Semester of Apps: 8 of 15

This past weekend I attended HackIllinois in Urbana-Champaign and worked with some amazing hackers from all over! And while I’m still dozing off while writing this the next day after my substitution with caffeine over sleep I wish the Hackathon didn’t have to end.

The amazing hackers

Our team spent a week brainstorming ideas and eventually started centering on a central problem most everyone shares. When we go to large events and network, say at a job fair, or even a Hackathon, we meet so many people so fast. It’s annoying to pull out your phone after each person you meet to add them on LinkedIn, and it’s even harder to try and remember names later in the day when you have free time. Well we wanted to solve this problem by seamlessly helping you make connections while never having to touch your phone.

And so HandShake was born.

Handshake homepage (made by one of our amazing hackers!)

HandShake is a native iOS app that uses Apple’s CoreLocation framework with the help of Firebase as a backend to help you make connections while you focus on the conversations. To do this, we used CoreLocation to get the current user’s latitude and longitude coordinates. Then we send this information to Firebase followed by a query to find all users within a few meters of the user. While this is all happening in your pocket, we update a table view on your account filled with all the people you’ve come in close contact with during the day.

Tyler sure does look like Kobe…

After your networking event, you can go back to your hotel room and look through the list of people you’ve encountered. After seeing someone you remember having a conversation with, you can send them a Handshake!

If this is your photo, be happy to know that it’s the #1 picture when searching “Computer Science Professor”

By sending a Handshake, the other person will receive a notification from you to exchange information. If they accept, you will then make a new contact and be given their LinkedIn and (if they choose to share) Facebook, email, and phone number.

What’s in store for HandShake?

This was such a fun project to work on that solves an actual problem, networking can be messy and difficult. With a team of such great developers, there is a good possibility that we will continue to push updates in our free time. One of the biggest change will probably be in our backend provider. While Firebase is great for having a free service, there are better option. Hosting the Parse API on a Mongo server or something similar may be the next course of action. Maybe you’ll see it on the App Store one day soon! If so, hopefully we’ll connect via HandShake.

Happy Hacking!

P.S. Thank you to all the amazing U of I students for a great weekend and to all the wonderful sponsors (especially Apple) who answered all our questions along the way!

HandShake website

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