This iOS app enables a user to take a text-based picture that contains information about a particular event. They can then have that information automatically stored to their Outlook, iCalendar, Google Calendar, Yahoo! Calendar, and even AOL as an event. This app implements the Microsoft Cognitive Services Optical Character Recognition API.

To Use:

  1. Take a picture
  2. Confirm the information
  3. Send to mobile Calendar

How we built it

We developed this app in Xcode using swift. To capture the content of an image taken, we implemented the Microsoft Cognitive Services Optical Character Recognition API. The resulting JSON file was then analyzed to find key terms such as dates and timings. Finally, we exported the necessary information to the necessary calendar.


As busy students who rely heavily on online calendars, we’re often frustrated by how easy it is to miss the amazing events held at Harvard. We all had run into the problem where we’d take a picture for a flyer of a cannot-miss event to remember to go, and then would never go to the event because it wasn’t in our calendar. That’s why we created InstaCal, a solution to our college needs, so that all the events we want to go to are automatically added to our calendars!

Accomplishments we are proud of

We were excited to implement Microsoft’s cognitive services API for text-recognition to efficiently export calendar events to our to help solve a problem we faced in our everyday lives. We also loved making our app name and minimalistic interface, and bonding with our teammates.

What we learned

None of us had previous Swift experience, and we all got hooked on app development. We also learned how to use Microsoft APIs, which are incredibly powerful and we’re so excited to use.

Challenges we ran into

One initial challenge was trying to create a platform independent web-based app. However, after realizing that this was not necessarily feasible within the given time, we had to settle for an iOS app that could only be used on an apple device.

What's next for InstaCal

The next step for InstaCal is the implementation of an Android complement to our app. We also would love to enhance our app with additional features, incorporating the future of OCR, like converting handwriting to vectorized text!

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