What it does
Text any message to a number set up with Twilio, and it will respond with instructions for how to use the service. The user is given instructions for entering two locations, and Twilio will respond with step-by-step directions along with an image of a map. The directions only require cell service to work; this service is meant for users who have run out of data, don't have mobile data, or who simply don't want to use their mobile data.
How we built it
We made an account with Twilio and got a random phone number that the user will text to use our service. It was written completely in Python and we used Flask to get the user input from the client side and Ngrok to make requests of the server. To get the directions, we used the Google Maps API and to get the map, we used the Google Static Maps API.
Challenges we ran into
At first, we had a completely different idea. We wanted to make a service that would send downloadable mp4 videos from YouTube in order to save data from actually loading it online. However, we found out that Twilio had to send URLs instead of files. We tried to store the files using Microsoft Azure Blob, but that was really challenging and complicated to understand. In the middle of the night, we switched ideas to create a service that would help people find their way around if they don't have access to data or if they just don't want to use data. This way, we kept one of our same goals of saving mobile data.
Accomplishments that we're proud of
We are proud that we figured out how to use Twilio and the Google Maps APIs which were new technologies to us. We are very proud that this service works reliably and can actually help people. Despite our original goal failing, which was the video sending not working, one of us figured out how to send GIFs instead, which was close.
What we learned
We learned how to work with Twilio and APIs that have html. We learned how to clean dictionaries of the html elements. We also learned how to download mp4s from YouTube. We also learned how to create a Twilio phone number and send and receive messages from your actual number to it.
What's next for Off the Charts Directions
We want to add more functionality. One thing we want to implement is finding nearby locations with Wi-Fi. Another is finding food locations nearby. We also want to send an image with the actual route shown.