CaCarma – Mobile Media Final Proposal (11/16/2010)

For my final project in Mobile Media, I plan to make a mobile web application for drivers.  The app would have two major functions:

1. Help drivers avoid speeding tickets through a publicly shared speed-trap tagging system.

2. Help drivers travel at a constant speed without using cruise-control, by inputting a desired speed range.


In the “trap tagging” mode, drivers simply tap the screen to tag a speed trap at their current location.  When a driver approaches a tagged trap, they are notified ahead of time of its location and encouraged to slow down.


In the “target speed” mode, users input a upper and lower limit to their speed.  Should they drive too fast or too slow, the app notifies them with visual and auditory cues, assisting them in staying within their desired range.

Mobile Media Midterm: Qoords (10/12/2010)

For the midterm, I went forward with my location-tracking application. One of my goals was to make the application usable on an iPhone in the Safari browser app. The below screen shots were taken off my iPhone, illustrating some of the app’s functionality.


The app is iPhone friendly with large buttons and full-res imagery.


Its easy to find your location and save it to the database.


You can see all the saved locations and load them to the map.

The Concept

The Concept is to create an browser-based application for easily storing your location and accessing your stored entries. The finished app would have unique users, allowing an opportunity for people to search, share, and collaborate with one another’s data. In this initial execution, there is only a single default user, so all stored locations are put into the same place.

The Technical Details

This app utilizes PHP, Javascript, HTML, and SQL to function. I’ve made use of the Google Maps API for javascript for most of the front-end functionality, such as finding a location, inputting an existing location, and dragging around the location markers to adjust the positions.

Once a position is determined, it can get stored in the database using a simple form for creating a name. Then in the ‘list’ view these stored entries are listed and can be clicked on to load them on the map.

Much of the development of the app went into fine tuning this very functionality.

Next Steps

The next step is to make a user table in the database and allow users to login to the site. Once you are logged in as a unique user, you could have your own unique location data to add to and read back from. And once their are multiple users in the community, there would be the ability to connect to one another and choose whether your locations are shared publicly, among your connected peers, or not at all.

The whole concept for this app initially came from the desire to track a food truck, so I’d also like the ability to have users upload their own images to use as a marker on the map, instead of the default marker.

In general, there are numerous ways to expand upon this concept and build a great, usable app. I see this midterm assignment as a great kickoff point, and now need to plug 100 more hours into the coding to really push this application further.

Mobile Media Midterm Proposal (10/05/2010)

I’m super interested in working with location-based services and the google maps API to build an browser-based mobile app for iPhone and Android. Last week at my internship at The Barbarian Group, a bunch of us got lunch together from this mobile food truck that is a local favorite. The truck is seldom there, so when it gets spotted, there’s a surge of interest and a group gets organized to head over together.

It dawned on me that there should be a simple way for the food trucks of NYC to be able to easily post their locations to a centralized place where potential customers can look them up and track them down. So my original idea was to simply allow food truck workers to log into a website, post their location, and go on with selling their food. But next it occurred to me that a lot of people could take advantage of this service. Now that our society and culture has dramatically changed and we are all ‘on-the-go’ a large percentage of our time, it makes increasing sense to be able to post your actual location to the people you want to have find you.

Foursquare does a good job of putting geo-tagging location technology at our fingertips, but at its core, Foursquare is a game about earning points, being cool/exclusive, and winning Mayor titles/badges as a reward for your on-the-go activities. But the very notion of ‘checking-in’ is temporary. To check in to a coffee shop could mean that you stopped in briefly, or that you even just passed by it. But what if you plan to set up your computer and work there all afternoon? And what if you want your colleagues, friends, and family to know you’re there so they can stop in and visit you? Or better yet, what if you are moving back and forth between your two offices, two apartments, three client offices, and five errands, and you’d like your spouse to come and find you when they get out of work?

