People with autism, post-traumatic stress disorder, aphasia, dementia, and those who have suffered from a traumatic brain injury or stroke sometimes have a hard time expressing their emotions. According to the Florida Polytechnic University new release, Florida Polytechnic University and a Tampa technology company came together to develop a mobile app designed to help those with brain-based impediments to express their emotions. Students from Florida Polytechnic University are making a positive difference in the world by being involved in the development of this incredible mobile app.

OiGO – which comes from the Spanish word for “hear” is the application’s name. OiGO will uses technology to overcome the communication barrier those patients struggle with by allowing the user to select the emotion they are feeling. If the individual is feeling sad, they would then select a reason why that emotion is being felt. There are two components to the app, OiGO SELF, which is the sentence construction portion, and the OiGO HELP ME, which is the behavioral solution component.

 “In essence, it’s a conversation starter,” said Albert Fernandez, co-founder, and chief executive officer of Assistive Communications Technologies (ACT), based in Tampa, Florida. “We’ve conducted four years of pretty intensive research, and nothing exists to help them unite communication and emotion, two components that are so important to social and emotional health.”

Fernandez works closely with his cousin and business partner, Brenda Pharr Jensen. He said the inspiration for OiGO is from a family member with numerous language and speech impairments.

“We thought we could help solve two problems at once, the inability to express emotion and, as a result, the self-destructive behavior that ensues,” added Fernandez, who has been a language arts educator for more than 25 years.

OiGO’s software development has been the main challenge for ACT, and that’s where Florida Poly comes in. A group of five students has been working on not only the coding aspect of the development, but they are using their skills to provide a more enhanced user experience, such as eliminating scrolling functions to make selection easier.

Jason Smith, left, Andrew Lopez, center, and Celeste Ramirez are some of the Florida Polytechnic University seniors who have been working on OiGO, an app designed to help those with brain-based language impediments communicate with family, friends, care givers, and health professionals.

“The whole focus is to make the user experience very friendly and very easy because it’s supposed to be helping people,” said Andrew Lopez, a senior from Valrico, Florida, majoring in computer science.

Thanks to the students’ work, the OiGO app became fully functional recently and entered its alpha testing phase. This will enable ACT to gather feedback from users to gauge the app’s functionality and go over the results with the students.

“I’m thrilled with what the students have done so far,” said Fernandez. “This is our passion and it’s something we really think is going to make a difference in the world.”

The group of students also includes Duniel Garcia (senior, Tampa, Florida, computer science), Jonathan Nguyen (senior, Windermere, Florida, computer science and information technology), Celeste Ramirez (senior, Eustis, Florida, computer science), and Jason Smith (senior, Jupiter, Florida, computer science.)