A great platform for students from different majors to come together and create something amazing!

TartanHacks is an annual student hackathon run by ScottyLabs at Carnegie Mellon University. Students are given 24 hours to build or modify software to create something of their choice.


Take a breather, Beaver! Is a Chrome Extension our team created to remind people to take breaks to rest their eyes and mind!



My group mate Rachel Jue and I initially brainstormed out blue sky ideas by using 3 different post-it colours and randomly matching them to create an idea:

  • Topic = lime green
  • Software = light blue-green
  • Hardware = blue
  • Product/Idea = dark blue-green

This exercise allowed us to be very open about our ideas, and helped us think about combining things that we would have never thought would work well together.

We decided that we both really wanted to create something that was tactile, so people can physically interact with our product. A few ideas:

  • Jogging Buddy: A wearable that senses your heartbeat and switches music when it senses that you are losing motivation to run! This will be paired up with a phone application that allows you to input your desired start/end point, distance and intensity and the app will randomize a new route for you to try. These routes will be collected through crowdsourcing from other users' ratings and inputs.
  • Tinder for Traveling: a phone application that helps people match with others according to their travel plans/itinerary, so that travelers can make new and meaningful connections with people who share the same interests as them! This could also include locals who want to meet people from other countries through giving tours!
  • Enhancing Senses: Somehow pair food with music, so that eating becomes a whole new experience that stimulates many senses at once. This could also be paired with smells, touch, temperature control...etc.
  • Stop and Breathe: an application or wearable that softly and non-intrusively reminds people to take breaks from working, or walk around if they have been sitting for too long.

Scaling down

On the day of the hackathon, we decided to scale down our problem space, and picked an idea that was realistic for us as a team to complete. Our team consisted of Rachel Jue (HCI), Samantha Lee (CS), Sijia Zhang (ECE) and myself, and within our team, we were strongest at making web apps using HTML, CSS and Java. With this skill set, we decided to challenge ourselves by creating a Chrome Extension, since none of us has had experience making one before.

I created all the visual content of this project, while helping with the front-end developing. Rachel did most of the front-end developing, while Sijia and Samantha worked together on the back-end. We all collaborated together on a git-hub repository. 

Screen Shot 2017-02-20 at 11.18.57 PM.png

Problem space:

There are a lot of apps that help our generation schedule our time better, and increase productivity, but we felt like there weren't so many that reminded people to take a step back and relax every once in a while.

With this focus, we decided to create a system for offices or just for groups of friends that are studying together. This system would be monitoring the activity on your chrome browser, and remind you to take breaks every x minutes. The reminder would also include a cute randomized suggestion of an activity that they could do. 

Left is an example of what the Chrome Extension set-up pop-up would look like, and on the right is an example of what the activity prompt pop-up would look like.

Left is an example of what the Chrome Extension set-up pop-up would look like, and on the right is an example of what the activity prompt pop-up would look like.

Creating mood buttons for users to pick from. Each of these buttons will lead them to a randomized activity recommendation, represented by a fun little gif of the Breather Beaver.