Our first highlighted project was completed by Steve Jenkins. This project was Steve’s senior project at IUPUI and won the Dunipace Outstanding Senior Design Award for the spring semester of 2013. Steve worked with financial sponsor Raytheon and conceptual sponsor the Little Star Center (Carmel, IN) to create an Android application to help develop communication skills of children diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder.
One of the treatments the Little Star Center uses seeks to develop communication through listener responding exercises where the child will be shown an array of images on flash cards and asked to identify a certain object or depiction from the set. The trouble with the exercise was in gathering data on the tests. Since it was all done manually, it was not practical to log every test by hand. Therefore, they relied on “cold trials” that would be performed at regular intervals, like every week or every month or so on, and they would take the results of the cold trials as the basis of gauging their progress. While the results of the cold trials might come close in terms of their accuracy over a long period of time, they still left much to be desired in terms of robust sample data.
In order to overcome this problem, Steve and his team were solicited to automate the process for Little Star Center and they did so by developing an Android application for use with a tablet computer, specifically the Google Nexus 10. They worked from the ground up with the Little Star Center, visiting and watching how the tests were conducted manually with the staff and children, working with their Senior Clinical Director to understand the test process, the exercise flow, and the potential pitfalls, and determining the scope of the project including the subject matter of the tests and the prospective data they hoped to capture.
Having had more practical workforce experience as well as strong customer facing presentation and speaking abilities Steve took on the project management role. He worked on the overall design, the user interface layout, the logic for tracking the data, sourcing the open-source graphics they were to use as a starting point, and refining their requirements document, their use cases, their statement of work, and their presentations as well as serving as liaison to their sponsors and their professor.
Steve and his team ultimately developed an Android application with the following features:
- support of multiple user login profiles for the children
- a starting repository of 50 unique concepts with three images representing each concept
- ability to create new concepts using images on the device (either downloaded or photos from the camera)
- ability to track the success rate for each child for each concept down to each image of a concept
- make the correct concept more obvious after each incorrect answer
- track the overall number of incorrect responses for each trial and each concept
- break down the exposure of the concepts for each user as new, seen, and mastered
- reward the user with a brief novel game for a profile specific number of correct responses
- compile aggregate data that can be exported to an external file for tracking user progress
Overall, working on the project was a great experience for Steve. He learned a lot about the software design process and all of the planning that goes into it. The project was also successful with respect to the sponsor. Little Star is using the application in their center and has plans to further develop and refine it in the future.