MetropoliPin is an app for travelers and explorers who want to share their knowledge and leverage their social networks to find travel advice, but don't want the distraction of having to pull out a mobile device to mark where they've been. The ease of contributing to MetropoliPin's crowdsourced data means that it will be easier than ever before to plan a day out in town or a vacation in a foreign city based on the advice of people you know and trust.
The Headset & Dropping Pins
MetripoliPin is integrated with the NeuroSky MindWave Mobile EEG reader headset, which uses dry, non-intrusive connection points to read your brain wave data and transmit it to our back-end system. Thus instead of needing to pull out a phone to mark interesting places you encounter throughout the day, you simply need to blink deliberately and MetropoliPin will drop a pin at your current location. Then later you can go back through the pins you have dropped and leave a brief rating so you can remember how positive or negative the experience was and share this information with friends.
When you want to go on vacation or just explore your own backyard, you can use your friends' pins to guide your way. Search for a city, then a listing of where your friends have been will appear, along with their ratings. You can select a number of these pins for your trips, supplemented by suggestions from Yelp. If you set up a schedule of when you want to visit each pin, Twilio will send a reminder text every time that you need to move on to the next pin.
Our system has two applications, a Ruby on Rails mobile web app hosted on Heroku and a native Android app. The core of the user interface is located in the Ruby on Rails app, along with all of our data modeling, while the Android app is used for connecting the NeuroSky headset to the internet. We use the Google maps API for graphically representing the pins, the Yelp API for finding local places, and the Twilio API for sending reminder texts.
We were supposed to be on the Hackathon TV program at HackDFW, but the 1 inch of snow in Dallas was too much for our airline, and after delaying us for over 5 hours in the airport, they canceled our flight. So, we drove to HackIllinois from the Detroit airport (DTW) early Saturday morning, arriving to the event 12 hours late. Because we had 24 hours instead of 36, we ended up with a lot of ideas for future improvements that we simply did not have time to complete this time around. These include:
- Integration with Pebble so the user can confirm that they intended to drop a pin and can immediately rate the place instead of waiting until they get back on the mobile web app
- Recording more elaborate information about your friends' experiences at these locations, including a short audio clip where they describe the place or a graphical representation of the brain waves your friends experienced at the place
- Adding a "sub pin" and "super pin" concept. Sub pins could be as fine grained as the location of a specific statue within a park, while super pins would be locations like entire parks. Super pins would correspond to the businesses indexed on Yelp.