Pace Freshmen Place Fourth in Mobile Challenge
Much to their surprise and satisfaction, Peter Franceschini (BS/CS) and John Robb (BA/Comm/Art) placed fourth in the University Mobile Challenge for their mobile app CANDOO. The event was held in Barcelona, Spain in early March. This achievement allows them to advance to the GSMA Mobile Health University Challenge scheduled for late May in Cape Town, South Africa.
CANDOO is a mobile app developed for the Android Tablet that enables senior citizens and others, who may find traditional computer screens difficult to see or navigate, to use a tablet computer with ease. Once the tablet is on, users are taken directly to the CANDOO homepage where they can access an array of features by touching large, readily recognizable buttons. These features include the ability to send and receive e-mail, open a Web browser, and launch other apps. For those with limited manual dexterity, there is the option of instructing the tablet via voice recognition technology. Additional features include a summary of local weather conditions on the homepage and a “medicine” link that not only helps users to keep track of the their medications but also reminds them when to take them.
The history of this odyssey from Pace to South Africa is an interesting one. At the urging of Professor Jean Coppola, a group of students in her popular intergenerational computing class participated in the Pace Mobile Competition in early December. In keeping with the contest’s “green” theme, the team created “Energy Watcher” which won 1st prize, surpassing submissions from more experienced upper classmen and graduate students. Peter Franceschini happened to be a member of this winning team. At its conclusion, Professor Christelle Scharff, organizer of the competition, encouraged those who were interested in going further to submit an app to the Berkeley Mobile International Collaborative (BMIC), a California-based organization that sponsors an annual global mobile innovation competition for college and university students. Peter decided to take on the challenge.
He then enlisted his suite mate, John Robb, who he knew had a strong sense of design as well as valuable communications skills, to assist him in developing a new mobile app. Peter decided to revive the CANDOO concept that he had previously used for a project in Professor Coppola’s class but realized that it would have to be rebuilt from the bottom up. Once the decision was made to collaborate, Peter and John worked feverishly to complete it, even during their “time off” time over the holiday break. Finally, they submitted CANDOO to the BMIC-sponsored international competition. This time the competition was a bit stiffer as they found themselves going up against entries from schools in the U.S., Canada, Europe, the Middle East, India, Pakistan and elsewhere and were pleased to be among the only three U.S. finalists. As finalists, they were invited to compete at the University Mobile Challenge in Barcelona where they once again proved their mettle.
All of this happened so quickly that Peter and John can hardly believe it is actually happening to them. In addition to meeting the challenge of developing a successful mobile app and enjoying the competition and camaraderie of students from all over, they also learned a great deal of practical information regarding business and marketing that they had not previously known. Inspired by their new knowledge and multiple successes, Peter indicated that the two of them have gained considerable confidence and “now know what to expect and what they need to do to come on strong and perform even better in South Africa.