Self-motivation is hard. It’s time for a social media platform that is meaningful and brings a sense of achievement instead of frustration.
While various pro-exercise campaigns and apps have tried inspire people, it is difficult to stay motivated with so many other more comfortable distractions around us. Surge is a social media platform that helps solve this problem by empowering people to exercise. Users compete against themselves or new friends to unlock content that is important to them through physical activity.
True friends and formed through adversity, and we believe that users will form more authentic, lasting relationships as they compete side-by-side in fitness challenges tailored to their ability levels.
What it does
When you register for Surge, you take an initial survey about your overall fitness, preferred exercises, and the websites you are most addicted to. This survey will serve as the starting point from which Surge creates your own personalized challenges: Run 1 mile to watch Netflix for example. Surge links to your phone or IOT wrist device (Fitbit, Apple Watch, etc...) and, using its own Chrome browser extension, 'releases' content that is important to the user when they complete the challenges. The platform is a 'mixed bag'. Sometimes users will unlock rewards such as vouchers or coupons, and sometimes they will need to complete the challenge to unlock their favorite streaming or gaming platforms.
How we built it
Back-end: We used Python Flask to run our webserver locally as we were familiar with it and it was easy to use it to communicate with our Chrome extension's Ajax. Our Chrome extension will check the URL of whatever webpage you are on against the URLs of sites for a given user. If the user has a URL locked, the Chrome extension will display their challenge instead of the original site at that URL. We used an ESP8266 (onboard Arduino) with an accelerometer in lieu of an IOT wrist device, as none of our team members own those devices. We don’t want an expensive wearable to be a barrier to our platform, so we might explore providing a low cost fitness tracker to our users as well.
We chose to use Google's Firebase as our database for this project as it supports calls from many different endpoints. We integrated it with our Python and Arduino code and intended to integrate it with our Chrome extension, however we ran into trouble doing that, so we used AJAX to send a request to our Flask server which then acts as a middleman between the Firebase database and our Chrome extension.
Front-end: We used Figma to prototype our layout, and then converted to a mix of HTML/CSS and React.js.
Challenges we ran into
Connecting all the moving parts: the IOT device to the database to the flask server to both the chrome extension and the app front end.
Accomplishments that we're proud of
Please see above :)
What we learned
Working with firebase and chrome extensions.
What's next for SURGE
Continue to improve our front end. Incorporate analytics to accurately identify the type of physical activity the user is doing. We would also eventually like to include analytics that gauge how easily a person is completing a task, to ensure the fitness level that they have been assigned is accurate.
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