CSUMB ’15 – Connected Merchant

Version 2

I recently finished mentoring a team at CSUMB for their Capstone project and that reminded me I never found the time for a post on the project in 2015… so here it is.

Cal State University Monterey Bay (wikipedia, website) is one of the newest campuses in the Cal State system.  They are in the old Fort Ord campus, and they were founded in 1994.  Its a beautiful campus, they have a lot of space to grow up and a very ambitious and yet doable master plan.   Most of their student body is from the surrounding communities, and they have a collaboration with local industry and community colleges.  Part of the graduation requirement is a Capstone project.  I had met some CSUMB students through YHacks in Fall ’14, through them I met Prof Sathya Narayanan and later I signed as a mentor.

The team for the 2015 Capstone project was

  • Will Adams
  • Amit Panchal
  • Nelson Lee
  • Will McCabe

Here is the obligatory selfie, with the team L-to-R:

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The project was a Connected Merchant.  Here is its Project page from the ’15 Capstone Festival Website; the poster has a good job of describing the project and the technologies:

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The set up for the project was a Resort Town with Merchants that cater mostly to Visitors mostly arriving during summer or other vacation intervals.  We sketched a solution that would be administered by The City and would benefit both Merchants and Visitors and would be part of a package that a City would offer to its registered Merchants.  The combined solution would include IOT sensors, mobile Apps for Visitors and Merchants and server-side services managed by the City.

The Merchant stores would be instrumented with beacons (iBeacon or Eddystone).  These sensors provide a Bluetooth Low Energy signal at regular intervals that can be detected by smartphones and can then be used to provide indoor location.

The Visitor mobile app is used by visitors when they arrive to the town and can provide information on the events, navigation within the town, using GPS and beacons, a list of Merchants, and navigation within a store using the beacons. The Visitor app also supports communication with the Merchant and with the City Administrator.

The Merchant app is used to get information on foot traffic and other analytics.  It can also be used to communicate with the Visitors and the City Administrator.  And can be used to provide information on sales and other material of interest to the visitors.

The City Manager Dashboard is used to manage the content for the Merchant, to talk with the Merchants and the Visitors, and to update city content like events, etc.

For this project we used a combination of technologies, reflecting the state of the different Progress projects

  • The main visitor app was a NativeScript app.  This was a pre-1.0 version of NativeScript (see roadmap) but still worked well enough.
  • The merchant app was also written in NativeScript.
  • The city dashboard was written as a web app.
  • Content was kept using the Telerik Platform BackEnd Services.
  • Node.js, on Modulus, was used to provide real-time chats with the two mobile apps and with the Web app using websockets.
  • Beacons were detected using a mobile app.  We had to use a Hybrid app since at this point NativeScript didn’t support this.

A very successful project.  Many congratulations to Nelson, Amit, Will and Will, and thanks to Sathya for driving this program forward.

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