James & Init

Read about James Wang and his project, Init!

James (far right) with Init team

James (far right) with the Init team

  • How did Init come about?

It dates back to my work with the Scarborough Campus Chinese Club (SCCC). We held at least one event every month and we promoted through booths and Facebook. In recent years we realized that our way of marketing was getting outdated. I wanted to create an app that connects the students on campus while helping clubs market and manage their events.

Most students say that they only participate in four events every year, and most of them want to participate in more. Students say they can’t find events they’re interested in but when I show them their options they are surprised because they are unaware of so many events.

When I found out about The Hub I entered the 2013 AppStar competition where we came in second place. We then decided to combine projects with the first place winners to create Init.

  • What was your motivation for creating Init?

The reason we created Init was because we believe students should not just spend time going in and out of classrooms. Instead they should get hands on experience and bring their ideas to life!

  • What are some features of Init?

Init is a platform for student organizations to manage their events, and enables users to customize profiles, manage a calendar of events, and follow newsfeed.

It also lets students store membership cards and event tickets on their phone. We are working to collaborate with student groups at UTSC. We hope to eventually integrate with social media platforms such as Facebook so that students will be able to get all their updates through the Init app.

  • Tell me about your experience at The Hub:

I see The Hub as a great place for people to share and come up with different ideas. Students can bring their ideas to life through a project! I’ve met a bunch of people from different departments and there are more and more new faces here.

  • Why is innovation important?

Innovation is important because it improves people’s lives. I believe that if you want to earn a fortune for yourself, you need to be able to improve other people’s lives first. Lots of people think it’s the other way around where you need to earn money for yourself before you can help others, but if you don’t have the ability to help others, you don’t have the ability to earn a fortune.

Meet Matt & Hermes

Matt Olan was one of the first students at UTSC to discover and utilize The Hub’s resources. Let’s take a look at his experience!

Matt Olan

Matt Olan

  • What was your experience like working at The Hub?

Honestly, I couldn’t imagine my university experience without it; The Hub is like a second home to me. I’ve been here since the very beginning as a result of my participation in the AppStar competition. The Hub has changed the way I interact with people in my field. It is a space for computer scientists and other students, and we’ve managed to create our own community here.

  • Tell us about your project Hermes:

The project started during April 2013 at Angelhack, one of the world’s biggest hackathons. This was during the NSA surveillance scandal where data was allegedly being collected from large Internet services. These events inspired me to create, with a small team of my friends, an open source storage system that was safe and secure for anyone to use. We introduced Hermes as a distributed file storage network that allows people to store and retrieve files in a secure way.

Currently Hermes has been split into multiple sub-projects. One of which is orq, a rather technical implementation of a new technology that allows for a large piece of data and split up in a way that can be sent through an unreliable connection and be recovered on the other side.

  • What was your motivation for creating Hermes?

I am a strong supporter of the open source community and making things that others can use in their own projects. It’s my hope to move forward the frontier of technology to help the greater community.

  • Why are you a promoter of innovation?

We live in a world that necessitates innovation to not only support our lifestyles, but for survival. Without it, we would likely be still stuck in the stone ages.

Check out Hermes at https://github.com/Hermes and https://github.com/olanmatt/orq!

Jack Yiu and justPlay

Jack Yiu is a third year student in Computer Science and also the mastermind behind justPlay, a mobile web application that helps UTSC students discover people to play sports with during TPASC’s drop-in hours.

Jack Yiu

Jack Yiu

  • What was the motivation behind justPlay?

My motivation mainly stems from the amount of effort needed to find people to play sports within UTSC. When I was in first year, I found it extremely difficult to find people that played badminton regularly. There were no recreational clubs for free play sports; existing clubs were too competitive and time consuming. All I wanted was to relax and play my favourite sport. But the effort needed to set up a game was too much and often deterred people from participating.

I was really frustrated because the courts were free! People usually have to pay 20-30 dollars for a one hour session! As someone who has rented a lot of badminton courts, free courts were a dream come true. Yet the problem was that very little people play regularly.

