With the COVID-19 pandemic, people such as healthcare workers and the vulnerable are struggling even more than ever to complete essential and basic tasks such as obtaining groceries or medicine and doing laundry, lawn, or property maintenance. Seeing Facebook groups with people wanting to support those in need and with many people looking for jobs due to the massive rise in unemployment, our team thought there had to be a better way to connect those who need help and those who can help. Hearing about the recent news of a dying corona patient asking Alexa, the virtual hands-free assistant developed by Amazon, "How do I get help?", we were inspired to make our application be barrier-free by making it accessible through voice-commands.
What it does
InstaSupport is an app that fulfills orders for various tasks by allowing users to input a task they need assistance with and sending that information to nearby "helpers" who can fulfill the given task. The user will cover the cost of completing the task (i.e. grocery bill if ordering groceries) and will be able to add a tip that will be displayed to the "helpers" before they decide whether or not to accept an order. The app will also display the distance, the designated timeframe, and the specifics of each task. InstaSupport can be connected to smart speakers like Alexa, enabling users to place orders for tasks through simple voice commands such as "Alexa, InstaSupport" or "Alexa, send support". Integrating voice commands simplifies and expedites the ordering process and increases the accessibility for people who may have trouble navigating through the app such as the elderly or disadvantaged.
How we built it
We designed the UI in Sketch and exported it to Zeplin. For the web application, we plan to use vue.js for the front-end and use MySQL for the back-end. For the mobile application, we plan to design both an Android and IOS version. After we design the web and mobile application, we plant to create an InstaSupport API through the AlexaSkill developer. With the implementation of AlexaSkill, users will be able to ask for help by audio.
Challenges we ran into
Given the short time-frame of the Hackathon, we weren't able to actually start developing the frontend or the backend of the application.
What we learned
We learned about AlexaSkills, a powerful tool that will increase the user-accessibility of our app.
What's next for InstaSupport
We plan to enhance the functionalities of InstaSupport by developing the peer to peer matchmaking service in addition to the API for the Amazon skill which enables users to access the functionalities of the app through voice-commands. Once the app is developed, we plan to publish the app on the android store and reach out to local Facebook groups to gain users and helpers
alexaskill, alexaskillskit, amazon-alexa, and-for-the-alexa-part, instasupportapi, java, prezi, scratch, sketch, zeplin