CS Students Take Second Place with "Accessible Messaging" iPad App at Mobile World Congress

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A team of U-M Computer Science students has placed second in the University Mobile Challenge Competition at the Mobile World Congress, in Barcelona. The competition took place on Feb. 14, 2011.

The students pitched the novel iPad application that they developed, called "Accessible Messaging," that helps individuals with Cerebal Palsy or other issues with compromised motor skills and speech difficulties to communicate independently. Based on interest generated by the app, four of the students made the trip to Barcelona to enter the competition.

The idea for the app 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.

The students - Chelsea LeBlanc, Erica Christensen, Kimberly Hunter, Scott Jenks, Chris McMeeking, and Michelle Noronha, developed their idea for the app, and worked with rehabilitation engineers at the hospital to refine it; the result was Accessible Messaging. The app takes advantage of the iPad's large screen -- essentially turning it into one large button -- to allow the user to make and narrow selections, based on revolving sets of choices, without having to press small buttons or controls.

Once developed, the potential of the app became clear quickly, and it was a featured part of the Product Design Show, an informational series of videos on ENGINEERING.com.

Finalists in the University Mobile Challenge Competition included University of California, Berkeley; University of Michigan, Ann Arbor; Florida State University; Tsinghua University (Beijing;, India Institute of Technology, Kharagpu;, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich; Ecole Centrale de Pari; Ecole Polytechnique; Politecnico di Torino; King Saud University; and Stanford University.

Entrance to the contest at the Mobile World Congress was sponsored by the Center for Entrepreneurship.

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