For both food trucks and regular people, I want to make finding one another and broadcasting your coordinates much simpler. So I’d like to build a web-based service called Qoords to help do this.

sample screen (in progress)

sample screen (in progress)

At the core of the app is the location-grabbing script that we learned about last week. Linking it with the google maps API gives you a nice moveable map at your fingertips. Some of the key functionality of the service would be:

1. Post my coordinates
2. Show a list of my past posts
3. Show a business/friend’s location
4. Add a business/friend to follow
5. What’s hot?
6. Search for businesses, friends

On the backend, there would be a database storing longitude and latitude coordinates, a user id, and a timestamp with each post. There would be a second table storing the friends and businesses you are linked to, electing to share your information. Probably there would be two types of publishing (everyone, versus select circle only). All of the functionality would simply be inserting, updating, and extracting info from the db and displaying it to the onscreen map.

The app would be free and open to all platforms, as it would accessed through a web browser, rather than from a dedicated app. Tailoring it to be optimized for various screen sizes would be as simple as having a few separate style sheets.

Obviously building this whole concept is a pretty large undertaking. So for the midterm, I need to strategize what core functionality I would be tackling first, given there is only two weeks time to pull it all off. There are numerous existing services that this concept overlaps with, so I hope to borrow a lot of ideas, rather than reinventing the wheel.

Mobile Media – Text based phonebook (9/21/2010)


The challenge in thinking up ideas for SMS based applications is that many applications would simply work better via the web or a mobile device.  Why use text?  Are there any ideas where being SMS based is a necessity or a strength, versus an inconvenience.  Most of the SMS based apps out there that seem to work fall into one of two categories:

1. They app is intended to collect money, via your phone bill (like donating to the victims of the Haiti earthquake)

2. The app is intended for fledgling nations that use SMS rather than web-browsing

Katherine Keane and I sought out to create an app for the ITP community, and we didn’t want to take anyone’s money, nor did we want people to stop using web browsers when appropriate.

There has been a need in the ITP community for a centralized phonebook which lists students’ phone numbers.  Recently a post to the email list invited people to add their name to a public google spreadsheet with this same intent.  However, very few people elected to participate.  One reason why is that the information on a spreadsheet is extremely accessible.  Its just as easy to look up one number as it would be copy all the numbers.  So some people are apprehensive about putting their name into such an open-book format.

Kat and I devised a plan to put this same info into an app that you can text to search for names.  Because of the cost and time that it takes to lookup a single number, it is very unlikely that someone would take the time to extract all the numbers.  Also, because the data is searched based, it would more difficult to find the names of people you don’t know and aren’t specifically looking for.

The basic technology behind our concept is that when you text a particular keyword to a particular phone number, the message gets forwarded to a php script.  This script processes your text and performs a small set of functions like looking up a name, adding a name, or editing a name.  Special characters like  @ and ! are used to activate these various modes.

We have prototyped this concept and it is working.  We have some special cases to design around and debug, like if someone sends an empty message, includes more than one special character, or somehow alters the incoming message to be otherwise undesirable.

We hope to launch this into the wild this week and look forward to getting people’s feedback.

Link to the dynamic php file.  Link to the source code as text.

SMS App Concepts (9/14/2010)
  1. One-Time Password SMS-based security system.  Rig a solenoid to a lock and text the correct password to unlock remotely.
  2. ITP phone directory – Access an online phone directory by texting a search query with part of all of someone’s name.  Receive all matching contacts via text.
  3. Password Manager – remember your locker combinations, bank account numbers, email passwords and more.  Simply text a search query, authenticate from your unique phone number, and get your passwords texted back to you.
  4. Text me my class schedule – text your NYU netID number and receive back your class schedule, for that day or that week.
  5. Calendar Reminders – sync your calendar to a database and receive reminders for important appointments via text.
  6. NYC scavenger hunt event – follow clues to various locations where you uncover authentication codes.  Text in the codes to receive the next clue.
  7. Inspirational quotes – hundreds of inspirational quotes are stored and individual quotes are sent to subscribers at random times of the day.
  8. I think you’re rad – I think you’re hot: text a middleman about people at ITP who you are interested in connecting with or intimately connecting with.  If you are mutually interested, the texts go through to each other.