The Story

The fact that over 1 billion dollars in gift cards go unused every year is incredible. They pile up in everyone’s kitchen cabinet and bedroom dresser and are never used. After 5 years, they expire, and the seller sits back and laughs. Now, there are a plethora of services out there that attempt to remedy this problem. Raise and Cardpool each attempt to solve the unused gift card problem by allowing people to sell their gift cards online, while taking a small commission. The gap is that most people want to spend the cards that they get(rather than sell them), they just forget about them. I believe that a simple reminder would go a long way towards enhancing gift card utilization.

The solution is a smart phone application that will allow the user to do a few simple things with their gift cards. First, users can enter new gift cards that they get into the application. Users will be able to enter the name of the company and the balance on the card. Then, when the user clicks save, the users location, will be accessed via the location services on the users phone. It will use a custom geo-fencing algorithm to find the closest 20 stores (within a 30 mile radius) and the user will receive an alert from the app that reminds them that they have a gift card to one of these stores if they walk close enough to it.

How to use

  1. Download the APK to your device and run it to install the app
  2. Open the app
  3. Click the (+) icon in the top right to add a new card
  4. Enter the name of a company for which you have a gift card (example: "target", "starbucks", "walmart")
  5. Enter the balance remaining on your card
  6. Click "Add" In the background, the app queries the Google Places API to find the 20 nearest locations matching the company you entered (within a 30 mile radius). The coordinates of these locations are saved locally in a SQLite database
  7. Download a GPS spoofing application (in lieu of actutally walking into a store) and change your location to be within 200 meters of a store for which you have a gift card In the background, the app will periodically check your current coordinates, but this information will not leave the device! It checks whether your current location is within 200 meters of any of the 20 locations added in step 6 (using a custom geofencing algorithm since Android is limited to 100 geofences across all apps; too few for our use-case.
  8. You should receive a notification reminding you to use your gift card!
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Updates

Mac Chaffee posted an update

This project won 3rd place overall!

Here is the APK we used during the demos if you'd like to try it out.

We're limited to 600 requests to the Places API per month, so if you experience crashes when adding a new gift card, that means we've hit that limit. Existing cards will still continue to generate notifications, however.

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