Hungry (for food or intellectual stimulation)? Get DukeMobile!

August 26, 2009

Duke's suite of mobile apps adds information on campus dining and Duke Libraries holdings, DukeCard functionality

You can now use your iPhone to point you toward lunch, thanks in part to work by Michael Ansel, a junior majoring in Electrical & Computer Engineering and Computer Science.

This summer, Ansel worked on the team developing the data feed for a DukeMobile application that lists campus eateries and hours of operation, uses GPS and WiFi to pinpoint locations on the interactive map, and links to Duke Dining Services for more information. This first iteration of this app, called "Places," is based on a Web application Ansel built for personal use.

"Last spring, I got tired of looking up the hours of operation of all the places to eat on campus every time I was hungry," Ansel explained, "so I built a Web app to display the hours for my favorite locations. In investigating how to pull in data automatically from Dining Services, I discovered that the DukeMobile team was looking to build a system similar to mine, and they invited me to work with them to build the data feed to support the DukeMobile app."

The Places app also allows you to compare your location with those of events on the Events@Duke and buzz calendars, and display nearby events using virtual pushpins on the online map. In the months to come, the app will help users locate a growing list of events and services on campus.

This new version of DukeMobile opens up the Duke Libraries to mobile users, as well. With version 1.3, you'll be able to use your mobile device to search through the Duke Libraries catalog and contact a librarian directly for additional information.

"The Duke Libraries know that faculty and students conduct their research from many different places," said Lynne O'Brien, director of Academic Technology & Instructional Services, "and the new catalog search tool allows users to find outstanding scholarly resources and connect with information specialists at their convenience."

Managing your DukeCard accounts becomes even easier with DukeMobile 1.3, too, since you will be able to check your DukeCard balances, add funds to your accounts, review recent transactions and suspend a lost or stolen card.

"The DukeCard Office has always looked for opportunities to expand our relationships with our customers beyond traditional over-the-counter transactions," says Matt Drummond, director, DukeCard Office. "Students today rely more on mobile technology to manage their lives, so we see DukeMobile as a great way for students on the go to manage their DukeCard accounts. Students in the cafeteria can use DukeMobile to check their DukeCard balances, add funds to their accounts and then pay for dinner without getting out of line."

Ansel feels that students are the best people to ask for feedback on existing functionality or inspiration for new apps.

"While I designed my Web app to scratch my own itch initially, I shared the system with friends and shaped it based on their feedback. New students arrive on campus every year—all of them filled with curiousity about life on campus, and most of them carrying some kind of mobile device. They are a fantastic source of new ideas or additions to Duke's mobile application suite."

To learn how to get DukeMobile on your iPhone, iPod touch or other mobile device, visit the DukeMobile page on the OIT site.