Researchers at Tuskegee University look to bring dynamic electronic maps to campus
7.25.2016 / By Adrian D. Parker, Sr.
Let’s face it. Mobile devices have taken over the world. According to information gathered at the University of Alabama this year, 91% percent of the adult population in the United States owns a cell phone, of which 61% are smartphones. These numbers don’t take into account the smartphones in the hands of teenagers, or the booming growth of tablets. And that’s just the United States. The immense number of mobile devices has created a growing demand for more mobile applications.
Colleges and universities have historically been slow to embrace technological advances. Many still do not have mobile-specific websites, and even fewer develop their sites in house. Tuskegee University looks to be one of the exceptions. There, a research team led by Asif Baba is in the process of developing a dynamic electronic map (e-map) app called Tigermap to enhance the experience of navigating campus.
The app offers several layout options, tutorials for new users, and a function that allows users to provide feedback via a web-based survey. Written in Java and built on the Android Development Tools extension of Android Eclipse, Tigermap draws on Google Maps for location services. User coordinates collected from Google Maps are paired with building coordinates from an embedded campus map to provide navigation capabilities. An Android app called Mobizen is coupled with YouTube to create and upload the video tutorials.
So far, the team has tested the app on the Motorola Moto X, the Samsung Galaxy Tab 2, and the Samsung Galaxy Tab 4. Although all the essential features are functional, Baba and his colleagues look to boost the app’s ability to work in environments with poor connectivity, provide a full screen format for the tutorial videos, and expand the range of compatible devices and operating systems.
While HBCU-developed apps like Tigermap are still relatively rare, apps created by HBCU alumni are increasingly common. In 2010, Spelman College alumnae Jonecia Keels and Jazmine Miller developed the HBCU Buddy app, a clearinghouse for information about academics, admissions, and social media at HBCUs nationwide. That app won the 2010 AT&T Big Mobile on Campus Challenge, a competition whose previous winners hailed from Harvard and Stanford.
Other apps developed by HBCU alumnae include Grover Field’s HBCUIn, Carlos Henry Lawton’s Make the Number, and Khali Gallman’s Not Just Spring Break, all developed at Florida A&M University. HBCUIn gives detailed university information, Not Just Spring Break focuses on networking opportunities and vacation events, and Make the Number is a math puzzle app intended to increase mental sharpness.
From Tallahassee to Tuskegee and beyond, HBCU programmers are showing that you don’t always have to go to Silicon Valley to find the next big thing in mobile apps.
Adrian D. Parker, Sr. is a graduate student in Computer and Information Systems Engineering at Tennessee State University and a 2016 HBSciU Fellow.
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