The prompt of the hackathon was "life hacks." I thought if we wanted to address a city-wide problem, we could solve it with a city-wide collective "life hack."

Traffic is really bad in Cupertino, especially around schools. Although the school district attempts to encourage kids to walk to school, few do. This is likely because walking is often seen as a chore or inconvenience. If walking to school, or better yet, walking in general, could be turned into a game, people would be much more likely to walk.

Humans love games and competition. If you don't believe it, look at Khan Academy's brilliant use of points and badges: by taking advantage of the competitive playful side of students, they are able to get kids to voluntarily learn subjects like math that they previously dreaded.

What it does

Tino Walks "gamifies" walking by turning walking into a series of Challenges. Walkers are incentivized to complete Challenges by the distribution Rewards.

There are two apps (I only had enough time to mock one of them): an app for walkers and an app for vendors.

Walkers browse challenges published by vendors. The challenges require them to walk a certain distance in a certain amount of time. In return for completing the challenge, walkers are rewarded by vendors. The rewards may be material (e.g., a free Frappuccino if the vendor is Starbucks), or non-material (e.g., a digital badge of accomplishment similar to those awarded by Khan Academy).

Vendors publish challenges for walkers. Vendors choose the distance, time limit, and reward for the walkers.

Vendors are typically large entities. They can be businesses (e.g., Yogurtland), schools, libraries, charities, clubs, or even the city of Cupertino. Smaller groups or individuals can be vendors too, but they will likely have a harder time allocating rewards because they generally have less resources than larger entities.

Walkers benefit by saving gas and improving their health.

Vendors benefit by gaining business (if they offer discounts or free goods/services), and improving their reputation (they can hang a "Proud sponsor of Tino Walks" poster on their window).

All citizens of Cupertino benefit by enjoying a city with less traffic and pollution, and more parking spaces when they do need to drive.

How I built it

I created a mock with React and Google Maps. By "mock," I mean the app is not actually functional, it just looks nice. I knew that implementing real-time GPS tracking, a backend, a database, and authentication by myself in 13 hours was unrealistic. I elected to present a proof-of-concept instead, because I reasoned that it would be most valuable to share the idea with others.

Challenges I ran into

As mentioned above, there was no way I was going to implementing real-time GPS tracking, a backend, a database, and authentication by myself in 13 hours. As a result, I only implemented a mock for the walker app so far. I still need to write the vendor app.

What I learned

"If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together."

Working solo offered great flexibility, but there was so much to be done that I could have benefitted by having teammates to offload some of the work.

What's next for Tino Walks

I will write the app for vendors. They will be allowed to design digital badges for the walkers, or give out real-life rewards. The app will track who completed each of their challenges so they know who to give the real-life rewards to.


A very unstable mock can be found at It might stop working altogether if I revoke the Google API key, because it seems expensive according to their Pricing Page.

EDIT (12 hours 33 minutes into hackathon): I have already incurred a bill of over $3.00 from just my use alone. I'm definitely revoking the API key soon.

Built With

Share this project: