Remind App: An Easy Way to Connect

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Remind is an app that helps teachers to connect with their students, sharing quick reminders about course related information. With the app, classes can connect:

Easily. Teachers sign up for the app and create a class through it. Students then receive a class code which they use to participate in course messaging.

Safely. Phone numbers are kept confidential in the class messages to ensure privacy. Teachers can only message the class collectively, not individually. They also serve as administrators and can access the message history.

Efficiently. Messages can include scheduling, voice clips, and image or document attachments. The app allows you to see who has viewed attachment content.

At No Charge. Teachers, students, and parents can use the app for free.

This Remind app is an easy way for teachers and students to stay connected about course updates.

 

Navigating Campus with Leap Motion

Leap Motion controller device is being used for virtual tours of Notre Dame.

Leap Motion controller device is being used for virtual tours of Notre Dame.

On my first class day of freshman year, I eagerly grabbed my backpack and headed to DeBartolo Hall. Looking at my campus map, I navigated my way to the DeBartolo building I had circled in red, but the walk started to feel a lot longer than it had when practiced my schedule a few days prior! The building was beautiful on the inside, but why did it look so different than I remembered? Confused, I swallowed my pride and asked for help. Imagine my surprise when I was told that I was at the wrong DeBartolo. With both a DeBartolo Hall and a Debartolo Performing Arts Center, Notre Dame’s campus seemed impossible to figure out!

Having spent a few years here, it’s easy to forget how confusing campus once seemed. Luckily, the Academic Technologies department hasn’t forgotten. At Freshman Orientation this year, they debuted a virtual tour, allowing users to navigate their way across campus simply by using their hands and the Leap Motion device.

 

 

Waleed Johnson developed this virtual tour by linking the Leap Motion device with Google Maps and Maps.nd.edu. Leap Motion is able to track the natural movement of the hand, providing 8 cubic feet of three dimensional, interactive space. Take a look at the technology in action:

 

 

As Waleed demonstrates, there are two options for navigation. The street view map combines Leap Motion technology with Google Maps street view. This allows users to look at a three dimensional version of campus, navigating as if they are actually walking across the quad. The second is a satellite view, linking Leap Motion to maps.nd.edu. While not as realistic, this option has labels for campus buildings. When the user hovers over a label, information about that building opens up. The virtual tour provides visitors and new students with an interactive experience in learning their way around Notre Dame’s campus.

 

Got Brain Activity Update

We ran an experiment yesterday with the Neurosky Mindwave Mobile Headset and used the Puzzlebox Orbit helicopter for a portion of the experiment.  Our goal was to better understand how the headset worked with live participants in an experiment situation.  We are still gathering the data at this time, but will publish the unscientific results on this blog in the near future.

Our experiment consisted of 3 separate tasks set to test whether certain activities would enhance the attention/focus of the participants.  Each task involved a Braingle.com memory test (the word test) and two of the tasks had brainwave information recorded for the participants using NeuroSky’s Recorder app.  We used the iPad for each task — two of those tasks were for recording brainwave data and the other for operating the Orbit helicopter.

We found five willing participants who had never used the Neurosky headset nor the Orbit helicopter.  So, for our N=5, we won’t be able to derive too much from the results, but we will be able to learn how to set up experiments for the headset and helicopter in the future which will be invaluable.

So, stay tuned for our unscientific results!

Campus Cocoa Coding Consortium

by Jeffrey Hanrahan, Academic Technologies

Throughout the University of Notre Dame and Saint Mary’s College, there are departments that are using Xcode and iOS to develop mobile and workstation applications for internal use, teaching, learning and research.

In an effort to collectively identify the application developers and pool everyone’s knowledge and expertise, a group named Campus Cocoa Coding Consortium (C4) was formed at the University of Notre Dame.  The purpose of the group is to help each other learn how to develop applications in Xcode and iOS, talk out code problems, conceptualize processes, troubleshoot programming workflows and design human interface elements.

The C4 group is composed of faculty and staff from the University of Notre Dame and Saint Mary’s College.  The knowledge level extends from novice to expert and knowledge is shared.  You get to hear about technical issues and information that you don’t find in the programming manuals.  Every member has some type of specialty knowledge and others get to learn this information.

There is a weekly brown bag lunch meeting with the purpose of discussions that get very technical in nature.  These are working meetings where code is written and tested.  The C4 project code resides in the web-based hosting service GitHub where the group members can access project files at any time from anywhere.

So far, the group has provided assistance for a mobile application from Architecture and is currently working on a facial recognition mobile application.

If you are a faculty/staff member at the University of Notre Dame or Saint Mary’s College and would like to join the C4 group, you can contact John Slaughter at jslaught [AT] nd.edu.

Guest Post: Mobile March Madness!

Today’s blog post is a guest article by ND’s own Tom Klimek. Manager of Network Services.  Tom is a big basketball fan, and in his copious spare time … 

bracket_2014It’s an annual rite of passage every spring.  The NCAA announces the field of teams for the tournament and the office pools begin.  I love college sports, particularly football and basketball and while I still partake in March Madness pools, this time of year also brings a fair amount of stress.  Since 2009 a friend and I have been developing apps for college football and March Madness.  It all started with an idea for a college football app, something I could see myself using throughout the season to keep track of schedules, scores, rankings, stadium seating charts, etc..

