Five sophomores are trying to change the world, one app at a time.
Austin Louden, Luke Walsh, Jack Hammons, Grant Gumina and Michael Pak are all sophomores in computer engineering, except for Louden who’s a computer science major, who created the “anti-social” social media app, Moments.
Moments is Hammons’ “brainchild.” On their way to a hackathon, the group started throwing around various ideas. Then, Hammons came up with the philosophy behind Moments.
The app is “anti-social” in the sense that you can’t choose the content you see. Instead, a picture is taken with the app and that picture can only be viewed if someone travels through the location of where the photo took place.
Eventually, the photo will fade away after a certain number of views.
“Lots of social networks just show you who you choose to see,” Hammons said. “(Moments) adds meaning to the content you’re seeing.”
Louden was the lead programmer of the team and coded the iOS version with Walsh assisting him. Pak developed the Android version of the app. Gumina helped build the product website and brought the “dream team” together.
Walsh described the group’s motivation as one against apps that suck the user from reality. The plight is common among college students, particularly the one person at the party stuck to their iPhone on the couch.
“We wanted it to be something that you used that didn’t consume a large part of you,” Walsh said. “We’re kind of bitter against apps that suck people out of the real world.”
The five got together and took a trip to the University of Michigan to participate in MHacks 2013 hackathon for Feb. 1, 2 and 3. When teams of computer programmers and graphic and interface designers come together for a short amount of time to create a software or program, that’s a hackathon.
For example, the scene in “the Social Network” where Mark Zuckerberg has students code as fast as they can while taking shots every hour was a hackathon. MHacks is like that, minus the alcohol and plus lots of energy drinks.
This particular hackathon took place over a weekend, and teams had 36 hours to create whatever “hack” or creation they could think of.
Before the group began coding, they came up with five or six words to come back to when they were making decisions about the app. Some of them were minimalism, intrinsic and pensive.
Although the philosophy is not new, the group is made up of those who are tech-savvy but also have a basis in the arts. They wanted to combine the meaning of the app with the actual creation.
The group placed 10th in the competition. They were coding up until the last moment before their demo went live.
“We were literally changing the build we were using for the demo right up until the demo started, like two minutes before,” Louden said as the group laughed.
Although the app is in its first stages, the group hopes to get it out to the public as soon as possible. You can sign up to be notified when the app launches at getmoments.co.