The idea of justPlay is to make it super easy to find people to play a sport with. We make it effortless to find when drop-in sessions take place, and subsequently the people that are interested in playing that day. Furthermore, it’s a great way for groups to find the last person or two to start a game (take football for example, it needs 8-10 people to play a game). Ultimately, anyone that is interested in playing regularly or trying out a sport while making some new friends, justPlay is here to help you get started!

  • What’s your experience like working at The Hub?

I’ve been working on my project for eight months now and I see The Hub as a great place for people to come together and work out problems together. Gray Graffam – the director of The Hub – provides a lot of help with marketing the product and finding the right people to test the application.

  • Why is innovation important?

Innovation is about being passionate and driven to solve a particular problem. It’s an attitude that constantly questions why things are done in a certain way and what better options are out there.

Let’s help support Jack by checking out justPlay on www.just-play.ca, try it out and tell him what you think! Find out more at https://www.facebook.com/UTSCJustPlay!

Winners of AppStar 2014!

AppStar is a contest that has been happening for the past 3 years at The Hub. This is a chance for students to design a tech project, built it in The Hub, and showcase it with a chance to take home prizes of up to $3,000! Let us congratulate the winners of the 2014 AppStar contest!

AppStar Awards

AppStar Awards

  • First place: UTSC BaseCamp by Vlad Vassilovsky and Victor Belokour.

UTSC BaseCamp is a mobile app that provides students with a smooth transition into University life. The app does this by integrating campus resources, mentoring programs, student clubs and services, and personal growth opportunities. In addition, BaseCamp is working with the UTSC Department of Student Life to keep the content up-to-date for the students.

Some additional features include a Frequently Asked Questions section, a checklist of things for students to do, sessional dates, and even a link to UTSC email! Students will be able to quickly access these resources anytime and anywhere on their Android devices with the help of UTSC BaseCamp!

UTSC Basecamp can be downloaded from Google Play now!

  • Second place: ARIN by Ryan D’Souza and Jamie Tung.

ARIN is a mobile application being created with help from the Department of Biological Sciences. The purpose of this app is to help with the identification of fish – which can be helpful for fishers and biologists alike.

Its features include: fish family selection, taxonomy filtration process, image recognition, user identification, crowd-sourcing data management, and a website component.

ARIN is an excellent and ambitious project, yet to be released.

  • Third place: UTSC Chat by Cheuk Man Kit, Xu Wei Xue, & Ma Samson.

UTSC Chat aims to be an official communication tool for UTSC students. This app delivers a live chat function for students enrolled in the same courses. It allows each user to chat and send images or documents, and offers settings that make it highly customizable. What’s really cool is the common search tool where students can reach out to other students taking the same course, in the same year or program. With this new app, students on campus can become more connected!

UTSC Chat is yet to be released.

  • And special mentions of: WhereRUTSC by Nick Olson Harris, ShiXian Liu, Raymond Mendelovits, & Chengyu Xiong.

WhereRUTSC is all about helping UTSC students locate one another and setting a time to meet up. As busy students we all know what it feels like to have trouble coordinating when to meet up with a classmate. This mobile app includes features like a friend list, a map showing where your friend is, settings, and even a way to plan out those complicated group meetings.

The developers of this app are currently redesigning it, for consideration for how its functionality might be integrated into existing utilities.

William Mak and Lyra

Meet William Mak, a 4th year computer science student that has been working in The Hub since summer 2013. Since joining The Hub Will has had the opportunity to develop four projects! Let’s ask him some questions about his time innovating at The Hub.

William Mak

William Mak

  • What is Lyra?

Lyra is essentially a music player that activates through computer vision.

  • What is your motivation for creating Lyra?

The goal is that Lyra will someday replace current music players. I often hear people complaining that the shuffle on their music player just isn’t good enough and I’ve experienced the problem myself. That was why I decided to create a music player that knows what you want to hear.

