When working with Antbits Ltd on the Be Food Smart application - the NHS's most successful mobile app to date - we chose to use HTML5 rather than native technologies. The advantage of HTML5 and CSS3 is that it enables us to develop cross-platform applications in a fraction of the time and budget. Through this approach we’ve further honed our “Write Once Deploy Many Times” skills; the app works on iPad, Android, Desktop and as an embedded web widget — all using the same code.
Why develop a custom VDU when an iPad can deliver better results in less time? A Royal College of Art team came to us looking to develop a one-off user interface to demonstrate their innovative Vital Signs monitoring system prototype. But more than just look the part, they wanted to simulate the vital signs monitoring process by linking the app with a third party blood pressure device. The device they chose had a completely undocumented protocol that we discovered — after building our own reverse-engineering tools — was in Mandarin Chinese! Of course, that didn’t stop us; the project worked perfectly and was completed ahead of time.
FITFU - IMAGES
The FitFu application contained a trophy cabinet with about 30 trophies… but when the gold, silver, bronze and wood variants along with multiple sizes for Facebook, Game Center and retina screen were taken into account that meant over 400 image files. To make these files by hand would take 3-4 days and this would have to be done each time the designer changed something. Instead, we developed a small program that could cut, edit and composite the whole set in seconds. Total time saving: at least 200 hours.
FITFU - APP
FitFu is a unique motion-sensing iPhone app, built on the foundations established by our GymFu apps. The application uses sophisticated interpretation of the 3-axis accelerometer data to count repetitions of bodyweight exercises and encourage the user. At its core is a custom-made social network backend we created to allow people to make friends, share awards and encourage progress. The application was featured extensively by Apple, was the #1 Overall app in several countries and was featured on their Worldwide Developer Conference display.
Shortly after the App Store was introduced by Apple, we saw the opportunity to create a new kind of fitness tool — one that counted your reps for you and gave you feedback on their speed, range and quality. To do this we created our own motion capture studio with webcams and reversed-engineered Wii remotes. The apps were hugely successful; by adding a training and competitive edge — via our custom-built social network — our users have clocked on 50,000,000 reps in the system. Like FitFu the app has been extensively featured by Apple and has frequently been in the Top 25 health and fitness apps.
At BRAINBAKERY we are passionate about health and medical applications. On several occasions we’ve supplied the technical backup to Antbits Ltd to adapt Elsevier’s flagship medical textbooks, such as Grays Anatomy for Students shown here, to iOS. With thousands of images and text in a variety of formats from a variety of sources, we’ve made custom software to speed the process of software development; but to achieve the polish and user experience we expect of ourselves, the ultimate experience comes down to the manual hands-on effort we put into every page.
We have a long-standing relationship with NHS Choices and, like Elsevier, we’ve collaborated with Antbits a number of times to bring their health messages to the public. The NHS Football Fan Fitness Challenge was a experiment to utilize the international football season along with the Men’s Health Foundation to promote well-being in a “gamified” way.
When Elsevier wanted to push the boundaries of medical book applications by displaying detailed and interactive medical imagery they knew to turn to BRAINBAKERY. The White Matter application required importing gigabytes of data and images from an established textbook and post-processing and adapting them semi-autonomously to suit a tablet layout. The end result was a ground-breaking user experience, enabling medical experts and students to delve quickly into various functional areas of the brain.
The World Flair Organisation approached us with an unusual request; for their Virtual Pour application they wanted to accurately simulate the fluid dynamics of pouring cocktails in order to train bar tenders! Over the period of a few days we took detailed measurements of the pouring process and combined it with stunning ray-traced graphics to create a pouring simulator that’s millisecond-accurate.
One thing on which we pride ourselves at BRAINBAKERY is our ability to write code for multiple solutions at once. Elsevier’s Case Reviews app is a case in point — by carefully planning the design and user experience with Antbits we were able to write one application that is simultaneously optimized for iPhone and iPad with no compromises.
NHS’s BMI Calculator has been well received by the public thanks to its simple user experience and clear design — created in conjuction with Antbits. To maximize impact, the application needs to be easy to use across a wide range of abilities and have a clear and singular focus.
A consequence of frequently developing complex applications is that it hones our core development skills. The upshot is that we can deliver relatively simple applications such as this designed by Euro RSCG Riley fast and at a competitive price.