The clicking of computer keys fills the otherwise soundless room as senior Calvin Chestnut and his friends work on an application. As the data for the app slowly uploads onto an iPhone, the group tries to create a compelling logo.
An English major with a passion for computer science, which is his minor, Chestnut channels his love for technology through advancements that some people have only imagined. His newest endeavor, My Homework, an application for Google Glass, allows users to keep up to date with homework due, upcoming exams and daily tasks, all with a finger swipe across the screen or a simple question.
“I can use my syllabus at the beginning of the semester or just enter them as I get them,” he said. “Anytime, I can just say, ‘OK Glass, what’s due this week?’ … it shows me the due date and time.”
Chestnut worked with the Glass programming 12 hours a day for two weeks during winter break to create My Homework. Tired and relieved from working so diligently on his app and finally completing it, Chestnut said, he posted it to Google Plus on Jan. 31 so it could reach Glass Explorers, the community of Google Glass users. He said he expected to be done with the app for the time being. However, a group of Glass Explorers showed interest in his work and gave him positive feedback, he said.
The app recently gained popularity after an article about Chestnut’s app was posted on googleglassfans.com Feb. 25. Chestnut said his app currently has 15 users nationwide, which is more than he expected to see so soon after creating it.
Bryan Roberts, associate dean of the Roy H. Park School of Communications, said he is a strong believer in the advancement of wearable technology, and Chestnut’s new app is genius in its simplicity. In a recent post on his blog “Stepping Forward,” he wrote about Chestnut’s app being useful for medical needs, not just daily assignments.
“So your neurologist uploads all your medications to this website, similar to what Calvin has done, and then it reminds you on your Glass, ‘OK, time to take your medicine now,’ and the number of dosages and things like that,” Roberts said.
Roberts said he noticed Chestnut walking through the Park School wearing his Google Glass while Roberts was also wearing his, and they talked to each other about this relatively new technology. Roberts said he told Chestnut about his Google Glass committee, which meets on Monday nights and consists of faculty members mostly from the Park School.
One of the members of Roberts’ committee, Michael Buck, clinical associate professor from the physical therapy department, said Roberts gradually gathered members based on those who had Google Glass or simply an interest in the product. Buck said the committee meets once a month to explore Google Glass and to share ideas on how to apply it to education.
Roberts said he has high hopes for Google Glass and its ability to enhance learning and teaching on campus.
“We’re all just curious to see what we can do with the technology and how we can make IC a leader in really bleeding edge technology,” he said.
Chestnut said he chose to create an app for Google Glass because he believes it is an interesting new product to work with.
Unfortunately, an app store for Google Glass has yet to be created; the closest thing is an app called MyGlass, which shows the Glass applications users can download. However, without a main outlet for all of the newly created apps, Calvin said advertising his app further would be a challenge.
“[Advertising] is all word of mouth,” he said. “It’s all people sharing it on Facebook or on Google Plus, or seeing it.”
With the 1.0 version of the app launching about four weeks ago, Chestnut said he plans to fix the app’s minor bugs and add a few new features as time progresses. His website, myhomework4glass.com, includes a description of the app’s abilities and a step-by-step installation process.
“I started making it a bit prettier, making it work a little easier, putting instructions on how to install it, because it’s not an easy process,” he said.
The app is not the only thing on Chestnut’s mind though. A typical day for him includes meetings, classes, interviews for his technology projects, working an hour or two at the fixIT shop and, finally, homework.
In addition to My Homework, Chestnut is also currently working on an iPhone app called Coast, which helps a person keep track of his or her car’s maintenance. When the device with the app is connected, it gives the user an accurate reading of how much longer the car has until that maintenance requirement becomes a priority. One of the goals for the app is to make sure that people are not paying for unnecessary oil changes simply because their local gas station tells them it is time, Chestnut said.
Coast won first place in the Ithaca College App Idea Competition in 2013. Chestnut said he’s been working on Coast since Fall 2013 as a part of multiple classes.
Doug Turnbull, assistant professor of the computer science department, was Chestnut’s professor for Advanced Web Development and is also currently Chestnut’s minor adviser. Turnbull said he sees potential in Chestnut’s future. He also said he has always known Chestnut to be a naturally curious student, and the only thing that has changed since he first met him during the App Idea Competition is his ability to create apps with the experience he has gained from his computer science courses.
“It’s the people who don’t spend the time tinkering and don’t spend the time exploring that aren’t going to do much,” Turnbull said. “They’re going to consume but not create, and that’s a fundamental difference between Calvin and most students that I encounter.”