Given the opportunity to develop a novel iPad application that promoted social good, a team of six Michigan computer science undergraduates jumped at the chance. The app that they developed, called ASK Messaging (originally Accessible Messaging), takes advantage of the iPad's large touchscreen to help individuals with fine motor control disabilities to send email and text messages, using an interface that does not require precise on-screen touches.
The idea for ASK Messaging was born in Fall 2010, as a project for the EECS 481 Software Engineering class taught by Dr. David Chesney. A representative from the University's C.S. Mott Children's Hospital visited the class and spoke about the needs of patients at the hospital.
Developing the app led the students in directions they had previously not anticipated. They became entrepreneurs, starting their own company and competing in business pitch competitions; the team took second place at the Berkeley Mobile International Collaborate (BMIC) University Mobile Challenge at the 2011 Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain and first place in the U-M Center for Entrepreneurship's (CFE) Bay Area Entrepreneurial Experience Competition. In developing the app, the students worked closely with therapists and patients at Mott Hospitaland with The Bridge School in Hillsborough, CA.
In mobile programming competition, ASK Messaging won first place overall in the Spring 2011 U-M Mobile Apps Challenge.
ASK Messaging was created by Erica Christensen (BSE '11) Kimberly Hunter (BSE '11) Scott Jenks (BSE '10) Chelsea LeBlanc (BS '11) Chris McMeeking (BSE '12) Michelle Noronha (BSE '11). Chris McMeeking is taking the project forward to commercialization. He and two business partners, U-M CS alum Jeff Miller and U-M MBA student Jackson Buell, are creating an Android version of the app as well.