For the last few months, Greg Wilson and I worked nights and weekends on a little side project that we called Proxxi. The idea of Proxxi came from personal experiences, being in situations where we wished there was an easy way to communicate with people around us. For example:
- Is there anybody at the Marriott up for a 7:30am run tomorrow?
- Is there anybody on this Eurostar who can lend me a US to UK adapter?
- What’s the guest WIFI password at Logan airport?
- Got a snow blower. Let me know if you need help digging out this morning.
There is a big difference between building demo and production apps, and Proxxi was also the opportunity for us to go deeper with some products, libraries, and services like Cordova, Node.js, MongoDB, and several cloud services.
What is Proxxi?
Proxxi is an app that connects you with people and things around you, wherever you are. Instead of “following people”, you “follow your location” and you automatically become a member of the ad hoc community made of people near you. You see what’s happening around you and you can actively participate in this proximity-based community. Your location is never shared unless you explicitly choose to share it, so your privacy is protected.
Proxxi lets you communicate with other users either publicly by commenting on a post, or privately using a safe, anonymous email relay service. When using the private email option, Proxxi assigns temporary email addresses to let you exchange emails with other users using your normal email app, but without revealing your real email address.
Here are some other examples of messages people could post on Proxxi:
- Will pay $50 to swap my middle seat for an aisle seat on UA433.
- How’s traffic on I95 south?
- Anybody up for a drink at Terminal B?
- Will remove snow from your driveway this AM for $40.
- Huge garage sale at 10am tomorrow.
- The Buckhorn Elementary school bus is running 15min late this morning.
- Selling Chemistry II book 3rd edition. Will be in student union until 2pm.
- Looking for study group for Mr. Wilson’s Calc IV class.
- Looking for tickets for tonight’s game.
The mobile app was built with Cordova, Backbone.js, RequireJS, and Topcoat. At the server side, we used, Node.js, Express, and MongoDB running on EC2. We also use S3 and CloudFront for the photo sharing part of the application.
Here is a high-level architecture diagram.
Chicken and Egg
Apps like Proxxi are only as good as the information users share, the questions they ask, the answers they get, etc. So there is definitely a chicken and egg challenge at launch. So, if you think this application can be useful and fun, we count on you to start sharing!