Both of us have had experiences when traveling internationally that included not being able to figure out where we were or how to get where we wanted to be. Unfortunately at the time, speaking English to others was the only option and it didn't help our situations much because no one else could communicate this way. Thus came the idea of something to mitigate language barriers when traveling, a mobile app that could connect you with someone you to easily communicate with.

What it does

Silk Tours is a platform where users can view each other in two ways, as a tourist and a local tour guide. Whichever the user decides to act as, they can see who in their area speaks a specific language and is available to meet at any point in time.

How we built it

The product is entirely software, built from Xcode using Swift with AWS services (Cognito) as our backend support.

Challenges we ran into

  • Our original codebase ended up not working to the abilities we thought it could, so we ended up starting over and created a brand new GUI.

  • Only having one developer for this project is also a challenge especially when issues like this occur.

  • We experienced a few bugs when using Xcode/Swift. The project configuration file has a key that defines the location of the code in the libraries we're using. Every time we updated our pod file, the framework search path re-parsed and separated by spaces causing linkage errors when building out the code. The fix is updating our search path key each time we update our pods.

Accomplishments that we're proud of

Once our basic framework was developed we began to connect our AWS backend services to the GUI using their Cognito service. We were able to incorporate Digits, Twiitter, Facebook, Google+, and Amazon to our profile login so users can take any accounts they have with said services to create an account on our app. We also created the capability to have developer authenticated identification so that if a user did not want to connect a third-party service with their account, they could create one themselves and we could store it for future use.

What we learned

We learned a lot about how to incorporate AWS Cognito with our software and how it works with Swift. We also learned how to develop our business case based on our current idea and business plan/go-to-market plan.

What's next for Silk Tours

After completing our app we plan to release a beta version of our service in Philadelphia and market towards travelers who need to speak their own language while visiting the city.

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