Inspiration

Helpify's goal is to assist people to achieve long-term goals with tips and bits of motivation throughout the day. In scenarios with long-term payoffs and short-term temptations, it's difficult to stay on track. Helpify can help! You tell us what challenges you're facing, and we scrape web and send you tips via email and text throughout the day. That way you don't have to constantly look up tips yourself.

How it works

You fill out a really quick form on our website. The form asks for your email address, phone number, and a couple key words on a problem you're facing. Helpify uses those keywords to search using Bing API for relevant articles. Then the articles are summarized, and a couple sentences are sent via email and text to the user.

Challenges we ran into

Sending emails on a timer proved difficult using the command line. What may help to ameliorate this problem is to 1) create a queue of quotes to send out to specific people at specific times and then 2) launch a separate thread which polls the time and pops jobs off the queue at the appropriate times.

Accomplishments that were proud of

We planned our project really well. We identified a need that many of us had, outlined an achievable set of features to code, and then apportioned tasks well. Everything came together really smoothly because of good communication and sharing areas of expertise. Most importantly, we had a great time and learned a lot of new things.

What we learned

We learned how to use many new APIs, such as the Bing API and text summarization API. We also learned how to use php and launch command line processes from within a Python script to send email and texts. In addition, by searching for tools that we could leverage, we learned a lot about the space of text summarization.

What's next for Helpify

We'd like to add a feature that allows users to identify times of the day or locations where temptation strikes. For example, if somebody is looking for weight loss help, and usually snacks when coming home after a long day of work, we can send a reminder to reach for fruits and veggies instead of junk food. That would involve using location services as a first step. For finer-tuned assistance, we could use items such as wearables and sensors that identify when texts should be sent to encourage users to stay on track.

We also want to start creating an online community for people using our site. We already publish popular tips online. By using upvote/downvote features, we can apply machine learning to the task of providing people with better tips. We can also use bag of words and simple machine learning models to identify sections within self-help articles that hold tips to better the quality of the messages we send out. Finally, while this website mobile compatible, it would be more convenient to make it a native phone app.

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