University of Arizona student Stephen Ost has created Ufree, a smartphone application expected to launch this summer to help busy students find out when their friends are free, in real-time.
The aim: to enable students to more easily connect with their peers when trying to find general social interaction, as well as planning for group assignments and projects while accommodating everyone's schedules.
How does it work? Students input and sync their existing calendars, if they have repeating schedules, so the app will remember and keep track. They also can create their schedule in the app if they don't already have one. Then, when Ufree users open the app, they can immediately see a list of nearby friends who are available.
"I walk through the union and see students sitting alone. You don't have to be alone if you don't want to be anymore," said Davis Bauer, a marketing student in the Eller College of Management and an intern with Ufree.
The app is especially useful for students who are working on group projects or assignments with other people, Bauer said.
At the moment, Ufree is only accessible through iPhones, but eventually Android users also will be able to use the application.
Ufree abides by the slogan "social freedom."
Ost, a major in the UA department of computer science, and the Ufree team intend for the app to go public in July. For now, they are improving quality, adding features, fixing bugs and solving any problems with the application.
Chief executive officer and founder of Ufree, Ost said he first came up with the idea almost three years ago. The Arizona Center for Innovation, a business incubator operated out of the UA Tech Park, helped him along the way, mentoring him through the process.
Ufree's internship program involves three UA students who receive college credit for their work. The three internships include a social media relations coordinator, a campus communication liaison and a marketing and public relations coordinator.
Said Ost: "Ufree is not only a mobile application, rather the start of a new lifestyle, which allows you to experience the social freedom you desire."