University App Studio launches latest collaboration
Allen Copley, Director of Crystal Clear Management Systems, a business and management consultancy based in Pontefract, approached the App Studio to help his company to develop an app, ‘Audit4’, which could be used by those responsible for stocking and maintaining vending machines.
Currently data gathered is not consistent or sufficiently reliable, so the idea was to create an app that guides people through an auditing process. Through the App Studio, the development gained part-funding from the Yorkshire Innovation Fund, with the remainder being funded by Crystal Clear. The app is now ready for showcasing and will be promoted to vending machine manufacturers and suppliers at Avex International.
Patrick Ingham, Lead Developer within the App Studio, explained: “The App Studio at Leeds Beckett is a commercial enterprise staffed by academics and students. It has been supporting businesses since 2011. The Studio provides students with valuable employability skills and places them on real life projects. With access to a variety of skills and expertise across our faculty we are able to quickly test ideas and new technologies and incorporate them into commercial products. The current Audit4 app is a great example of the work that we can do.”
The App Studio is based within the New Technology Institute (NTI) which is part of the School of Computing, Creative Technologies and Engineering. It is run by two members of academic staff, Patrick Ingham and Bal Singh, supported by students undertaking work placement years at the University. This year, the students working in the studio are BSc (Hons) Games Design student, James Fenwick, and BSc (Hons) Computing student, Bradley Dobson. Students in the past have used it as a stepping stone into software development based jobs upon graduation.
Speaking about Audit4, student James Fenwick commented: “Many companies complete audits on a printed out spreadsheet, and then input the data when they return to the office. From there they analyse the data and see if any areas need corrective actions or if they are reaching their company goals. The app we have developed makes this process a whole lot simpler. Companies can download templates (a unique feature to this app compared to its competitors) and then complete an audit on a mobile device. The data can then be uploaded to the web where several easy-to-understand reports can be viewed. Although initially for vending, the app and accompanying website now allow for a range of audit types such as Staff Assessments and Warehouse Inspections.”
Bradley Dobson added: “I think the project has helped me in terms of my university course because I have had to improve current skill sets and learn new skills that are all very relevant in the software and web development industry. Going into my third year I think I will be a lot more capable of achieving the grades I want and this project has given me a few ideas of what I can do as a final year project.”
Allen Copley said: “It has been a real revelation and a pleasure working on the project with Patrick at the NTI and undergraduates, Brad and James. They have worked tirelessly to meet a very tight deadline and to ensure all the functions required for the app actually work. Being an absolute layman when it comes to digital technology, they have also been at pains to ensure I have understood the processes involved every step of the way.
“The next step is to test the app with end users and Allen has begun trialling the app with some of his clients, and hopes to get more clients on-board at the trade show in Manchester at the end of the month. It is early days yet but we already have clients who are raving about the app and we hope and believe it will be very successful. This is the beginning of a journey and I sincerely hope that our association with Leeds Beckett University carries on long into the future.”