Student-designed apps win funding
Joshua Hall ’14 was playing cards at a party when he was struck with the inspiration for an app. Using Bluetooth technology, smart phones placed together on a table could create a digital platform for classic party games. Hall and Kalon Stephen ’14 have created a prototype for spin the bottle and hope to expand to include Cards Against Humanity, regular playing cards and original games.

Their new app, Tether Gaming, is one of eight winning proposals that will receive a grant, technical expertise, development space and design assistance from the Neukom Digital Arts Leadership and Innovation Lab as part of The Pitch competition. The apps provide technological solutions to problems that range from finding spring term housing to curing a worldwide epidemic. Over 30 groups composed of faculty, undergraduate and graduate students presented their proposals to seven judges and an audience in Loew Auditorium on Jan. 14. The nine winning proposals included an art marketplace that doubles as a fundraising platform and a physics word game. Competition judge Jamie Coughlin, who directs new venture incubator programs, described the structure of the competition as “speed dating for pitching ideas.” Each group had two minutes to sell its concept. Coughlin said that he was impressed by the diversity of participants and ideas presented to the panel, which consisted of faculty from the computer science and engineering departments as well as administrators involved in various entrepreneurship initiatives on campus. One proposal, @Now, would create a cloud calendar accessible to any Dartmouth student to schedule events. Developer Odon Orzsik ’17 said that the concept stemmed from his frustration in receiving Listserv emails that advertise campus-wide events — even during his winter interim in Slovakia. “It’s a smartphone app where people can schedule any event by anybody for everybody,” he said. The judges suggested merging @Now with Tribe, a mobile app that aims to use the Google Maps location feature to link up users based on their whereabouts. Combined, the two programs would allow for members of the Dartmouth community to connect and make plans, regardless of where they are in the world. The team, consisting of one developer and three programmers, said it hopes to release the app in early fall 2014. Gurkaran Singh ’15 said he was inspired to create Tribe when, over winter interim, he was stuck in an airport and knew other Dartmouth students were in the same situation but had no way to connect with them. “I’m confident that on the college campus level, our joint collaboration will be successful because there is a need for this,” Orzsik said. He said the thinks the app has the potential to change how students schedule events and interact, not only at Dartmouth but at other universities. The project will require further development, Singh said. “We’re ambitious, but careful not to set our dreams too high yet,” he said. Along with Phillip Coletti '14, Delos Chang ’14 proposed HousingCake, a search service that emails housing options to users based on their reported preferences. He said the idea came from his reluctance to use sites like Airbnb or Craigslist to find off-term housing, as he found searching through their results tedious. After working on the project for less than two months, Chang said he now has over 100 paying users. He said he was surprised at the level of support he has received. “I am very grateful and humbled by how much Dartmouth has supported me in this venture,” Chang said. “It’s pretty crazy that the DALI Lab was willing to fund me without any equity.” Coughlin directs the Innovation Center and New Venture Incubator, an entrepreneurship hub proposed by College President Phil Hanlon in his inaugural address and slated to open at 4 Currier Place later this term. Correction appended Jan. 29 Due to an editing error, the original version of this article mischaracterized how Delos Chang '14 viewed sites such as Airbnb and Craigslist. He said he found using these sites tedious, not that they were untrustworthy. The initial version of this article also neglected to mention that Phillip Coletti '14 was involved in the development of HousingCake.  
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