Four first year Computing Science students have developed an app to ensure that everyone can experience the Inca trail to Machu Picchu with Professor Derrick Swartz, the Vice-Chancellor of Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University (NMMU) and two other members of the #Trailblazing team.
Each of the three trailblazers will have a smartphone with an app named BlazeIT.nmmu.ac.za, which has been specifically designed for them to share their journey, step by step. Their written memos, voice memos, photos and emojis will be uploaded to NMMU’s trailblazing website http://trailblazing.nmmu.ac.za/
Each time the trailblazers share what they are experiencing it is linked to a gps coordinate so that we can follow them in heart, mind and body the whole way. The app will also measure their heart rate, pulse and hydration levels.
“The challenge on the trail is that there is no cellphone reception or electricity, so the trailblazers will carry a small, satellite wifi hotspot, a foldable solar bank and battery packs to ensure they have power and connectivity throughout their journey,” says Gareth Andrews who developed the app with Qaanita Fataar, Keanan Flowerday and Josh Parker.
“The trailblazers can share their experience whenever they feel like it and when they stop for a break they can switch on the satellite hotspot and it will transmit their messages and photos, with the gps coordinates pinpointing with a marker exactly where on the trail they stopped to do these,” Flowerday explains.
Each of the trailblazers will have a different colour marker to identify who they are. And anyone who wants to respond to the trailblazers can leave a comment on the website.
The four developed the app in response to the VC’s call for students to come up with some way of sharing the journey with everyone.
“We are all in the mobile development class and when our computer science professor, Jean Greyling, challenged us to come up with something, we approached one of the Master’s students, Amir Saleh Zadeh, to mentor us in app innovation and development, which he willingly did,” says Fataar.
“We learnt so much from him and it also required substantial consulting on Google, YouTube and specific sites to source answers to various technical questions on coding and programming,” adds Parker.
The team says it’s been inspirational working on the project, and it has also given them ideas about a startup company where they develop custom-designed apps.
“Computer Science is capacitating us to be entrepreneurial and to build our own dreams because if we don’t do this, someone else will hire us to build theirs!” says Flowerday.
The VC being shown by the computing sciences students how to use the app.
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