Winner of the Congressional App Challenge

A phone-stabilization app to assist people afflicted with Parkinsons

Problem Statement

Parkinson’s is a degenerative disease faced by 6.3 million people worldwide. Given that one of its most common and most debilitating symptoms causes a patient to degrade in fine motor skills, using a device is very difficult. ParkinSafe allows Parkinson’s patients to use a device more easily through screen stabilization technology.

Programming Difficulties

One of the major programming difficulties we faced involved the lack of resources provided. As mentioned in the submitted video, the language we were using (Swift 3.0) updated to its newest version recently, and much of its syntax was changed from its older, 2.0 version. At the time of coding the app, the version of Swift we used was relatively new, which caused an explicit lack of coding resources for us to use in order to program our app. Common websites we would use to ease our frustrations when programming, such as StackOverflow, became full of misinformation pertaining to the old version of Swift, rendering them almost useless. As well as the language itself changing, we were attempting an idea that was new, and were limited in terms of inspiration for writing code. Fortunately, this made our app unique, and despite scratching our heads for days to try to fix the initially buggy program, we ended up with a final product we are proud of. Apart from difficulties with resources, we also struggled to find a way to make minor screen lag not affect the user experience. We were aiming for flawless compensation, and therefore even the smallest setbacks in on-screen motion could be problematic. We solved this by making adjustments to the gyroscopic update intervals such that the screen would move faster than the human eye could notice any lag or imperfections. Motion became seamless in our application, as intended, making it an extremely useful tool for Parkinson’s patients.

Future Improvements

In a 2.0 version of ParkinSafe, our goal would be to the app applicable to all other applications accessible by the device's firmware (i.e books, pictures, web browser, etc.). Currently, only the core of the software is completed, and the app is only useful to an extent which reaches what is inside the app itself. In order to truly make it a universal tool for patients across the globe, we would need to add support for the variety of other apps on a user’s device. Another improvement we would make to the app is to add support for different screen sizes and Android devices. The principle of universal use for our app is essential to its success, and supporting a variety of devices would be among the first steps in the right direction.

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