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New App Will Track Wait Times Of Your Favorite Penn State Bars

It’s finally Friday, and you’ve never been more ready to drink away the pain of yet another below-subpar exam grade. Your outfit is flawless, your gang is together, and the night couldn’t be more promising. That is, until, hang on a second…you have to wait over an hour just to get into the first bar? You didn’t think your pregame lasted that long, but apparently you were wrong.

“If only I had known about this earlier,” you wail helplessly. You would have made other plans (or you at least would have been a little more proactive about making them) if you had known you’d be spending half the evening waiting outside.

Luckily, a new app is coming to ensure Penn State students never face this unpleasant surprise again.

“Lines” is an app built to inform members of the Penn State and State College communities of bar line lengths and wait times down to the minute. Users will have the information needed to effectively plan their evenings out at their fingertips thanks to crowd-sensing technology and adaptive algorithms. The app will launch its full version in the next three to five weeks. 

Co-founders Mark Esher-Hagel and Courtney Spencer are Temple grads, but don’t be fooled — through frequent trips to the university and in-depth analysis, they’ve mastered the ins and outs of Penn State nightlife and are ready to help us make the most of our evenings here.

“We made this specifically for Penn State,” Esher-Hagel said. “We knew this was an inconvenience and a problem for students here.”

So how exactly does it work? When a user first enters a line, geolocation tracking technology identifies his/her location and sends a signal through use of a geofence. When the user’s time in line is finished and he/she enters the venue, a second geofence is triggered and exact wait time is recorded in the app.

“Geofencing and similar tracking methods have been used frequently with apps such as Snapchat and Pokémon Go, but it’s never been used in this type of app before,” Esher-Hagel said. “We’re really excited to bring this to Penn State.”

And the best part, especially if you’re on the lazier side: you hardly have to do anything besides download the app.

“What makes our app stand out compared to others is that it really doesn’t require user participation,” Esher-Hagel said. 

You won’t have to upload your location or keep track of wait time yourself because the app does it for you. It’s designed so the user can view wait times immediately after opening up the home screen and even get directions to a favorite bar within three clicks.

Lines helps you track bar line wait times and even find directions to your favorite State College hotspots.
Lines helps you track bar line wait times and even find directions to your favorite State College hotspots.

“We focus a lot on the user experience, and we know that Penn State students generally don’t have a lot of time on their hands. This is why we want to ensure a user experience that is very short and sweet,” Spencer said. “You’re out, you’re pregaming, you’re having a great time with your friends — you don’t want to be sitting around, twiddling your thumbs, trying to mess with an app that’s not convenient.”

The team is also currently working with various State College bars to finalize additional features on the app based on a partnership with that specific bar.

“Our initial goal was always accuracy,” Esher-Hagel said. “That’s something we’re not willing to sacrifice.”

But Esher-Hagel and Spencer hope to expand the premise of the app much further than just bar lines.

“Because we built this app specifically for Penn State, we want to make sure that we provide this service not just for bars, but for anywhere else there might be a line,” Esher-Hagel said. Lines for Chipotle, football games, and ticket sale windows could very well be featured on the app in the near future.

Though the app was specifically built to serve the Penn State community, the Lines team hopes to see the app grow in the coming years.

“We eventually do hope to bring it to cities and sort of do the same thing — initially focus on bars, and then expand to airport lines, restaurants, sporting events, concerts, etc.” Esher-Hagel said.

Want to find out more? Check out Lines’ Instagram page, which features sneak previews of the app every Friday and includes information about promotions and giveaways. 

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About the Author

Claire Fountas

Claire Fountas is the student life editor for Onward State, as well as a junior pursuing a double major in journalism and psychology. She lives in a suburb of Chicago and strongly disagrees with anyone who hates the Cubs or the Blackhawks (so, pretty much anyone at Penn State). You can follow her @ClaireFountas or email her at [email protected]

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