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This PennApps Project Will Send You a Text Every Time a Door Opens on Campus


In 1946, researchers at Penn’s Moore School of Electrical Engineering developed ENIAC, the world’s first general-purpose digital computer. The milestone is hailed as the beginning of the global computer revolution.

Now, in 2017, a team of four Penn students at PennApps are continuing the University’s pattern of innovation in computing by developing an app which sends its users a text every time a door opens on Penn's campus.

“I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard about someone going through a door on campus and thought, ‘I wish I knew about that earlier,’” said project leader Johnny Wang. “The app is an incredible synergy of optimization, cloud-based machine-learning, funneling top-down inside-out conversion algorithms, and sixty other buzzwords.”

Team member Robert Dobson says the building process was not easy. “We had to grapple with big questions about ourselves, the world, and life itself. Stuff like, what is a door? Is a window just a smaller, vertically-sliding door? And what does ‘open’ really mean? Is a door left ajar open forever? You can’t code that.”

Despite the difficulties, the team arrived at a finished product and are expected to come in second at the competition. A background source tells us Google and Apple were working on similar projects, but have now had to scrap their progress.

Wang says he's already thinking about his next venture: a cellphone which calls the user's parents whenever someone, anywhere, orders a Hawaiian pizza.