Dubai students' app for heart patients

A team of students from the University of Wollongong in Dubai (UOWD) has produced a mobile app, which has the potential to change the lives of cardiovascular patients worldwide, encouraging them to make positive life changes by making exercise more fun.

Cardio Builder, a ‘gamified’ mobile app created by four final-year Computer Science students, Mohammed Kazim Abbas, Afrah Ahmed, Yerlan Jumatayev and Digital Systems Security Major, Katia Freywat, uses data provided by popular wearable fitness trackers to monitor a patient’s pulse and exercise levels in real-time and challenges them to raise their heart rate and increase exercise in order to unlock achievement badges and new levels.

The app also allows patients to create a list of the medication they need to take, and rewards them with extra points if they take it on time, along with the ability to share their progress on social media and challenge their friends who are also users of the app.

"We noticed that there were fitness tracker-linked games on the market for diabetes patients and those fighting obesity, but nothing existed to help people suffering from cardiovascular disease," explained Project Manager, Mohammed Kazim Abbas. "With recent statistics from Dubai’s Rashid Hospital suggesting that smoking, obesity and lack of exercise cause fatal heart attacks in UAE residents 20 years earlier than the worldwide average, we wanted to turn to technology to create a solution that would encourage cardiovascular patients to make changes to their daily routine in the interest of a more positive prognosis."

For team member Afrah Ahmed, the inspiration for the app came from a family member who was diagnosed with cardiovascular disease. "For many heart patients, the most difficult part of trying to improve their condition is sustaining long-term will-power and momentum. We wanted to create an app that would motivate them to continue with the positive life changes. Our research showed that by making things a little more fun, it helped users exhibit more self-control and reduced the stress many patients place on themselves to achieve a goal."

After receiving guidance from cardiologists at Dubai’s Rashid Hospital and Prime Medical Centre, the app has already attracted the attention of several of the UAE’s leading technology and academic experts. As a result, the team beat over 100 other computer scientists to bag an award at UOWD’s annual software development tradeshow.

The developers are currently working to link the app to a wider range of fitness tracker devices, and are hoping to launch the app on both Android and Apple devices later this year.

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