Always room for improvement
A great deal of excellent software programs created by young Thai talents have usually ended up receiving an award, after which there is no further development. But now many of those applications will prove their worth as they have been promoted for improvement through the “Tor Kla Hai Terb Yai” (Sprout Up) project, a collaboration between the National Electronics and Computer Technology Centre (Nectec) and Siam Commercial Foundation.
Teams of students who joined Nectec’s National Software Contest 2013 have been selected by the committee to participate in the project and receive financial and marketing back-up. Some apps are already available for download, while some need additional development.
Jack Finds The Treasure is a mobile game that encourages children to learn English through the adventures of Jack and an angel hunting for treasure. A team from St. Francis Xavier Convent School created the app so kids can have fun while learning. Divided into three levels of difficulty, the vocab covers 20 different locations such as a school, a hospital, a post office and a supermarket. Each category contains some 50-100 words. Running on iOS and Android, the app encompasses story, vocab, exercises and gaming.
“Know the words, it’s easy to memorise with Jack” is the concept of this app, said Pitchaporn Likitpanjamanon, a team member. The fun part of this game is that the program randomises the clues for where Jack is supposed to go, and players must solve the puzzle and walk toward that place. When they reach it, they must find five items within two minutes, then walk to another location and do the same.
A group of seven students at Rayong Witthayakom School developed BadGreen, a combination of role-playing and puzzle game with 3D graphics.
BadGreen is the story of nature’s unhappiness towards humans who drop rubbish. Nature punishes them by seizing the world and covering it with a “bad weed”. Players get magic powers to deal with monsters and are challenged by obstacles along the course of their journeys.
“Players will enjoy fighting with the monsters while coping with problems. During the course of game, they also have to separate the garbage properly as it helps them increase skills in fighting the weed that covers the globe,” said Morachate Usadee, the team leader, adding that the game encourages players to practice garbage separation.
They also learn about different types of garbage: recycled trash, hazardous trash and wet trash.
Besides being available in the App Store, Morachate said the team plans to offer the game to companies so they might use the app as part of their CSR campaigns.
Kunaphas Kongkitimanon and Phakin Cheangkrachange, senior students at Mahidol University’s Faculty of Information Communication and Technology, created Beamify, a mobile app that allows people to use their smartphone without being charged by the telecom operator or ISP.
Once users install Beamify (available on Android), the app will connect their smartphone to others via Wi-Fi by creating a private network. Beamify will enable smartphones to function when electricity or network services are down, or if users are in a remote area where no network service is available.
The app was developed based on Wi-Fi and Android multithread programming. As a private network, it can support communication programs like chat, file transfer, voice and video messaging, real-time communication and emergency calls.
“We developed this application so that users can efficiently send and receive data to each other within a 200m radius, depending on the weather or location. The amount of data depends on the capacity of the end-device,” said Kunaphas, adding that Beamify allows smartphones to communicate with each other without a 3G network or the internet so users aren’t charged.
A group of three girls from St. Francis Xavier has turned a difficult chemistry concept into an animated game that learners can easily understand. They presented the subject of biomolecules through the story of Zombio. In this game, players take the role of Zombio, who wants to be human, and create a science lab in his basement. They are required to watch an experiment and must answer a series of questions so Zombio can become a person.
The content comprises five lessons covering carbohydrates, proteins, lipids, nucleic acids and an experimental section.
“This program enhances laboratory experience for students at schools with no labs,” said team leader Thanjira Sukkree.
The team applied Adobe Illustrator CS6, Audacity, Zinc 4.0 and Adobe Flash CS6, with Action script 3.0 controlling the software, in developing this app.
Besides communication and entertainment, smartphones can serve business purposes, and this motivated a team of students from Prince Royal College, Chiang Mai, to develop an app called Scan To Buy which will be available for download soon.
Team leader Thachapol Singvejsakul said they applied QR and AR (augmented reality) code technology so that users can view the products’ colour, shape and detail in 3D.
Basically, the app and its web-supported version are connected. When users see products on the app and wish to see them in 3D, they are required to open the web version and scan the products’ AR code, allowing them to see the goods in 3D.
Initially, the team focused on local products from the North, especially Chiang Mai, to promote locally-made goods. “Once you confirm the order, you can then select the place for delivery, and the date and time,” Thachapol explained.
Another team from Prince Royal College turned a traditional Thai game, Mon Son Pha (Hiding A Cloth), into a game called Monmon Dash, a 3D car racing game that challenges the skill of players.
Developed on the Unity 3D program, the endless-run-type game works on smartphones and tablets, and is now available on Android and will be available on iOS and WindowsPhone very soon.
Phuwadech Santhanapirom, the team leader, noted that the game has mixed exciting and joyful scenes of the modern and the old in order to encourage youths to be more interested in Mon Son Pha in the hope that it will eventually help preserve Thai tradition.
Another team from St. Francis Xavier School created Cooking Family for the kids aged nine to 11 years old, and users can choose to play in either Thai or English.
The game comprises nine dishes — main courses, desserts and drinks — that players have to cook within a time limit.
“It is an animation simulation game that contains knowledge of Thai cuisine. With the Leap Motion technique, users can perform cooking like they are really in the kitchen,” said Sojirath Thunprateep, a team member. The game can run on PC, tablet and smartphone on both iOS and Android platforms. Users can choose to play single or multi-player mode.
According to Siam Commercial Foundation manager Piyaporn Manthachitra, beyond staging competitions, Nectec has potential for incubation and engine-supporting for developing young IT hopefuls.
For the past two years, the young developers have been improving their apps to reach end-users. Some have been connected to other science fields such as medicine and environment.
This group of talented students should have an opportunity to learn how to produce software and products that match what the market and users want.
“We also expect that with our approach, the youths will share their potential with society responsibly,” said Piyaporn.