According to a study conducted by Experian, the average American carries four cards in his/her wallet. And this tally is not including the various forms of identification nor the plethora of gift cards that inevitably make their way into the mess. The truth is, cards have become a staple of our everyday lives. We use them to send gifts, make online purchases, buy food, exchange information, among many other uses. But the physical cards themselves are rather limited. We carry them around everywhere just as we do our phones, but at least our phones have apps that serve various functionalities. The physical cards on the other hand are limited in that they display only the card number, expiration date, and CVV. Such a ubiquitous item should be able to do more. It should be smarter. Enter SmartCard.

What it does

SmartCard is a tool that aims to redefine what a card can do. Using the quickly growing power of augmented reality, our application is able to put custom, informative overlays on some of the most frequently used cards in circulation. Whether it be a gift card, your Comet Card, or even your credit/debit cards, SmartCard can enhance the information gleaned with a quick and seamless scan from your phone. When shown a card in the camera view, SmartCard displays several useful pieces of information as well as further hyperlinks (as demonstrated in the demo). It gives valuable insight into the usage of your cards so as to enable better decisions in the future.

How we built it

This app was developed using a variety of tools. The backend and the frontend was done on Swift, with the models being configured on Apple's RealityComposer application. The application currently runs on iOS, so we had to rigorously test it using our friend's phones.

Challenges we ran into

At the beginning, we began development on Unity. However, not only did it take an extremely long time to load the installer, but there were so many moving parts to the rather heavy Unity application that we figured it would be far too easy for something to go wrong. Thus, after spending considerable time working on Unity, we decided to switch to Swift and develop it ourselves.

Accomplishments that we're proud of

I'm proud of the fact that we were able to make a change so late but still produce a functional, solid product. In the beginning, I kept feeling the pressure of the clock ticking down. Just as things to seem about as slow as they could get, it was not going great. However, after making the tough decision to pivot so late into the hackathon, things picked up.

What we learned

We learned that sometimes, an idea that needs to be scrapped is not worth investing time into. Despite how long you've spent on an assignment, it may sometimes be okay to start from scratch, just to get a new perspective. Although not every time, sometimes things can go significantly better the second time around.

What's next for SmartCard

As SmartCard continues to develop, we will continue to add support to a variety of different commonly used cards. In addition, we will improve the image recognition algorithm to work in low light conditions. The goal is for this app to be integrated into the daily lives of people like the flashlight app, for example. Easy, simple, fast.

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