Weekend Project #3: Aid-Ar

Hacking to help with Disaster Relief


Weekend projects were a thing that my roommate and I coined back in the day when we first started going after internships and hackathon acceptances. Our goal was to make and publish a project over the span of a weekend. No hackathon, no class, no prizes. This is purely making for fun. The one requirement, however, is that these projects have to be done within a weekend from start to finish and they need to be complete (enough) to push into production as an MVP.

##Aid-AR I had the idea for Aid-AR a while ago. I was thinking of a way to help people using mobile apps after a disaster. Of course, I set out to build it (I called it HelpLens at the time), but I never was able to really follow through with it. However, it seemed perfect for a Hackathon project. So, that’s when I pitched it to my group of friends, and we set out to build Aid-AR. Our final product was better and beyond my original idea. We managed to get 1st place at HackUTA! I do hope it’s something we can follow through on and test if it delivers.

Check it out here

###Well balanced team This was a team effort that we did for HackUTA. It fell perfectly into my weekend project line and our professor guaranteed a 100 on our Digital Logic Final if we won a hackathon. The timing couldn’t be any better.

Wilson -> is a bada** iOS developer, he did all of the execution on that part. A lot of front-end work, especially overcoming the challenges with Apple’s new ARKit.

Benny -> probably one of the finest frontend web developers I know. He tried out vue.js for the first time in this project, although he uses react often.

Cyrus -> a CS hardware expert who knows all about his Arduinos and logic boards. He is the hardware expert

Myself -> just your everyday full-stack guy. On this project, I handled the backend on this project, built completely and hosted with AWS.

##Project Components We utilized all of our strengths fairly equally throughout our entire process. There were three main moving parts that brought the entire project together.

AR App

This was all of Wilson’s work. He brought the entire app together using ARKit and Swift. When someone opens the app, they have the option of finding someone to help or marking themselves as help wanted.

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The app utilized current location information to display the points around. It also went as far to show hazard information when navigating to an area. Most landscapes change in a disaster, so this is useful for navigating unfamiliar terrain.

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Dashboard

Benny utilized vue.js to build a web dashboard to display the data we had. He used Mapbox to plot points of the different people and the locations. The dashboard is useful for any service to monitor the Aid-AR ecosystem. It may be even given to emergency services to work alongside the app. The dashboard could also be used manually to assign people to those that are in need of aid.

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Hardware Button

Cyrus took to his talents to build a box that could perform the function of the mobile app in a physical box. An IoT device that works like a Life Alert. You press the button and it would then show up on the Dashboard. The entire thing was powered by a Photon board and the status was displayed using LED lights.

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The Backend

The great thing about an AWS backend is reliability. When Wilson needed a method, I could add it without having the entire thing go down on me. The same can’t be said for my past experience with express and localtunnel. We didn’t want to integrate callbacks and notifications into the app; after all, this was a hackathon. So Wilson would hit the backend at intervals of 1s each to make sure the data was fresh. No problem on my end. Cost me $0.07 for the entire weekend.Serverless rocks with AWS Lamba and API Gateway. It stays unbroken no matter the connectivity of my local computer.

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##Conclusion We all managed to score a 100 on our digital logic final and some great prizes. We even won the Best use of AWS prize. I didn’t learn a whole lot of new technologies this weekend, it was more of a refresher. However, I was able to fix my quick-start guide. Although I built the backend, it wasn’t a challenging build. In fact, it’s the same process every time. Provision a database, create a Lambda function and make an AWS.

Hence, next weekend, I wanted to finish up a project I started a while ago. It’s called Hackend, a fast single-click way to deploy a serverless backend. Simply pass in your AWS creds and it takes care of the rest such as creating a function, setting up API Gateway, and the necessary storage resources and returns a nice API URL. This was a good experience and it reiterates the need for a solution like Hackend.

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