By Mica Bernhard
With the rallying slogan, “Teams are Seeking Technologists!” the first annual UCLA ‘Code for the Mission’ App Competition recently announced the three group winners on September 17th, one of which being LCHS’ own William Fu, Albert Zhai, Phillipp Wu, Alex Zhao, and Suraj Patel for their app, uHearingTest, an assessment tool to help users find their level of hearing sensitivity.
The competition offered three different categories, each in relation to UCLA’s three tiered mission of Research (“Exploring the Liberal Arts in the Digital Age”), Education (“Closing the US Educational Gap”), and Service (“Tackling the Big Health Problems”). The LCHS team competed in the Service category, entering an app that aimed to bring convenient medical access to a wide range of users.
Over the summer, Captain William Fu, an LCHS junior, led his team through the process of formulating, coding, and marketing their app.
“The app works by playing the frequencies tested,” William explained, “and through an algorithm that uses ‘reversals,’ the test identifies your hearing thresholds.”
These “thresholds” involve six pure tones at different frequencies, ranging from 250 to 8k, that are all measured adaptively. The app then compares a user’s individual Hearing Level (or HL) to a normal HL.
The actual hearing test can even be made faster (two minutes) or slower (five to six minutes) to add to the overall conveniency of the app, although taking a faster test will not produce as accurate results as the slower version.
Another feature of uHearingTest allows users to undergo a hearing loss simulation, in which you can compare how a person with normal hearing would hear a piece of music as opposed to how you would actually hear the music.
In the process of creating the app, William, being a self-taught coder, took on the programming aspects, while Albert, Alex, Phillipp, and Suraj worked on the graphics, writing, aesthetics, and more.
For William, the most rewarding part of the entire process was the group achievement as a whole.
“We basically proved to ourselves that even high school students could make something that works,” he said, “especially since we had a team of one junior, two seniors, and two sophomores.”
The satisfaction of creating an app that could rival the work of a professional was not the only prize; the team also received $5,000, which the members plan to divvy up, donate a portion to their UCLA assistant Mike Sachs, and fund the creation of more apps.
uHearingTest, available in the Apple App Store, is just the beginning for each of these five brilliant individuals, as they set out on their careers as students, far advanced beyond their time.
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