One day during a game of pick-up basketball at Rec Sports I shared the idea with a friend who liked the idea and offered to help. My first question was “Are you a C programmer “ ? He answered “yes” and I said OK let’s get started. At this point neither one of us have ever used a Mac nor programmed using an object oriented language. We proceeded to purchase a Mac Mini, establish a developer account with Apple, learn the SDK, and refine our idea.  About 7 months later and just in time for the college football season we launched our first app “Gridiron 2009”.  The app was well received and we were even fortunate enough to get featured by Apple for a few weeks to give us added exposure.

bracket_poolNext we were on to college basketball with a similar app and toward the end of the season we decided to create an app for the tournament originally named “Bracket Madness”.  The first version of this simply allowed you to enter a bracket and track you progress along with updates to final scores. The app was very popular selling as much as the college football app all season in one week’s time.

 

app_storeThe following year we decided to add pool functionality to the app. We anticipated that this would make the app more desirable but it also added a lot of complexity. Now in addition to maintaining an app and web site, we added an SQL database and server side scripting, along with scoring the brackets. There was a lot more that could go wrong and nearly no time to recover. It takes over a week to get an app approved even if it is just an update, and the window for sales is just over a week. A bad launch would lead to negative reviews and possibly doom the app. Hence the stress. The name was changed to “Men’s Bracket” after the NCAA claimed that “Bracket Madness” was a derivative of March Madness and over the years we have updated and improved the app, added an iPad version, and a Women’s version.

It is consistently in the top 5 Paid Sports Apps during the tournament and has been the #1 iPad Paid Sports App during the tournament for several years and this year for a brief time it was the #1 iPhone Paid Sports App.

Innovation happens all around us, and we thought it would be nice to feature Tom’s story during March Madness. If you’d like to get in touch with Tom you can email him at tklimek [AT] nd [DOT] edu. Good luck to everyone with your bracket competitions!  Here’s a link to an earlier story about the Gridiron app:

http://ndsmcobserver.com/2011/09/app-developers-achieve-top-rankings/

Got Brain Activity?

Ever wanted to see if you really had activity in your brain?  I know, sometimes your friends might wonder.  But you do.  The U.S. Archery Team uses brain activity to track their team’s focus and relaxation levels.  You can use it to fly a helicopter (okay it is just a toy helicopter).

You are probably thinking — hey I would like to be able to do that and actually convince my friends I have brain activity.  Well, you can.  Just buy a brain-computer interface and connect it to your computer or smartphone.  You may be thinking that sounds a bit complicated.  Not really.  You can do it yourself.  Just buy a NeuroSky MindWave Mobile headset (see image below) and download some apps from NeuroSky’s store and start proving your friends wrong!

NeuroSky MindWave Mobile Headset

Katie Dickerson (Computer Applications & Poverty Studies) has been testing out the NeuroSky MindWave Mobile headset for us with the Puzzlebox Orbit helicopter.  She has found the helicopter to be a bit hard to control.  Not because she doesn’t have any brain activity!  Quite the contrary.  She is having a hard time using the controls on the app to maneuver the helicopter.  She can get the helicopter to go up and down, but she just can’t get it to go anywhere else.  I’m sure it is just a matter of time until she gets that figured out.

We plan to use the headset to research how well the device can help people to focus.  Think of students and homework.  Employees and projects.  Faculty and their research.  You get the idea.  Anyway, stay tuned to our blog for an update of our research on the headset.  We hope to have something more to report back to you by the end of spring semester (maybe some pictures of Katie flying the Orbit too!).

Mobile Device Lab

Mobile Device Lab in B003 DeBartolo

Mobile Device Lab in B003 DeBartolo

Not having the proper resources for technology can be a major obstacle for developers. Notre Dame’s new Mobile Device Lab solves this problem, creating a space for developers to test applications on a variety of smartphones, tablets, and laptops free of cost. The Lab is located in the OIT Academic Technologies offices in the basement of DeBartolo hall, B003. Students can use any of the devices while in the Lab. Staff and faculty can check out devices for up to one week. To inquire about device availability or ask any questions, email mobile@nd.edu.

 

 

 

 

Currently, the Mobile Device Lab offers:

  • 14 smartphones running Android, Windows Phone, BlackBerry OS, and iOS
  • 9 tablets running Android, Windows 8, and iOS 7
  • 2 laptops running Chrome OS and Windows 7
  • Google Chromecast
  • Unlocked GSM 3G Modems

 

The Lab is unique because it offers a wide spectrum of devices. It features both the most popular devices on campus and the newest devices on the market. These are often not the same. For example, while Apple’s iPhone is currently the most popular phone on campus, the 3rd most popular device is the LG Optimus S, a smartphone released in 2010 running Android 2.2 (Android 4.4 was just released). The Mobile Device Lab has both, along with 25 other devices. This creates a unique opportunity for mobile developers on campus to see how their applications run on the devices that students and faculty use most.

A complete listing of available devices is provided on the mobileND website. Additionally, the Lab is accepting donations of both new and used mobile devices.

The Mobile Device Lab exists to serve. Contact mobile ND at mobile@nd.edu or visit DeBartolo B003 to get started!