GVSU group develops tool for children to earn screen time
Posted on July 06, 2017
A Grand Valley State University group has developed an app for a local entrepreneur that addresses a common concern among parents: the amount of time their children spend on electronics.
Grand Valley's applied Medical Devices Institute (aMDI) has developed Test 4 Time! (T4T), an app that makes children earn screen time on tablets and smartphones. T4T asks math questions for children in kindergarten through sixth grade. If they answer the questions correctly, they get the time.
"The app addresses a difficult challenge all parents have and allows parents to manage their child's time on a device while making the experience fun, educational and challenging," said Brent Nowak, executive director of aMDI.
The idea for the app came from its inventor and founder Tim Smock, from Forest Hills, six years ago when his 7-year-old son asked to play video games every day.
"I would write down 20 math questions and told him if he answered them, he could have one hour on the Wii," he said. "I wondered if this process could be automated and came up with the idea for Test 4 Time."
He filed for a provisional patent in August 2011 and began exploring development options.
Smock worked in 2016 with students from Grand Valley's School of Computing and Information Systems to build a prototype of the app. Earlier this year, he came to aMDI to bring the app to market. John Doneth, a computer science major from Ada, was hired by aMDI in February to help write code and design the app.
Nowak said in six months aMDI created a full development program for T4T, from market study to product testing to launch.
"The aMDI team, which includes students and staff members, demonstrated that we can work at the pace of industry to launch a product to industry standards," Nowak said.
Smock said he's enjoyed working with aMDI. “The value and professionalism are exemplary, and we are very excited by the early enthusiasm for this app from parents and teachers," Smock said.
Nowak said the next step is to develop a hardware device with the T4T software that requires children to earn time on the TV and video game consoles.
The project was funded in part by the State of Michigan’s Small Company Innovation Program/Technology Commercialization Assistance program. Learn more at www.test4time.com.
The applied Medical Devices Institute (aMDI), located on Medical Mile in the Cook-DeVos Center for Health Sciences on Grand Valley's Pew Grand Rapids Campus, is a first of its kind in West Michigan. It provides access to researchers, engineers, medical professionals, and business and entrepreneurial professionals. It uses an integrated approach that includes intellectual property, business review and mentoring. The center was established in 2016.