Imagine a world where everyone, from students to small business owners, can create their own app without technical knowledge. A team at the MIT Media Lab Center for Mobile Learning is working to make this a reality with its AppInventor project. Now, with the help of Verizon Wireless, they are working on adding near-field communications (NFC) capabilities to their platform.
AppInventor uses a drag-and-drop browser-based development environment to create new Android apps. In Alabama, high school students developed what became an award-winning app, Wild Hog Tracker, intended to track wild hog sightings. The data collected will aid scientists in understanding the problem of invasive feral hogs.
In Haiti, humanitarian aid workers also needed a solution for tracking data. The Haiti Commodity app and Haiti Rain Check app monitor commodity prices and record rainfall data, collected from across Haiti. This helps local officials make informed decisions about food and supply distribution and monitor drought and flood conditions in order to plan assistance for farmers and others in need.
The incorporation of NFC capabilities in AppInventor opens up new opportunities. The head of the project, MIT professor Hal Abelson, noted that he’s “especially interested in seeing the NFC-enabled apps kids and teachers will create for education, for games and for fun.”
Both the MIT Media Lab Center for Mobile Learning and Verizon Wireless will be hosting NFC development events this month throughout the country. At “TAPPED: The NFC Accelerator” events, developers will be challenged to build NFC apps incorporating social media, gaming and more. They will have access to experts from Verizon and MIT as well as the AppInventor tool to help build innovative apps that push the boundaries of NFC capabilities.