A new way to help the differently abled.

Created by: Chase Cummings and Evan Frawley

Hack UCSC 16

What is MapPal? What was the inspiration?

MapPal is an online resource that is intended to be used by individuals with movement disabilities based off of information crowd sourced by good Samaritans. Initially, I (Evan) came up with the inspiration for the service. Travelling to this hackathon from Washington, I didn't know my way around campus. Upon google-mapsing the campus, I saw how hilly it was, which made me think that people in wheelchair must have a hard time going from class to class. It then dawned on me that when a wheelchair bound person goes to a new place, they have no idea what the optimal maneuverable route is, and that this may pose serious difficulties that many of us take for granted. ** I wanted to build something that could aid these people. ** While looking at the sponsors, I thought a great idea would be to couple this social problem with Inboard Technologies, accessing the accelerometer and other data gathering tools to map paths. Ultimately, these mapped points and paths would become optimized to help those with disabilities travel with ease.

What technologies did we use?

  • HTML / CSS
  • JavaScript
  • Meteor.js
  • Cordova
  • MongoDB
  • MapBox
  • Leaflet
  • HighCharts
  • Accelerometer
  • Geolocation
  • Android smartphone
  • Dijkstra's Algorithm

(unfortunately, Inbaord didn't have another board for us to utilize)

What are we proud of?

We are proud that we created something that is rather quite powerful in the the span of these 40 hours.

Chase: Just getting the whole thing working. Implementing Dijkstra's algorithm at 4 in the morning. Downing 8 cans of RedBull. Also figuring out how to put a number of complex tool together.

Evan: I am proud that I decided to channel my inner Shia LaBeouf and "Just do it" because it resulted in me utilizing so many cool tools and technologies. I am also proud that with a low level of design experience, I was able to whip up what (in my opinion) is an awesome looking UI and design feel.

What were some challenges? (and how were they overcame?)

Getting the whole thing to work! We used a bunch of different moving pieces together, like using Meteor, which to us was a completely new web framework, hooking that up with JS and its internal MongoDB while utilized geolocation points and two different map API's to plot the points and paths that we went out and tracked. We had to come up with hacky ways to make each piece work with the next and fix bugs as they popped up. On top of that, staying up the last night to make sure an awesome product was completed was difficult for us both. However, each of these obstacles was great to overcome one at a time and helped the time fly by. Learning an entire new web framework, Meteor, was a complete beast in and of itself. Neither Chase or I knew how to work with Meteor, so a good deal of time was spent learning how to use the tool, and how we had to change our HTML / CSS / JS files so that it would function properly. However, once we got it down, we were able to capitalize on its extremely powerful capabilities and have a functional and aesthetically pleasing app!

What we learned

Just like at many other hackathons, we learned a bunch of new tools that we can use as developers in the future. We learned how to hack stuff together, and how to think critically when connecting different technologies. But, I'd argue that most importantly, we learned that we can make an impact by channeling our passions to improve the lives of others.

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