In my Software Design class, the second half of the semester is devoted to a team project (I briefly mentioned it in my last post). Olin emphasizes incremental development; the idea is to always have a working program, rather than building out separate pieces and planning on tying them together at the end (you can read more about it in Professor Allen Downey's textbook). With about a month left to finish, my team recently completed our first working prototype (of any usefulness).
So what is Pricecod? Our objective is to have an easily accessible way to quickly tell if an item a user sees in a store would be cheaper to buy online. Mobile applications - both native and web apps - are intriguing (and the hot area to work in) but we're frustrated that most commercial applications require an expensive smart phone and/or a data plan. As such, we're aiming to achieve our objective by building an application that, when users send a picture of a barcode from their cell phones, will text message them back with the cheapest prices and locations of that item online. (We know this app already exists - we're doing it to learn, jeez) If users don't have a camera on their cell phone, they could also send us the barcode number.
We don't exactly have all this working yet. We do have a start though: if you email email@example.com with a barcode number in the subject line, the Pricecod fish will (probably) email you back. No promises on the quality of the e-mail; it's a work in progress. There's a lot of pieces to tie together for our ideal app to work - we've been busy learning about OCR, SMS & SMTP protocol, and APIs for shopping sites like Amazon and Google Products. In the meantime, I'd really appreciate if you want to be one of Pricecod's first beta testers. Just email firstname.lastname@example.org (there's a barcode somewhere near you, I know it. Check the bottom of your kleenex box) and then let me know what you think. Thanks! -Maia Bittner