extension, leaving one member to connect all the applications to Azure. Furthermore, integrating the Azure text-to-voice application was also a big challenge, especially for each message.

Accomplishments that I'm proud of

Throughout this project, there were several languages/technologies being used for the first time (Javascript, Azure Cloud Services, and Chrome Extensions). With a mix of experienced and beginner hackathoners from all over the United States, we truly learned from one another. The newer hackathon members learned more about Bash commands, JavaScript, HTML, and CSS. Overall, we built a fully-functional accessible-friendly chrome extension, game, and website.

What I learned

We learned many new technologies as well as soft skills. We learned the importance of communications, and the importance of group meetings. We also learned version control using git and how to collaborate using git. We also learned new technologies, such as using Azure API and deploying a website using Azure as well as Chrome Extensions and templatizing.

What's next for Flowerescent

We hope to take this application to the next level. For the website, rather than typing a text message, we hope to incorporate Azure Speech-to-Text API so it is more accessible to all. Furthermore, we also hope to incorporate Azure’s Sentiment Analysis in order to collect data and see how the forum helps over time. Aside from that we also hope to build a database for an extensive forum so that more and more people can communicate, and all that data will be saved. We also plan to expand our game selection to keep users entertained in the future.

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