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Students harness mobile technology to improve the lives of heart patients

Monday, 20 July, 2015

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

Cardio Builder, a gamified mobile application created by final year Computer Science students Mohammed Kazim Abbas,  Afrah Ahmed, Yerlan Jumatayev  and Digital Systems Security major Katia Freywat  uses the 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 game 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,” explains Project Manager Mohammed Kazim Abbas. “With recent statistics from Dubai’s Rashid Hospital suggesting that smoking, obesity and a lack of exercise causes fatal heart attacks in people living in the UAE 20 years earlier than the worldwide average, we wanted to turn to technology to help us to create a solution that would encourage cardiovascular patients to make changes to their daily routine to lead to a more positive prognosis.”

For team member Afrah Ahmed, the inspiration for the application 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 application which motivated them to continue with the positive life changes they had made. Our research showed that by making things a little more fun, it helped users exhibit more self-control and reduced the existential 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 game has already attracted attention from a plethora of the UAE’s leading technology and academic experts which led to the team beating over 100 other computer scientists to be bestowed with an award for their efforts at UOWD’s annual software development tradeshow.

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