Is there an app for that?
07 August 2012 by Dick Meredith, London Press Service
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How do I say? … the boom in applications or apps used on smart phones is creating all kinds of business and design opportunities. Image: Codegent.
Is there an app for that?
The number of new applications - or apps - that can be used with the latest devices is also soaring, daily providing examples of the kind of creativity in design, technology and business ingenuity that is reaping strong financial rewards.
Among entrants to this growing market is web development and digital product designer Codegent, based in south-west London. Managing director David Hart said: “We have been producing our own mobile apps, mainly very simple, language phrase book apps. We launched our first app just over a year ago and have had over 2.1 million downloads in the Apple App Store and Android Marketplace.”
These are simple iPhone, iPad and Android phrase books designed for beginners and tourists, and have more than 600 phrases recorded for each app, with translations and helpful tips.
“We have been working on most popular Asian languages such as Chinese, Japanese, Korean and Thai and we are now moving on to European languages such as Italian, Spanish, French and German. We will continue to work on other languages of the world,” he added.
Another major area for the booming growth in the creation of apps, alongside travel, shopping, playing games and electronic banking has been in the healthcare and medical sector. Family doctors in England could soon be asked to “prescribe” apps to patients to help them manage their medical conditions.
The Department of Health has said it wants general practitioners (GPs) to be able to prescribe digital applications to assist their patients, after asking the public what kind of apps they would like to see available.
The most popular ideas for apps included help to manage long-term disease such as diabetes, and to help monitor conditions such as high blood pressure. More recent ideas have included a contraception choice app.
UK Health Secretary Andrew Lansley said: “I want to make using apps to track blood pressure, to find the nearest source of support when you need it and to get practical help in staying healthy the norm.
“Information about your health is a service - just like the GP surgeries, walk-in centres and hospitals that millions of people access every week. With more information at their fingertips, patients can truly be in the driving seat,” he added. “Innovation and technology can revolutionise the health service, and we are looking at how the National Health Service [NHS] can use these apps for the benefit of patients, including how GPs could offer them for free.”
The Department of Health said that last month its website NHS Choices was visited by nearly 15 million people looking for information on health and local services.
Developing smart phone apps is the next step in giving patients the information and advice they need and want to stay healthy, it added.
The government is in the process of developing an information strategy to ensure that patients and clinicians have access to meaningful and up-to-date information.
This will give patients more choice over their health, the government said, while also giving doctors the information to manage how they deliver local services. The strategy is expected to be published in early 2013.
Scientists, meanwhile, have begun to take advantage of the expansion in smart phone technology to investigate human behaviour, and researchers say they can learn a lot from using apps to conduct research.
An app has been developed by behavioural experts to record how people’s perceptions of themselves vary from day to day. The program will give researchers a better understanding of how people spend their time each day, and how they feel about themselves going about their daily routine.
The app prompts participants twice a day for eight days to rate how they are feeling and to indicate who they are with, where they are and what they are doing.
Scientists at the University of Edinburgh, who developed the Daily Self app, hope their findings will help confirm whether it is the small things in life that have a larger impact on how we feel about ourselves than we realised.
The study’s lead investigator, Dr Alison Lenton, of Edinburgh University’s School of Philosophy, Psychology & Language Sciences, said: “The data will give us an idea of how people’s sense of themselves changes on a day-to-day basis, which means we’ll have a better understanding of what constitutes ‘typical’ variation in self-related thoughts and feelings.
“We already know that ‘the self’ is changeable but most of the research to date has been done in the lab. We want to know just how variable the self is in everyday life.”
Dr Lenton added: “We are at the forefront of psychological scientists using smart phone technology to collect data from people as they go about their daily lives. The questions we are asking are not too dissimilar from services like FourSquare or Facebook, so people are used to stopping and reflecting on themselves.
“We are expecting that by using this innovative technology we will obtain a more complete picture of how people view themselves and, further, how their local environment and activities affect that view.”