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UMaine New Media seniors develop novel tools tackling stress, COVID-19 lifestyle

Published: Dec. 15, 2020 at 6:46 PM EST
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BANGOR, Maine (WABI) - The stress of COVID-19 and other obstacles of everyday life have prompted a few UMaine seniors to develop new apps and activities to cope. As part of the New Media program the students are using new technologies to help us all adapt.

”New Media are expressive technologies that connect people, using things like digital computing and the internet,” says Professor of New Media Jon Ippolito.

Using a variety of modern audiovisual and interactive technologies these students have crafted tools that can make a positive impact.

“At a time when we can’t see each other face-to-face and go about or normal lives, it can be hard to feel connected to other people. We spend more time on a screen than we do talking to our neighbors or our family maybe. But, we can also turn that on its head and make apps and other digital innovations that help us connect to other people during this difficult time,” says Ippolito.

These tools can help users destress, learn new hobbies, entertain themselves and perform tasks made more difficult by the pandemic.

Senior John Baker is developing a website to improve professor and student interactivity. He says, “Mostly for the benefit of engaging with students, getting to know students a little bit better, especially in a time where it seems like that’s a big problem.”

Called Professorly, the website will help match students to classes that match their interests and allow professors to showcase their courses.

Senior Claudio Van Duijn is solving everyone’s landscaping problems with his app AR Gardens. He says, “It allows you to look through your phone’s camera and design gardens for your home.”

You can place 3D digital plants in your yard or in planters for a visual and then purchase those plants and items through the app. Van Duijn says, “The idea was to create an app that would be fun for the user. It would allow them to get out doors with their family.”

“These are people who are not content to just write papers and check boxes. They actually want to make things and it’s really exciting to see them do that,” says Ippolito.

With the help of well-earned grants, students like Baker and Van Duijn will be able to fully develop their tech and present it at the Student Symposium in April.

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