In an ever-accelerating lifestyle, seldom do we have the luxury of appreciating the simple pleasures in life. Our tech-oriented society is often criticized for its inability to look away from a screen of any sort for more than a few minutes. We hope that sherpa can pivot the use of technology away from a substitution of the physical world but rather as an enhancement. Especially, in a rich space like Lacuna, there are so many things to see and never enough time. Sherpa closes that gap and leads you to discover awesome things you never knew existed.
What it does
Sherpa is a social bridge between Lacuna's physical aspects -- its art, architecture and businesses -- with the virtual world. The app promotes visitors and tenants to interact with Lacuna itself in a contextualized setting. Sherpa displays a feed of nearby art and businesses (e.g. those in immediate proximity with precision down to the hall or wing). Users can then read descriptions of these entities as well as view and post comments and rate them and leave their own personal "mark" on Lacuna. We hope that this encourages the tenants and visitors of Lacuna to take ownership of the space but also to promote commercial transparency in allowing consumers to provide constructive feedback and for business owners to post polls of their own businesses to create a truly community-driven environment.
How I built it
The app was written in Swift using XCode. We used CLLocation to detect the iOS device's location via GPS. We would have liked to use iBeacon, but it would have required a $100 Apple developer account (see below).
Challenges I ran into
The main trouble was that we would have been unable to test our code had we used iBeacon because the Mac iOS simulator does not support BLE integration. We used CLLocation in the iOS SDK to circumvent some hurdles we had with the iBeacon and iBeacon SDK. The proof of concept shows that a substitution for iBeacon would be simple. We mapped geographic regions by longitude and latitude with set radii that essentially emulate an iBeacon.
Accomplishments that I'm proud of
Even after wrestling with some huge technical problems for the first few (or several) hours, we persevered and were able to make up for lost time and build something new and exciting. We are always happy to explore and tinker with new technology, but it's another thing to take that and try to make a positive impact.
What I learned
For one thing, we learned lot of Swift and iOS development (especially logistic issues with testing software on the iOS simulator), but we also learned a ton about Lacuna and had the pleasure of really exploring the art and space.
What's next for sherpa
If a developer license were obtained, iBeacon integration would allow for lower energy consumption for the sherpa and more precise location services. Using the iBeacon we hope to create a navigation system that can allow users to not only discover new locations but also then to navigate to them as well. This feature, of course, could also be used to navigate to places that the user already knew about or needed to visit (such as a pre-planned business visit).