Inspiration

Let's face it. The world gets lazier and lazier by the day. From another perspective, students and employees get busier and busier. When vigorously working on something, we wanted a quick and easy way to allow people to hear their notifications or even the time by simply tapping their work desk.

What it does

A user can choose whether they would like time notifications or app notifications in the app. Then, using background running services, simply hitting the surface the phone is resting on with your hand, it will dictate the notification.

How we built it

We used Android Studio to create the entire Android app, written in Java. In order to detect whether the desk surface was tapped/bumped by the user, we decided to track the phone's accelerometer sensor values in the x, y, and z directions. Quick, sudden spikes in the z-value meant a tap, which in turn triggered the text-to-speech (TTS) output.

Challenges we ran into

When using the accelerometer values to trigger the TTS, we noticed that the phone thought it was tapped when picked up by the user or when walking around. Hence, we had to find a way to combat this flaw by finding a more accurate way to determine the phone's current state (whether it is on the table or in the air).

Accomplishments that we're proud of

The fact that we found out a way for the phone to detect taps/bumps is a big achievement, as we had to experimentally test the amount of acceleration that changed when this happened, differentiating from a tap or just a slight movement.

What we learned

We learned that even the simplest of apps can take time to create, and even more time to perfect (which we still haven't done yet). We also learned that sometimes apps don't have to be so far-fetched and complicated to be cool and useful, as is demonstrated by Tapioca.

What's next for Tapioca

We are considering to continue the development of this app to work out the minor bugs and issues. Once perfected, we can put it on the Google Play Store, and allow anyone to get this app for free.

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Updates

posted an update

8:00 PM - After impressing the judges by the usefulness and creativity of our app, we were awarded 1st place at the hackathon! In addition to winning, everyone in our team received Samsung Gear VR headsets (although neither of us has a compatible phone). Regardless, we would like to thank ANova Hacks for giving us this opportunity, and are planning to take our app to the next level, soon perfecting and even putting it on the Google Play Store.

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posted an update

3:30 PM - We finally discovered a way to counter the issue. Restricting the app to run only if the x and y-axis accelerometer values are below 1 m/s^2 ensures that the app is lying flat on a table, and not vertically or horizontally in one's pocket.

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posted an update

2:30 PM - While we are trying to figure out how to solve the issue, we discovered a way to have text-to-speech (TTS) output for notifications that the user receives on his/her phone. This gave us the idea of adding a secondary feature of reading these notifications on bump/tap, and we will consider integrating this into the app as well.

I also forgot to mention that we changed the app name to "Tapioca" (TAP-ioca).

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posted an update

1:05 PM - I guess we spoke to soon. While the app serves its intended purpose when resting on the table, it also seems to get triggered when we simply place it in our pockets or walk around. We will have to find ways to work around this issue by cleverly using input from other sensors to get a more accurate prediction of what state the phone is in (on the table vs. in our hands).

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posted an update

9:30 AM - We came up with the idea of creating "Knock o' Clock," which is an app where the user has their phone in their pocket. If they would like to know the time, they simply need to tap/bump their phone/pocket, and it will say the time out loud.

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