“Don’t Waste it” is the name of an app made by a group of students from the AU School of Engineering’s Health Tech program in the course Smartphone Applications. The app won the “Best App” award at the end of the course, proving that students with little or no prior knowledge of app development, can quickly learn how to put their ideas into action via technology.

The idea

The four Health Tech students Kristin Lie Aas, Christiane Nørkjær Svendsen, Rikke Ivang Henriksen and Stella Veronica Schultz Jørgensen agreed that in order to be motivated throughout the process, they wanted to make an app that they would actually want to use themselves. An app that presented a solution to a relevant every-day problem. Also, they wanted the idea to be in line with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. After an extensive brainstorm, they settled on an app that would help combat food waste.

The app

“Don’t Waste it” motivates the user to utilize what is in the fridge so that it will not go to waste. Basically, the user enters the current contents of the fridge in the app, and the app then generates suggestions for recipes based on these ingredients.

Let’s imagine that user A has carrots, mince meat and onions in the fridge, which A then enters into the app. The app then searches through an online API of recipes and generates recipe suggestions based on these ingredients. In this case, it could be spaghetti bolognese or shepherd’s pie. Usually, some of the necessary ingredients will be missing from the fridge and if that is the case, the app generates a shopping list. Hence, if A chooses spaghetti bolognese, the app will generate a shopping list with items such as spaghetti, chopped tomatoes, parmesan cheese, mushrooms etc.

As an added feature, users can store their favorite recipes on a favorites list. Finally, the group has implemented maps for users to see the nearest supermarkets as well as geofencing to notify users when they approach a supermarket.

The Smartphone Applications course

The course is taught by ORBIT Lab’s own Kasper Løvborg Jensen, who is also a Professor (Docent) at AU School of Engineering. During the semester, he takes the students through different stages of app development – from building a basic counting app to more advanced app development using Android’s newest architectural components. The course is an elective course, potentially open to students from other study programs.

Towards the end of the course, all students show off their app projects on SMAP Demo Day. Apps are assessed based on their technical level, use of the Android framework and design of the user experience (UX). Apart from “Best App”, awards are given to “Best video” and “People’s Choice”. This semester 24 groups with a total of 75 students competed.

The win

Although pleased with their app, the group had not expected to win. If anything, they thought they could have a chance in the “Best Video” category, which the app “Jolt” ended up winning. To add to the excitement, just before the announcement of the “Best App”, 10 projects were highlighted for their strengths. As “Don’t Waste it” was not among the highlighted projects, the final glimpse of hope slipped away. So when the turn came and “Don’t Waste it” was announced as “Best App”, the group was genuinely surprised. And hearing the reasoning from the teacher jury, they could see why their app was chosen. The comments they received included well-structured code, a variety of different features, intuitive user interface and the choice of the highly relevant theme for the app; combating food waste.

Reflections on the journey

At the beginning of this semester, the girls had no prior knowledge of or experience with app development. They did have some C# programming skills, which meant they had some understanding of development projects in general. However, they have all been surprised about how many lines of code goes into making a relatively simple app. During the semester, they have gone through various stages of both frustration and success. In times of hardship, they have received help and guidance from ORBIT Lab’s Henrik Bitch Kirk, who is also an Assistant Professor on the course. Now, having completed the course, they are left with a solid understanding of app development which they all hope to use for both upcoming projects and – when the time comes – in their future employment. What has been a real eye-opener to the group is how they have been able to take an idea all the way from concept to execution within a relatively short time frame.

The group has automatically qualified to enter the next round of The Orbies which takes place September 12th. They have yet to decide whether to present their project as a demo, a pitch or a video.

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