According to the World Health Organization (WHO), cancer was the cause of 8.2 million deaths worldwide in 2012 alone.
Fairiha Khan shared her experience of losing a parent to the disease, and how having a support system is essential; her team would later enter Microsoft’s Imagine Cup competition with what she hoped was “something that will have a global impact.” This is where the Heroes app comes in, an online community platform to bring together cancer patients and survivors, and their friends and family members. The 22-year-old project manager is joined by fellow University of Wollongong in Dubai (UOWD) students and grads: 29-year-old Abubakar Abdulbasit as back-end developer, 23-year-old Ashiqur Rahman as front-end developer and 22-year-old Artaza Aziz as back-end developer.
The app encourages positive thinking through their forums where users are reminded to be grateful and give back to society, as well as a medical updates forum. Other features also include being able to find other users based on the type of cancer or by user location, the option to add different users as emergency contacts, categories based on cognitive therapy research that help to reinforce positive behaviors, and inspiring posts that can be added to a scrapbook. To get the word out, they plan to use social media, as well as working with hospitals and medical practitioners “to introduce us to more patients- so they can test the app and help us develop it according to their needs.”
After launching in April 2014 at the Microsoft Imagine Cup competition and securing third place, three competitions later, the app has made its rounds placing second in the Microsoft Hackathon, and competing in the GITEX Student Competition. Currently in beta phase, the developers say that the competitions have helped them get feedback from both users and experts about the app, and also glean suggested app additions. The developers are still weighing options as how to monetize on Heroes, and since it currently only functions on Microsoft’s platform, their 2015 agenda is focused on getting it on multiple platforms.