Social media feels empty and superficial.
It feigns connection and causes feelings of anxiety, depression, isolation, and more. The Covid-19 Pandemic has only exacerbated this problem, causing us to feel more alone than ever. Thus we find it necessary to leverage modern tools to remedy this general sentiment.
Reach is an intimate community where users feel truly connected, heard, and reached.
Key Ideas The platform is invite-only for maintaining close, intentional friendships. It should provide meaningful and intimate means of communication - no meaningless posts or endless recommendation feeds. The app should keep tabs on key wellness metrics to forecast wellbeing and take action before negative feelings spiral out of control The app reduces friction to reach out to friends. It further shifts the burden off of the individual and places it on the community to reach out, allowing a user to feel truly supported by their intimate group of friends. How we built it For tech, we utilized three main components.
Reactjs frontend, Flask backend running MongoDb, we also utilized a third expressjs server to handle traffic between clients looking to use the video calling feature.
The most interesting technical challenges lay in this expressjs server, as we had to learn and bootstrap webrtc to communicate and instantiate video objects between each of our clients. In order to do this we decided to use a websocket, such that constant connection would be maintained in real time. We then relayed a VideoContainer component that housed this websocket logic back to our Reactjs frontend in order to serve the video.
On the frontend side, we took care to design in a mobile friendly and responsive fashion, given that the original idea for this was a mobile application, since users will most likely feel more comfortable through that medium.
Challenges we ran into It took us a really long time to figure out how to get past a CORS error with our backend requests. Additionally, the video calling feature was a pain to implement Accomplishments that we're proud of We are especially proud of the time we spent on this idea. We really tried to flush out the problems we saw in the community and tackle them with a well intentioned solution. Additionally, we are proud of the level of functionality we attained in such a short amount of time.
What we learned We learned web sockets, Web RTC, responsive web development, database creation, and web APIs
What's next for Reach.io Sending a song is an intimate feature we thought of that we didn't have time to implement Although right now the platform is a mobile responsive web app, the ideal situation would be to create a mobile app. That way we can track data such as the user's steps, screentime, and location changes to help us forecast early signs of isolation and combat it