As you can see in the midst of COVID-19, we are all struggling in some way or some form. Whether it be the lack of toilet paper, shortage of hospital resources, or business trying to promote their take-out to stay alive, Adventure.US harnesses the power of location to the N-th level helping with these causes.
What it does
Adventure.US take the concept of the map and transform it into a World. A world that's unites together where people like us can give and receive help from the supportive community around you. The true value of Adventure.US is that it is an all-in-one platform, where the users can see all the happenings and interact with the locals conveniently in one screen with minimal click-through. This gives great power to businesses to promote on our platform to revive and flourish their business. It is difficult for small businesses to reach the first page of Google search and by promoting based on location, it can translate to an increase in foot traffic. In addition, our app will reward users for being more active by proposing a gamified Avatar character that levels up as they interact with businesses and each other, thereby increasing the foot traffic and the engagement with the real world more and more.
How I built it
Adventure.US is built with the power of Mapbox powering our location platform. Building natively allows us more fine-tune control for Mapbox's API navigation, AR, notification, and more. We used Android Studio with java as the programming language of choice to power our backend and build our Android application. Using Google Firestore allows us a real-time database for us to achieve the lively world post-bubble popups. Since it is a social map connecting you with other users of similar interests, we choose to show a broad other user's location in a 1-mile radius. By using the power of hashtags and understand what is trending, we also show on the map what users may like as well creating a stronger sense of community surrounding that hashtag. My team and I are building Adventure.US with the idea of making the app feels like a world instead of a lonely experience filled with information. In addition, we questioned a lot on what is the meaning of adventure and by allowing the transition from virtual to real-life, getting rewards for interacting more with the app accomplishes a percentage of our mission to make the app adventurous. Our avatar system and allowing users to quest and embark on challenges with one another makes our app hopefully fun and engaging to use.
Challenges I ran into
Initially we chose to implement our app with Google Maps, however, further down the line, it would be costly to go with the plan, limited to countries like China, and does not include in the navigation API. Also, trying to go fast by using cross-platform technology such as React Native caused us to have to build our application from scratch as Mapbox documentation was limited. In addition, we are dealing with location data and thus need to build a robust system to protect our users and we have yet to figure out all the nuanced details on how to protect our user's location data.
Accomplishments that I'm proud of
I face the issue of thumbing or indexing through endless information that is not locally relevant and most importantly not convenient nor intuitive. I am excited if our app is designed properly, many people especially businesses recovering from the coronavirus economical hit or even trying to stay afloat during these times can make great use of our app by engaging to their community in a unique way.
What I learned
There is much more to building a product than just writing code. A lot of my time was involved in figuring out what is the message of the app, user-testing, and design. Local businesses express their desire to list local hiring, especially for restaurants. There's no current good way to do that for them. There are too many platforms out there and would like for a convenient way to get the word out to people. Non-business users express a high desire to use our app to find out local deals while simultaneously knowing how much effort it'd take to get there and knowing how trendy happening is right now via our live world popups.
What's next for Adventure.US
I am beginning to look for investments to grow Adventure.US's operations. Meanwhile, my team and I will continue building an easy and convenient to use a platform that's fun to use. And then launch!
android-studio, firebase, firestore, java, mapbox