Students win $30,000 to develop app that encourages people to not use their phones

(From left) Libern Lin Yue Bin, 20, Fang LingQing, 20, and Yap Jian Le, Lester, 20, showing their award winning 'Apple Tree' apps at the Splash Awards. A team of 20-year-old Republic Polytechnic students have been awarded $30,000 to develop an a
(From left) Libern Lin Yue Bin, 20, Fang LingQing, 20, and Yap Jian Le, Lester, 20, showing their award winning 'Apple Tree' apps at the Splash Awards. A team of 20-year-old Republic Polytechnic students have been awarded $30,000 to develop an app which stops phone users from using other apps. -- ST PHOTO: DESMOND WEE

SINGAPORE - A team of 20-year-old Republic Polytechnic students have been awarded $30,000 to develop an app which stops phone users from using other apps.

Libern Lin, Fang Lingqing and Lester Yap won the grant at the Splash Awards on Tuesday to develop their app idea Apple Tree for release next March to mark the SG50 celebrations.

The awards, organised by the Singapore Computer Society, saw youngsters from schools and universities across Singapore compete to come up with apps that would bring the local community together.

Apple Tree, for instance, encourages users to spend more face time with friends and family instead of using their phones. The app functions by getting two or more users to put their phones together. The app then immobilises the phone while a virtual apple tree grows on the screen. The longer the phones remain together but untouched, the more apples grow on the tree.

The team hopes to partner with vendors such as cinemas or clothing retailers to offer discounts to users in exchange for apples. Users are also encouraged to raise donations for charities by collecting apples.

Apple Tree topped the contest's tertiary category, while a team from Hwa Chong Institution College Section clinched the top prize for the pre-tertiary category with their app RunSG.

The app charts routes for runners using data on traffic conditions and air quality, and encourages runners to meet up and run together.

The Splash awards, which are in their 11th year, saw 63 entries with more than 167 participants during the submission period of July to September. Minister of State for National Development, Mr Desmond Lee, was the event's guest of honour.