One story that inspired us was from a woman who experienced burglary. She heard loud noises and soon saw a silhouette of an adult man. Frightened by the robber, whom she could not even dare to fight with, and in fear of being discovered, she was unable to call the police.
Also, we felt the need for an anonymous texting option for people who had already experienced sexual assault, because people may feel uncomfortable about revealing their identity or even making a phone call and having to speak about their experiences again. Nevertheless, they would need substantial and psychological support from trained counselors.
What it does
In such threatening situations of ongoing burglary, sexual assault, etc., we thought that people would benefit from an app that calls the police automatically but mutes the phone itself so that no sound comes from the call in any way, including the voice of the police. When the “CALL” button is pressed, the application would use the GPS to get the user’s location and use text-to-speech to convert the address into sound form so that the police would hear it — however, no sound would come out from the phone so that the user can remain undiscovered.
Furthermore, when the “MESSAGE” button is pressed, the application would lead to a screen where the user can choose which counselor she/he wants to receive counseling and support from and start texting anonymously with the counselor. The counselor would not be able to see the phone number or any other personal information of the user, because the user is never required to enter anything.
-We created a clearly-manifested home screen with only two buttons to press as well as a location detection function so that users who need to call the police can do it right away. -The Message function was created on a second screen, where the user can select a counsellor, sending text messages to the selected counselor, receive responses, and the latest messages are displayed. -The Call function would directly call 911 as soon as the user presses the button.
All of our team members were first-time hackers entirely new to the field of application development. Given that it was difficult to pick up Android Studio within one day, we decided to use MIT App Inventor, an easier-to-use and more visualized tool for our project. Developing an application from scratch was still harder than we thought, including figuring out the functions of each built-in block and the logic to process it.
We didn’t figure out how to enable anonymous messaging or how to mute the phone call itself entirely. Also, we didn’t find a way to convert the address into sound and send it to the police automatically.