EPFL launches its application for smartphones: the Pocket Campus

Entirely developed by the students of Professor George Candea, a new application for smartphones is going to make life easier on campus. This is an ideal tool for finding your way around the labyrinth of corridors and course options, keeping up with events, or finding someone on the site.

The development of this new application is a remarkable feat. The Pocket Campus – designed for smartphones running on Android – was created in only 14 weeks by a team of 22 students. The project was conceived in the Software Engineering course run by Professor George Candea.

The purpose of this application is to help students, graduates, staff and visitors to find their way around the EPFL campus.

The project was based on a survey of the needs of 200 users interviewed on campus. The application was then created from the results of the study. The result is impressive, as it seems to have taken account of the basic needs of the EPFL “population”:

- A precise positioning system enables the smartphone to identify the user’s position on the campus with an online map. This system is based on a Wi-Fi triangulation, which gives it two advantages: increased accuracy and positioning even within the buildings (where GPS is not available).
- The positioning data can be shared, to see who is where on the campus.
- The software can indicate the path to follow to find a room, an office, the nearest printer or even the nearest bathroom!
- A customizable and programmable calendar allows students to compile a study program in line with his or her interests, the course credits, and the requirements of the curriculum. Conflicts with other calendar items are automatically flagged.
- The restaurants are shown, together with the current waiting times, and their menus are updated in real time. Pocket Campus can even select dishes automatically, depending on the tastes of the user (vegetarian etc.), and you can share its suggestions and photos of the meals.
- The software also calculates public transport itineraries, making it possible to plan your travel from the metro station stop to anywhere in Europe. It even indicates the time required to walk to the nearest metro stop.
- And for those who come by car, Pocket Campus remembers where they parked their car.

“Most of the students have never worked on such an big software development project”, notes George Candea with enthusiasm. “They enjoyed themselves enormously, while learning a lot of things, even though the course required a considerable investment in terms of time.”

Pocket Campus is available for download as a beta version for smartphones running on the Android operating system. “This project is now becoming more important”, explains George Candea, “because many of the students on the course have decided to devote the next semester to it, with the objective of extending the application by adding additional functions, improving its performance and rendering it more robust.

Thus, Pocket Campus should soon be released on the Android application market, and perhaps even in the Apple Application Store. “We have many new ideas for enhancing the product” enthuses Professor Candea, “and we want to surprise the EPFL community!”

Author: Didier Bonvin
Source: Mediacom