Parking is an issue that plagues every college campus. University students and staff need an easy way to find available parking on campus so they can get to class on time.
What it does
PopCorn is an app that monitors the availability of parking spots in different lots on campus. Using sensors in each individual spot, PopCorn can tell when a spot is occupied by a vehicle and updates the availability on the website so it is easy to know when a parking lot has open spots or is full. When the user parks in a particular spot or leaves it, the sensor will make UT Tyler- themed sound effects. PopCorn also makes it easy to find the closest available parking to your destination by displaying unfilled lots close to your destination's address.
How we built it
We used Python code on Raspberry Pi with an attached input circuit. Whenever the sensor (a button for now) is triggered, the Raspberry Pi sends a put request to our website, and the specified spot is marked as unavailable. When the sensor is no longer triggered, the Raspberry Pi sends another put request to the API and the spot is registered as available again. The website is updated to reflect these status changes in real time. The API for the website uses MongoDB to store the parking availability data and React to display the User Interface. To enable locating services, we used Google Map's publicly available API.
Challenges we ran into
It was difficult to get the sensor circuit set up correctly and it took a few hours of trial and error to get it working. Since we were using python packages and equipment unfamiliar to us, it took a while to get the sound files to play on the raspberry pi. We did not have a motion sensor available, so we used a button as our sensor. This can be replaced later if this program is implemented.
Accomplishments that we're proud of
We went from not knowing how to use a Raspberry Pi to creating a working prototype sensor input system that updates a website in real time! We all came to Tech For Tyler by ourselves and only met each other when we formed a team after the opening ceremony. Despite this, we communicated well and used our diverse backgrounds to build a functioning prototype together. We made new friends and learned new skills from each other, which is exactly what we came here to do. Whether we win or not, we all gained something by coming here.
What we learned
We learned how to use a Raspberry Pi! API's are no longer scary unknown coding beasts. We learned about circuits! We learned how to communicate with an API. We learned how a hackathon works and gained some strategies for maximizing our output.
What's next for PopCorn
Some improvements can be made to the hardware, including replacing the button with a real motion sensor and replacing the headphones with a speaker output. More functionality can always be added to the website.