  • What is it like working on a project at The Hub?

The process of working on Lyra has been a difficult but rewarding one. Working with computer vision can be challenging. As we all know, computers are very exacting; they need a great deal of help to interpret what they see and sense.

We’ve been working on this for six months, and honestly, The Hub gives me great motivation to work on stuff. I hear a lot of computer science students say they want to work on side projects but they never do. But with the Hub It really motivates you to do it! It has been a great experience working in The Hub.

  • Tell me about your other projects.

The first project I worked on is called Hermes, it is a distributed cloud file storage system. It was created based on an issue we saw with file source systems like Dropbox and Google Drive. There are a lot of privacy issues involved, and there’s always limited space. With Hermes, no one else can access your files and there’s unlimited storage. It’s an open source for anyone to join and use, it’s free for all!

I’m also working on an URL shortener for specific GPS locations. It’s called Talon and it helps narrow down a location just through a link. It’s already workable so look forward to the release!

Finally I have Selenate which is a web automation for programmers to write a small script that automates a browser.

  • Why is innovation important?

If we don’t innovate, we die. This is what The Hub is all about, giving you that space to nurture your innovation and ideas.

SALT

front-SALT

Salt (Scarborough, A Little Taste).

What is SALT?

Salt is an initiative that leverages a multidisciplinary food studies initiative at the university, situating it within its local, cultural context of community. It is an adventure in food cuisine.

SALT is a database-driven app (think content management for the phone) that provides an introduction to selected, notable food cuisines – and their dishes – in Scarborough, Ontario.

SALT’s content is maintained by Culinaria and the Food Studies Program, University of Toronto, Scaraborough, and is offered free to the public on both Android and iOS platforms.

The current state of SALT is one where the technological platform has been created, and content is to be created and completed, as we drive to version 1.0.

Prateek Rao and Contestry

Read further to learn more about Prateek Rao—the man behind Contestry.

Prateek Rao

Prateek Rao

  • What is Contestry?

Contestry is a digital contest entry service targeted to contesting enthusiasts aka ‘contesters’; individuals who have made a hobby out of entering and winning the thousands of online contests and sweepstakes that exist on the internet.

My start-up aims to help the estimated 257,000 Canadians who participate in this hobby by sorting through the thousands of contests that are available and providing them with a personalized list of contests they would actually like to enter. Contestry also provides automatic entry services to subscribers who wish to have their preferred contests entered for them so they don’t have to spend countless hours entering these contests on their own.

  • Why and when did you create it?

The idea of creating a personalized contest entry service had been spinning around in my mind for more than a year. What really caused the idea to spark into action was an entrepreneurship competition organized by UpStart Innovation Society and the Management and Economics Students’ Association where I pitched the idea to a panel of entrepreneurs and professors and ended up winning.

I didn’t stop there. After the competition, I wrote up a business plan and took the idea to a business consultant at Enterprise Toronto, who then recommended me to Summer Company; a mentorship program for entrepreneurs—that backed me with a $3,000 grant to help get my business off the ground.

Through the process, The Hub has been an invaluable resource. It is where I have been able to meet and exchange ideas with other talented entrepreneurs and innovators. Through its collaborative workshops with MaRS, it has enabled me to analyze and improve my initial business model by applying lean start-up concepts.

  • What are your passions and which program are you in?

Aside from my start-up, I work with Nspire Innovation Network, a non-profit organization dedicated to building Canada’s next generation of leaders and entrepreneurs. Contestry has so far been a phenomenal learning experience as being the founder of early-stage start-up means that I have had to wear many hats. I am in the Management Co-op Program.

AppStar Networking

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Come join us in The Hub on Monday, April 28th, from 3 to 5 pm to learn more about the upcoming AppStar competition.

  • What is a research app?
  • How to best benefit Student Life?
  • Meet others who are searching for a team
  • Link to research ideas that have come forward

And celebrate a bit of freedom, following exams!