All of our three team members are international college students of Washington University in St. Louis. We ourselves have experienced language barriers and culture shock, so we aim to develop an application for those people to fully adapt in St. Louis community. At the same time, we realize that more and more college students are interested in studying a second language or study abroad, thus a need for cultural communication has been vastly increased. However, due to culture or language barrier and the lack of platforms, the high demand was never fully resolved.
Addressing this need, we design an iOS mobile application called “MatchX”. As suggested by its name, “MatchX” helps to match people of different backgrounds and promote their communication. In particular, “MatchX” aims to establish the relationship between immigrants who have language trouble with those American college students who are learning foreign languages and need off-campus volunteer experience.
What it does
By linking the American college students to the new coming immigrants, “MatchX” helps to find translators for those immigrants who are in urgent demand of translation in their daily lives. Not only can “MatchX” help immigrants to solve their daily communication problems, but “MatchX” is also able to provide American university students opportunities to apply their learning outside the classroom. “MatchX” definitely provides numerous benefits to both of the parties.
Our iOS Application MatchX has the following functionalities:
- Sign-in Form, which registered users could log in with their e-mail and password
- Sign-up form, which all users could create an account with their e-mail and password. We will request their name, phone number, e-mail, profile photo and ask if they are student volunteer or immigrants in need and create corresponding account for them in our data-base.
- Recommender System, which immigrants would be able to see the most well-matched student volunteers and reach out to them and students would also be able to see the best-match immigrants. Best-match are calculated based on our model, which currently considers their languages and locations.
- Search Engine, which immigrants/students can search with name, language and places and we will look for the matched students/immigrants in our data-base.
- Request System, which immigrants could set a time and place and request a meeting with volunteers. Volunteers could accept or reject the request and the in-coming meeting time will show in meeting column.
How we built it
We use Swift 4.2 as our development language on X-code 10 platform.
We start by determining our overall structure of the program. We first design our logo and use KeyNote to export the picture. Then we build our basic sign-in and sign-up forms and link them with our main interface, which consists of our recommendation system and search engine. During the process, we refer to some of the apps that we commonly use and design our own user interfaces.
We use Firebase database management system to maintain and extract our user data and we import the corresponding packages into our code.
To determine the location and calculate the distances between users, we implant Google places API.
Challenges we ran into
In our team, we have different background, making it hard to agree on a certain topic. For example, some could do python but could not develop mobile application while some has strong theoretical background. Finally, we decided on that we would develop a mobile application, and we eventually were able to find adequate work for each member.
Accomplishments that we're proud of
We are most proud that we would be able to finish an interactive iOS application in such short 36 hours and it could work to provide new foreign-born people with translation service that they need, thus helping them to be part of our community while at the same time benefiting college students like us as well.
What we learned
Undoubtedly, we learned a lot about coding in Swift and using online documentations and resources to design and develop an application. At the same time, we learned more about immigrant's life from both immigrant's panel and discussion of the problem focuses and are activated to assist them more both in and out of the development of this application.
What's next for MatchX
If provided more time, we will implement the system to secure our user data and be able to recognize potential criminals and make sure that the interactions between immigrants and students are safe. In addition, we can translate the application into different languages, benefiting users with different cultural backgrounds.
- Please open ._MatchX.xcworkspace in repository to run our program.
- Please choose iPhone 7 or 8 or equivalent screen size since due to time restriction, we focus more on functionality than on display optimization.