Mobile Apps to Help People in Unsafe Situations & Protect Private Information Win Top Prizes in App-E-Feat Contest

25 June 2014

An application to help people in an unsafe or confrontational situation and one to keep an Android phone clean and optimized have won the top prizes in the App-E-Feat mobile app development contest sponsored by IEEE-USA.

The winners will each receive an Apple iPad Air and the opportunity to work with an IEEE mentor to help them develop their technology skills. Contestants fell into two categories: 13-to-17-years-old and 18-and-over.

"Helping Hands," submitted by Austin Rawlins, 13, of Jasper, Ind., won the top prize in the 13-17-year-old category. It is designed to store emergency contact information and to send an "I need help" message and location information to those contacts when trouble arises.

Rawlins conceived the app - which has been developed - after he and his mother were stranded on the side of a road for eight hours, didn't know exactly where they were and had spotty cell phone reception. He said they didn't call 911 because, "We did not feel we were in enough danger to call."

"Clean Droid," developed by Jude John Tony of Kochi, Kerala, India, took first place in the 18-and-over category. It is designed to help Android phone owners optimize the care of their phones, save space and help boost performance and speed. It strives to protect owners' private information by daily auto cleaning of such things as browser and search history, cache, chat records and temporary data on sites like Facebook, WhatsApp, WeChat and Instagram.

"MobiLearn," by Jeremy Nathan of Ashburn, Va., won second place in the 13-17 category. This app, when developed, will allow teachers and students who have difficulty meeting in a physical location to connect by mobile phone with classes, assignments, notes and grades easily accessible.

"Diabreathometer," by Kavya Kopparapu, 13, of Herndon, Va., won third place. This app, when developed, will be able to diagnose diabetes and alert sufferers when to take insulin.

In the 18+ category, "Cartwheels" by Jack Cahn of New York, Benjamin Attal of Brooklyn, N.Y., and two others took second place. It provides health information on urban mobile food vendors and allows patrons to see menus and rate food.

Third place went to "Tour-De-City" by David Cahn, Victoria Greene and Sweyn Venderbush, all of New York, and Severyn Kozak of Ridgewood, N.Y. This app helps reduce pollution by designing biking, walking or public transportation tours of Boston and New York City.

A $250 Amazon gift card will go to second-place finishers; third-place contestants will receive a $150 Amazon gift card.

Contestants in the 13-17-year-old category were judged on a description of their app. Those 18 and older were judged on how well they wrote the actual app code.

"I was quite impressed with the quality of submissions," said Aqeel Zaman, CEO and founder of Flynxx and one of the judges. "Most astounding was the age of some of the participants. The ability for them to understand global challenges, contextualize it and yet come up with simple, intuitive solutions to what might be daunting problems was electrifying."

The App-E-Feat contest, which launched during U.S. Engineers Week on 18 February and closed on 19 May, was designed to encourage people to use mobile apps to help solve a local or global problem and positively impact people's lives.

The contest was part of a greater initiative IEEE is sponsoring to match members with nonprofits around the world to develop apps for the advancement of humanity. It is IEEE's contribution to the Clinton Global Initiative, which "convenes global leaders to create and implement innovative solutions to the world's most pressing challenges."

IEEE-USA serves the public good and promotes the careers and public policy interests of more than 200,000 engineering, computing and technology professionals who are U.S. members of IEEE.