When we first arrived at Queen's University for QHacks, we had no idea which building was which, or where the place we were supposed to be was located. Once we finally made it into the venue, we decided to create an app that could help people like us, who have never been to a certain place before to find out what's around them.
What it does
This app uses a mobile phone's GPS, compass heading, and the Google Maps API to determine which point of interest you are most likely facing and shows that place's details on an information window. Simply point your device's camera at a point of interest to learn more about it!
How we built it
We used Node.js to build the website and services that interact with the outside APIs. We also used StdLib to help us interact with the Google Maps API, which parses the GPS information we give it, and gives us the appropriate point of interest's details. This app is hosted on Microsoft's Azure Web App service.
Challenges we ran into
The most challenging thing we ran into was determining the compass' direction, since web development tools only seem to have standards for reading the gyroscope instead, so translating the gyroscope information into a single compass heading ended up being a lot of trial and error until it worked.
We also had trouble getting device services like location and camera to work properly, as these are new standards that require the use of SSL encryption while in use. After a while of not knowing what to do, we discovered that Azure's Web App hosting service provided SSL encryption for their hosted apps, which was surprisingly easy to put up and host on their service.
Accomplishments that we're proud of
We're most proud of the fact that now whenever we, or anyone else, run into the same problems that we had while travelling, our app can help them find out what's going on around them.
What we learned
Throughout this project, we've learned there are many web services that are more than willing to help out in making developers' apps become reality. For example, StdLib helped us with all of our heavy processing functions, and Azure helped us with our web hosting services.
What's next for GeoTourist
As this is a prototype, there are still some precision issues, especially with determining the compass heading. We would like to fix those issues for the future. In terms of future features, we were considering using AR and image recognition to display point of interest information above the building being pointed at, so that we may be able to display more than one building's information at once, if there are several next to each other.