Coming in as a freshman last fall, there was quite a lot to get used to: sharing a dorm with a roommate, climbing four flights of stairs to get to said dorm and forcing myself to be “face-timey” rather than hiding in my room watching Netflix, to name a few. However, one of the more overwhelming changes was that of college dining–no longer could I just walk to the kitchen and devour food straight out of the fridge whenever my stomach demanded it. Instead, I was on a “plan” (a word I had rarely ever associated with food before).
One of the first lifestyle changes I made was downloading the Dining@Dartmouth app, invented by Matt Harding ’13. D@D linked to students’ ManageMyID accounts and transferred info about their remaining meal swipes and DBA directly to their phones. It also offered information on spending habits and dining hall hours. Unfortunately, as I learned very quickly, this app was unreliable and often failed to function.
Picking up on this need for dining simplification during a user experience project in her freshman year ENGS 12 class, Gaby Javitt ’16 began to devise what is now Dartmouth’s newest dining mobile app, theRopes. Though inspired by D@D, she wished to take her app even further.
“I wanted to make something that was more of a concierge-like experience,” Gaby says. “I was focused on spending less time wandering around and finding short lines in the dining halls, and on finding food options that were good rather than just easy to get.”
Since freshman year, she has acquired a business partner, Gabe Boning, who has helped her build and design the app. TheRopes was physically programmed by two professional iOS software programmers and aided with resources from Dartmouth’s Digital Arts Leadership and Innovation (DALI) lab.
TheRopes Version 1.0, released last year on the iTunes app store through Gaby’s company, Square Knot Industries, currently offers its 894 active users a reliable way to check their remaining swipes and DBA, as well as personalized spending analysis. It also allows users to see what’s on the menu at each dining hall, filtered by dietary restrictions and to rate certain foods with a like or a dislike. Users can also see other students’ ratings, allowing them to navigate options with more ease.
“I feel like I spend so much time figuring out when and where and what I should be eating,” Gaby explains. “There’s often a right answer about how much DBA I should spend each day, and about what I should be eating to improve my health.”
When asked about the future of the app, Gaby mentions that she and Gabe are working on a few enhancements. These include helping students budget and optimize their meal plan, notifying students when their favorite foods are back on the menu (Gaby’s personal preferences include FoCo’s mushroom risotto cakes and General Tso’s chicken) and crowd sourcing or rating for food quality.