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Cal Poly students create app for fish bowls

A graphic of four iPhones laying side by side, displaying screens that say things like "Fish Bowl" and "Reserve a Space."

Some of the best ideas are born under pressure.

That’s certainly true with Cal Poly 24-hour Hackathon participants Jack Maize, Ali Albiani and Kevin DeBoer, who won an award for best library app. Jack, Ali and Kevin are the minds behind the app concept Fish Bowl, which allows users to reserve Kennedy Library’s fish bowls, the collaborative study rooms on the second floor.

“We basically started off thinking of things that could be better for school,” Jack said.

The three graphic design students met the night before the Hackathon to discuss app ideas. Ali’s sorority meets frequently in the fish bowls, and thought the current system, requesting space by e-mail, could be improved. She proposed creating an app to automate fish bowl reservation, and together that’s what they decided to do.

As part of their process, the team spoke with PolyConnect employees to understand how fish bowl scheduling works, and then designed Fish Bowl so that no one is required to answer e-mail requests and enter the schedule by hand.

“It’s one less thing they (staff) would have to do,” Ali said. The app would allow students to see which rooms are open by date and time, as well as book a room and upload study notes to the meeting info.

Jack, Ali and Kevin stand side by side in front of "Evernote" logo.

From left to right, Jack, Ali and Kevin worked as a team for 24 hours to create the Fish Bowl app concept.

Though the app is not finished, the team received positive feedback from Evernote, the company that sponsored the Hackathon. Now, the three are planning to find a computer engineer to make Fish Bowl a reality.

It would not only fill a need at Cal Poly, but could be used at other universities as well as businesses, Kevin said.

See more on Fish Bowl’s progress on Hacker League.

You can see Ali’s work in her portfolio and Jack’s work in his portfolio.