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App that helps monitor mood levels is a winner

Another app that helps wheelchair users navigate their routes takes silver award.

Mr Koh was motivated to develop his Emotional Analysis Buddy app after reading reports of people descending into emotional distress that resulted in depression or, worse, suicide.

AN APP that can help monitor one's mood based on what you post on social media. That's the idea behind Emotional Analysis Buddy, the gold winner of this year's Best Innovative ICM Student Project in the tertiary category.

The app's developer, Koh Vinleon, 20, was motivated to develop it after reading news reports of people descending into emotional distress resulting in depression or, worse, suicide.

"As I was getting more exposure to the different IT technologies available, I thought of using what I had learnt to come up with something useful to help people out there," says Mr Koh, a final year student in Business Informatics at Nanyang Polytechnic's School of Information Technology.

"To many people, emotional and mental wellness are taboo subjects. But emotional wellness is an essential part of our health and it is as important as physical wellness."

The app works to aid early detection and management of emotional stress. It does this by analysing stress levels through the user's daily posts on different social media platforms.

It identifies patterns in real time and updates the user on his emotional state. It is even able to accumulate observations over time.

If the levels dip too low, a Buddy Support feature is triggered and the app will initiate a chat with the user to talk about why he is feeling a certain way.

Mr Koh decided to take on the task of developing an app as part of his final-year project, starting work on it in May and completing it in about three months.

So far the project has had good response from people who tried it out, says Mr Koh.

"I have generally received positive feedback on how it can be part of their daily life just like physical tracking," he says, adding that he is considering seeking funding to further develop the app.

His experience in developing the app has strengthened Mr Koh's belief that his career lies in software development and app building.

"Yes, I was inspired by many entrepreneurs on how they integrated IT solutions into their businesses to enhance their operations. These days many people are looking into the IT factor in businesses as well," he says.

The winner of the silver award in this same tertiary category was Happy Wheel, an app that also aims to make a positive difference in people's lives. In this case, the app is targeted at wheelchair users.

The app was developed by a team of students from Singapore Polytechnic, one of whom is a wheelchair user himself, Mohammad Najulah, 20.

Happy Wheel works by informing users where the wheelchair accessible routes are, allowing wheelchair users to get to their destinations in the most efficient manner. The information is crowd-sourced with users updating the map with annotated pictures and information.

The idea for the app arose after Mr Najulah, who is doing a Diploma in Business Information Technology, had to visit Microsoft in the Central Business District with a group of other Singapore Polytechnic students.

"When we went to the area, we realised that it was very difficult to get to the office because it was hard to find barrier-free lanes. It took us an hour to get from the MRT station to the office," says Mr Najulah, who was with friends including Tay Hui Chun, 19.

"It was due to these problems that we had the inspiration to create Happy Wheel," says Ms Tay.

The app was developed over the course of last year and it won the People's Choice Award in the Transport and Youth hackathon last year. It was even highlighted by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, who attended the event, on his Facebook page.