New Apps for the Intolerant, Autistic, and Musically Illiterate
Millions of dollars were thrown around in the dragon’s den of Castle 1 Lecture theatre during the APPSTAR Showdown on Wednesday September 26. The event was the final stage of a competition in which entrants came up with an idea for a smartphone app to be developed by Otago Innovation Ltd.
The people behind the top five ideas out of the original 108 entries each had five minutes to present their idea before being grilled by the panel of eight knowledgeable judges, including Vice-Chancellor Harlene Hayne.
The winner was “Read, See, Sing” by Judy Bellingham from the Department of Music. Her app would teach people to sight-sing. Bellingham’s idea was inspired by her passion for music, and the noticeably decreasing number of students coming out of school with the ability to read music.
“We all have the ability to sing,” Bellingham told the audience. Critic’s karaoke nights at Vivace cast serious doubt on the truth of this statement, but with her prize of up to $20,000 to have her app idea developed and monetised by Otago Innovation, along with a share in the profits, we could well be proved wrong.
The winner of the People’s Choice award and the prize of a new iPad was postgraduate exchange student Xavier Vanwelde. His app “Intollerapp” is designed to facilitate supermarket shopping for people suffering from the growing trend of food intolerances. Barcode recognition of products would identify ingredients, and the app would inform people whether they were intolerant of the product, and if so, suggest alternative products.
Another finalist was iPos, an app to enable people suffering from dementia to identify their location, and to help them achieve tasks supporting independent living. Another app, Autism iSchedule, was designed to encourage physical activity in Autistic children. Rounding out the five finalists was Neurosense, an app designed to support the studies of biology and health science.
With over 2500 apps uploaded to the iPhone’s app store each day, one of the criteria for the top five apps was that they had to stand out from the rest, particularly as Otago Innovation aims to charge $30 per download for each of the apps they choose to develop. The applicants, who included University of Otago academic and research staff as well as students, were encouraged to make use of specialty research conducted by the Uni.