Car Seat Helper: Navigating the Complicated Space of Child Safety Seats

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MediaKube produces award-winning interactive digital media for companies including Whirlpool, Sony, KitchenAid, Pitney Bowes and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The company’s founder, Brian Berg, is a pioneer in the digital media field with over 20 years of experience designing interactive touch screen applications. Brian is also a national speaker and workshop instructor on the topic of mobile interface usability and user experience.

We interviewed Brian on his award-winning Car Seat Helper app, his experience working with Corona SDK and his views on the platform.

Can you please share some information about MediaKube with us?

MediaKube LLC has been in business for over a decade. By combining technology, design and education, MediaKube creates unique solutions for its clients that work intuitively, look amazing and clearly communicate a targeted message to the end user.

How did you come across Corona and why did you decide to use the platform for building Car Seat Helper?

In our early planning discussions with the Phoenix Children’s Hospital Injury Prevention Center about developing the Car Seat Helper app, they expressed a desire to deploy the app simultaneously for iPhone, iPad, and Android devices. Rather than developing two separate code bases for iOS and Android, which wouldn’t allow us to meet their timeframe or budget, we wanted to choose a development environment that enabled us to compile for multiple devices from one unified code base, without sacrificing design flexibility. In our research we found that Corona SDK gave us that capability, ultimately saving us development time that in turn allowed us to focus more effort on the app design and user experience.

Which Corona features did you find most helpful in your development?

One of the things we appreciated most about developing with Corona SDK was the fact it completely removed a layer of coding complexity, when compared to developing individual native apps for iOS and Android. We were able to develop a functional prototype very rapidly, allowing our client to touch and interact with the app much earlier in the development process. We also appreciated the power of the Corona simulator, which gave us the ability to quickly test and troubleshoot features without constantly recompiling.

Can you please share the inspiration behind Car Seat Helper as well as the functionality of the app?

Studies show that up to 80% of car seats are either incorrectly installed or are the wrong type of seat for the child. This puts children at risk of serious injury or even death. The free Car Seat Helper mobile app offers parents and caregivers an incredibly easy way to make sure they are putting their children in the proper car seat restraint. By answering a few simple questions about a child’s age, height and weight, the app recommends the most appropriate safety seat. It also provides installation videos and directions to the closest inspection station. Behind the scenes, the app chooses the correct seat using a custom algorithm we developed based on a very detailed set of specifications established by the American Academy of Pediatrics. The app literally provides parents with expert advice right at their fingertips.

Car Seat Helper has received an impressive array of awards and accolades since its launch. Can you share some of your proudest recognitions?

In addition to being named Corona’s App of the Week and App of the Month, the Car Seat Helper mobile app project has been honored with a prestigious Gold Aster Award for Healthcare Marketing. It received’s 2012 Reader’s Choice Award, and was a finalist for both the “Best Doing Good App” award in 2011 and the AZ Business Health Care Leadership award for Best Educational Program. The app was even featured in Baby Talk magazine’s 100 Innovative Ideas special issue.

Based on your experience, would you recommend Corona to developers looking to create a business or utility app?

Corona SDK is a great tool for any mobile developer to have in their arsenal, and we have found it can fit the needs of many business or utility-related apps that need to be deployed across multiple devices, to reach the widest possible audience. The key is to really take the time to learn where Corona’s strengths lie, and take full advantage of them.

How do you feel Corona stands out among the competition?

First, Corona’s active developer base offers both new and seasoned developers a wealth of information found in the discussion boards, sample code, and tutorial videos. Second, the easy to learn, yet powerful Lua language, allows for fast coding, but doesn’t compromise on the ability to fully customize an app. Thirdly, the ability to deploy across multiple devices was a key feature for our development.

We’re glad to hear you’ve had such a positive experience with Corona! What’s your next Corona-based project?

We are currently updating the Car Seat Helper app to include even more information, additional videos, support for the iPad’s retina display, and even a Spanish version. We are also excited to be working on several more health education mobile apps for Phoenix Children’s Hospital using Corona SDK that will be released in the coming months. We look forward to using Corona SDK for many more projects in the future that include features such as push notification and Facebook integration.
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