Limejar: Developing Software for Children with Autism

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    Software developer Debbie Craig has used her personal experience to develop a tablet based platform which has the potential to change the lives of children with autism. We caught up with Debbie to hear about her company Limejar and her new software solution, Boop.

    Background

    Autism is a lifelong developmental disability that affects how a person communicates with, and relates to, other people. It also affects how they make sense of the world around them.

    Six years ago my son Nicholas was diagnosed with autism, at the time I had just started my Computer Science degree at Queens University, Belfast.

    Over the next few years I worked hard to understand autism while trying to ensure Nicholas had the best start in life.

    We both grew in the understanding of autism together and alongside this firsthand experience of the condition I increased in my skills as a software developer.

    In my final year I had a revelation, it was my eureka moment.

    Limejar

    Limejar started life as a scheduling tool for us to stay in control of Nicholas’ day. As time went on, I saw more and more potential and I added interventions, handy features like mood charts and interactive educational games.

    Limejar is our parent brand that provides software solutions like Boop.

    Boop began when I combined the experience of daily life with Nicholas and autism and my newly developed skills in software development. It is a technology based solution to living and coping with autism. I realized Boop will not only work for my son but also for others like him. This was also a great opportunity for me to carve a path for my career in an area that I was not only was familiar with but one where I would be truly committed to making a difference.

    Since graduating, the last year has been full and very exciting year for me. In just 12months I have developed a fully working beta version of this new technology, raised 70k grant funding and just finished the Propel Programme, an intense accelerator of workshops and mentorship aimed at companies with huge global potential.

    The Propel Programme has been a fantastic experience, built my confidence and been the crucial step on the ladder that I needed. I honestly feel like I am ready to take on the world.

    Debbie's Son Nicholas

    Debbie's son Nicholas

    Currently

    A lot of things are going on at the moment. Alongside working on our brand image and developing the online world, we are currently running a successful pilot study using the funding received from the Invest NI Proof of Concept grant through TechStartNI.

    The pilot is taking place in two special educational needs schools within Northern Ireland and includes a number of children, each with different needs, their parents and their teachers. This will provide us with key insights and provide a strong foundation that will feed back into the software development process.

    The pilot study is the next big step and building on the findings and response will ensure Boop is the best it can be for the key audiences.

    Our aim is to position Boop as leading software in learning and living with autism, securing its place as ‘first to market’ and as a recognized and trusted brand within the Autism Community worldwide.

    Future

    The future of Limejar is also looking extremely good with many NI schools having already shown interest in coming on board with our vision and innovative products.

    We have had interest from places as far as the United Arab Emirates and Australia.

    Our focus right now is on getting the Boop product ready for a full commercial launch early in 2015.

    Follow at @_limejar

    This article features in the latest Sync NI magazine (winter '15 edition).  Sign up to receive your copy today!

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