Developer Interview with Lois Jean Brady of iTherapy at The iMums
Thank you for participating our interview. Please tell us a little about yourself.
I am a speech pathologist, assistive technology specialist, certified autism specialist, author (Apps for Autism) and producer of Autism TodayTV. I work with students of every age and ability. I am also a registered Per Partner Team and have a potbelly pig named Buttercup that provides “low tech” motivation for all; students, parents and staff.
Matthew Guggemos (co-developer) is also a speech pathologist who specializes in autism and assistive technology. He received the Mensa Education & Research Foundation Intellectual Benefit to Society Award for his patent of InnerVoice.
How did the idea for your app come about?
My co-creator, Matthew Guggemos and I work with students and attend parent meetings/IEPs on a daily basis. We noted two areas fundamental areas of need in communication apps. 1. Engagement – Parents and educators report that they cannot seem to get their child/student interested in their AAC app. 2. Cost – Many parents and school districts simply cannot afford the high price tag of AAC apps.
To solve the problem of engagement we partnered with MotionPortrait who creates 3D animated avatars from photos. Their motto is to “Surprise and Amaze!” We call this approach Edutainment.
Edutainment — teaching through a medium that both educates and entertains, iTherapy and MotionPortrait’s system emphasizes engagement and joint attention. At the same time, InnerVoice incorporates speech-pathologist-designed, evidence-based practices that improve speech, language, communication, and social skills. Recent research articles have postulated that education, entertainment, and video self-modeling can provide tremendous benefits for individuals with autism.
And how long was the process from the original idea to the release of the app?
The idea has been “stewing” in my mind for a while, however the entire process took approximately 9 months.
Matthew and I have been doing clinical trials to ensure the most effective, easy to use AAC app on the market.
Did you hire a developer or do it yourself?
InnerVoice is the product of a partnership between iTherapy and MotionPortrain. iTherapy provided the clinical trials and ensured that evidence based, best practices were adhered to in developing InnerVoice. MotionPortrait brought provided the best photo-based 3D avatars and synchronized mouth movements on the market today.
What has been the hardest obstacle you have had to overcome in the development process?
Keeping track of details. Every detail is important and makes the end product effective and user friendly. Writing the User Manual was also quite a challenge.
Have you had much support during the development process (from family, peers, Apple Inc.)?
We have been blessed with incredible family support! On those long nights when we find ourselves tapping at the keyboard, mumbling to the ceiling our families have jumped-in to help out in any way possible.
What are your plans for the future? Will you be developing any more apps?
Initially I told myself, “Never Again!” Now, I can’t wait to make more. The whole process is exciting and overwhelming and somehow addicting.
What sort of feedback has your app been receiving so far?
We spent many, many clinical hours with students from every age and ability and knew InnerVoice would engage and motivate students to communicate as-well-as teach language skills. We were relieved to hear others with the same outcomes.
And finally, what advice would you give to anyone considering creating their own app?
Do it!! Be prepared for a roller coaster. Also, know that the real work begins after the app is developed. Developing is only 1/2 the job, marketing is equally important.
Thank you so much for talking with us today and sharing a bit about your company. We really appreciated the chance to get to know you!
InnerVoice: augmentative alternative communication
by MotionPortrait, Inc.
Category: Education, Medical
Requirements: Compatible with iPhone 3GS, iPad 2 3G, iPhone4S, iPad WiFi, iPhone5, iPad 2 WiFI, iPhone5s, iPadFourthGen4G, iPod Touch (4. Gen.), iPadMini, iPod Touch (3. Gen.), iPad 3G, iPhone5c, iPhone 4, iPadThirdGen, iPodTouchFifthGen, iPadMini4G, iPadFourthGen, iPadThirdGen4G
Size: 90.06 MB