Tertiary education serves as an iconic coming of age experience for students to obtain a degree and to make connections with a diverse range of people. However, the student experience has been hampered by COVID-19 restrictions following the cancellation of in-person classes, lectures and university events. Students cannot rely on their support network of friends and are prematurely immersed in an online learning environment consisting of basic resources (online lectures and tutorials). A lack of interaction with peers, professors and tutors exacerbates the once tight-knit university community. With 76% of students surveyed finding online learning ineffective, such a disruptive educational landscape can demotivate and lead to loneliness and depression, making learning significantly more difficult without a medium for student discussion (Degree of Connection USYD survey, July 19 2020). This issue is prevalent for all students, especially first years and newly transferred students.

What it does

Unify is a socialising application that allows students to match and chat with new peers based on their degree, subject code, and interests. It takes inspiration from dating apps but removes the features of swiping and profiling based on appearance. Using a custom algorithm and IBM Watson Personality Insights, Unify automatically matches like-minded students together and allows them to organically build the rapport that is absent in the current online learning environment. 

For the user it is as simple as hitting the ‘Unify’ button in the home screen to match with other like-minded students who are requesting or have requested for a match. Then, once a match is made, the student can tap on the person’s profile and begin chatting and making new friends.

How I built it

In the front-end we used react-native and expo to have easy cross platform abilities. In the backend we used Node JS and Express accompanied by Firebase Firestore and functions. IBM Watson, and Auth0 were also incorporated in order to enhance the user experience by providing easy and secure social logins and better matching options.

What's next for Unify

Building out the UI further and refining the matching algorithm are the highest priority.

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