Team wins gold award for balance app

Team wins gold award for balance app
All smiles: Ms Yang Shuang He receiving the Gold Award at the Institution of Engineers, Singapore (IES) Design Awards, presented by Education Minister Heng Swee Keat.

It is something most people take for granted: Maintaining good balance, which will prevent falls and injuries for all age groups.

But a duo from the infocomm and network engineering course in Temasek Polytechnic, Ms Yang Shuang He and Ms Jia Yixin, were particularly concerned about seniors with poor balance.

Ms Yang, 22, said: "We realised that as people get older, they tend to lose balance more often."

With some help from the Institute for Infocomm Research, the two friends designed a Google Android smartphone app that physiotherapists can use to track a person's progress in maintaining body balance.

The app, called the Balanced Training and Evaluation System, is not available in the Google Play app store now.

The project supervisor, Mr Kumbar Shankarappa, 47, said: "The traditional balance machine used in hospitals can be costly and it would be inconvenient for elderly to make the trip down.

"With this app, they can test their balance anytime and anywhere."

Making use of its ability to detect motion, the smartphone strapped to the patient's waist would be able to determine if the person is standing upright or swaying.

Various balancing tests are programmed into the app to analyse which direction the patient sways towards more.

Results are captured in a simple graph and the patient's physiotherapist is able to view this immediately through a cloud server.

But the process of engineering the app was not easy.

Ms Yang said: "We had to learn how to do many new things and went through a lot of trial and error."

The team had even sent the app for feedback to the Changi General Hospital, Tan Tock Seng Hospital and the All Saints Home, a home for the elderly.


Feedback from these trials led to changes such as larger fonts on the app, louder audio feedback and for the app to be bilingual.

In the final version of the app, the interface is clean, simple and users can choose a Mandarin version.

The app won the Gold Award at the Institution of Engineers, Singapore Design Awards presented by the guest of honour, Education Minister Heng Swee Keat, at the National Engineers Day on July 18.

Ms Yang said: "We are glad we can contribute and benefit the community, though we struggled in the beginning."

The team, which has graduated, has handed the project over to their juniors.

Ms Yang said: "We hope that once the app is the best it can be, it can be put out on the market for the public, so that seniors can benefit from it."

This article was first published on MONTH DAY, 2014.
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