Carmmunity: Exotics (HackPoly 2016)
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Carmmunity: Exotics (HackPoly 2016)

Carmmunity: Exotics (HackPoly 2016)

  • Car manufacturer selection on Pebble Watch
  • Car model selection on Pebble Watch
  • Car pin information using Esri API


Published: February 14, 2016 8 0 4.2K
By: Byron Phung, Cal Poly Pomona
Category: Software
Hashtags: #Ajax #Android #AndroidApp #ArcGIS #Coding #ESRI #Google #GoogleSheets #hackathons #hackpoly #JAVA #Javascript #MobileAppDevelopment #PebbleWatch #Platform #Product #Software #wearables

* Winner of Esri's sponsor prize for Best use of Esri API at HackPoly 2016
* 3rd Place in Competitive Spirit Challenge Sponsored by Portfolium

The world of car spotting is huge, and a great amount of those who participate in this exciting hobby earn significant rewards from their video blogs and photography. We created a platform that allows this global community of car spotters to more easily & conveniently share content with each other and to enable other aspiring car spotters to join in on the fun & action.

To provide a working proof-of-concept within a 24-hour competition time span, our team decided to focus on one of the most popular fields of car spotting: exotic cars. Through simple selections of a make & model using a custom Pebble Watchapp or Android application, car spotters can easily pin the car information along with their current coordinates to a custom map provided through the Esri API.


Having never worked on the Pebble Smartwatch before, I took on the primary task of connecting a Pebble Smartwatch to our system that synchronizes with a custom Esri feature service and an Android application. I created our unique Pebble Watchapp to allow users to directly record manufacturers and/or models (if applicable) of cars spotted by utilizing Pebble.js, which is currently a beta Pebble SDK that allows developers to develop Pebble applications completely in JavaScript instead of the native C-language environment. In addition to the interface, I spent the bulk of my time constructing the proper, back-end AJAX call to perform a HTTP request and post geometric & car information to our custom Esri feature service through the ArcGIS REST API.

With my team members wanting to purely focus on their Android development and Esri API implementation, I naturally found myself filling in the role as team & product manager. Having had prior experience in Android, I mentored and provided guidance to our Android developer in addition to distributing the workload & managing our available resources. Eventually, my management contributions came down to organizing our team of 3 and leading the efforts to seamlessly integrate our individual components and produce a working product. Once the hacking period ended, I was the primary spokesperson of our team who pitched our hack to multiple judges during exhibition, which included JPL's Chief Technology Officer Tom Soderstrom, Northrop Grumman recruiters, and Esri GeoDev representatives just to name a few. Eventually, our team proudly won Esri's sponsor prize for "Best use of Esri API" during the final award ceremony.

Being completely new to Android development, our Android developer faced an abundance of roadblocks during development. Having had my own prior experience in Android, I found a balance in both mentoring and letting him simply learn-by-doing, which is Cal Poly Pomona's famous motto. In addition, our entire team was new to the Esri API, so familiarizing ourselves with the necessary components proved to be quite a challenge, especially within the Android application. Likewise, no one had developed for the Pebble Smartwatch before and having used Pebble's latest beta SDK called Pebble.js, which is a new framework that allows development completely in JavaScript instead of the native C environment, I had to explore a variety of approaches to integrate JavaScript components that aren't supported in the Pebble environment but are usually supported by the native language.

As major hobbyists in car spotting, our team unanimously agreed that we'd love to continue developing this "hack" into a global product. Due to legal concerns with already-existing names of "Carmmunity", we've decided to change our name to "Cars and Spotters" as a play on the words like "Cars and Coffee". In addition, we see our works growing into a community of communities - a platform where it isn't just exotic cars and car spotters of all genres, such as JDM, Japanese, German, etc. can share their passions and works with the world. We are also working on additional features, such as providing heatmaps, which would provide historical perspectives on potential "hotspots", or integrating artificial intelligence, which would allow automatic tagging using image and voice recognition.

We're focusing on the niche of providing content. Car spotters are artists in a sense that they have the freedom to portray their content in whichever manner fits them the most. However, how will they get the content itself? This is where Cars and Spotters will come in. As car spotter hobbyists ourselves, our mission is to enable ourselves so that we can enable others. By providing better and more convenient access to statistical & historical data, which is shared & crowd-sourced by the community of car spotters, car spotters can more efficiently plan their next spotting trip, producing more content and reducing the time wasted trying on finding the content itself.

To see our original HackPoly submission, please visit

Tagged Teammates:

  • Christopher Lobue
  • Salman Hasib


Michael Wilkes Dean Infotech Xiao Hong Chen Steven Si Kristin Agcaoili Royce Rowan Tara Gillette Dehwei Hsu