Inspiration

There are so many exciting opportunities at universities and colleges, ranging from music nights to volunteering events, to research showcases. These events are often advertised with flyers posted around college campuses, but they quickly pile up as seen here. With so many opportunities, it's difficult for students to keep track of everything. Many students attempt to keep track of these events by taking photos of the flyers. Even so, students often have thousands of photos to scroll past, making this task very difficult. As students of large campuses ourselves, we feel the need to aid this problem. We give students a solution with our app, Sched-U.

What it does

Sched-U provides students with a convenient and efficient way to remember events. The process starts when a student takes a photo of an event poster he or she may be interested in. Sched-U then scans the photo for important information, such as date, time, and location. Subsequently, it sends the data to the student's Google Calendar, where an event is created using all the received information. The student can then be assured that he or she will not forget any potentially interesting opportunities.

How we built it

Sched-U is written in react-native. It utilizes a number of node.js components and modules (see our github repo for a complete list!), and the Google Cloud Vision API for performing optical character recognition and extracting the relevant text from the image.

Challenges we ran into

We did not have the software we needed for the project installed, and everything took a very long time to both download and install. This was challenging not only because we were inexperienced in the programs that we used, but also because we had to wait for the necessary software to download and install. Another challenge is that flyers are a very diverse medium, unlike the more standard business card. This made searching for relevant information more difficult as it could be written in many different formats. For example, the same date can be written as January 21st, 2018 or 21/1/18. Also location and title are hard to find since there is no standard for writing them.

Accomplishments that we're proud of

We're pretty happy that despite our challenges, Sched-U was able to scan or upload a photo (depending on the user's preferences), identify the important text, and use the received information to create an event in Google Calendar.

What we learned

At the end of the first day, we had two pages of ideas but not a single line of code written down. Realizing at 11:50 pm on Friday night that we still didn't have a single project idea helped us quickly learn how to narrow down from 40+ ideas to one idea to focus on. This in turn taught us time management and decision-making skills.

In terms of technical skills, we learned how to use programs that were new to us, such as react-native.

What's next for Sched-U

In the future, we hope to make Sched-U more accurate by enabling stylized fonts and different flyer formats to be analyzed. Another idea we can investigate is integrating social media by scanning posts for events that can be added to the calendar.

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