Are mental health apps actually effective?

Despite their claims of treating mental illness, a new study found that these apps are ineffective

A new study found that mental health apps do not live up to their claims of treating mental health disorders. Many app users and psychologists agree that mental health apps are not effective as a sole treatment method.

 The study, conducted by researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and led by Dr. Simon B. Goldberg, a professor in the Department of Counseling Psychology, “failed to find convincing evidence” that mental health smartphone apps effectively treat symptoms of mental illness. 

The research was a meta-analysis of existing studies: of 145 controlled trials, researchers attempted to find an overall consensus on the actual efficacy of mental health apps, ultimately discovering contradictory and inconsistent results.

Apps based on cognitive behavioural therapy, meditation, and smoking cessation that were designed to treat all types of mental health disorders were included in the studies researched. 

 The Concordian spoke with Casey Dillon, a communications director that has first-hand experience with mental health apps. Dillon has struggled with anxiety and depression for over 15 years, and she downloaded the CBT Thought Diary app after her therapist recommended it. 

Although skeptical and resistant at first, Dillon began using the app with the hopes of finding a new and more effective stress management tool. 

 “I’ve tried different medications, I’ve tried different therapists, I’ve tried paper journals and mood trackers,” Dillon said. “I’m always looking for something that works.”

Dillon used the app consistently for approximately one month, but her interest in the app slowly started to fade as time progressed. After another six months of occasional use, Dillon deleted the app. “It’s hard to stay consistent and have the time to write out your feelings every day,” Dillon said.  

 The CBT Thought Diary app encourages users to identify their emotions and type out their feelings throughout the day. The app’s concept, which is based on cognitive behavioural therapy, was helpful for Dillon to a certain degree. 

“Seeing your thoughts and your feelings in writing almost minimizes your problem. Now I can see it and think about it more objectively,” she said. “But at the same time, I spent more time thinking about what was upsetting me, which made me more upset.”

  Psychotherapist and counsellor Caroline Crotty acknowledged that cognitive behavioural therapy apps “may reinforce negative outlooks or viewpoints.” 

Crotty said therapists are important in intervening and assuring their clients are on the right track, something an app doesn’t do adequately. “There’s no one to challenge them about their feelings and saying hang on a second, you need to re-think that,” she added.

 After trying multiple mental health apps, Dillon concluded that apps could not replace therapy and the human connections that come with it. 

“Once you find a therapist you are compatible with, there’s nothing like a neutral person I can talk and vent to,” Dillon said. “I think these apps are a great supplement, but not more than that.”

 Crotty said that “apps work very well alongside talking therapies.” Crotty said she recommends the apps because they are easy to use and accessible. 

“You don’t have to leave home, you don’t have to worry about commuting or parking difficulties, there is no traffic, and unlike a therapist, it is there whenever you need it,” Crotty said. 

She adds that therapists aren’t with their clients every day, which is where the app becomes helpful, “I definitely recommend them to people. I think they are a brilliant way of keeping track of day-to-day feelings and emotions.”

 Although the study did not find “convincing evidence” of apps treating mental health disorders, mental health apps can help alleviate symptoms of anxiety, depression, stress and smoking/drinking. Despite the improvement of symptoms, the study notes that mental health apps rarely outperform traditional treatment methods. 

 Crotty said she believes mental health apps will become more effective as they evolve. According to Crotty, software developers are working on integrating artificial intelligence into the apps. 

“The human touch will always be important, but I do think apps will play an absolutely huge role in the provision of healthcare and emotional support going forward,” Crotty said.


Photo by: Cassidy Dora


Concordia masters student develops new fitness app

Negar Haghbin’s fitness app uses push notifications for motivation

If you’re struggling to stick to a fitness routine, you’re not alone.  

Social distancing protocol and the closure of most physical fitness centres have made it harder to exercise effectively. To be stuck at home for most of the day has made finding motivation to work out more challenging than ever.

While some athletes are self-driven and autonomous when it comes to their health, many people find motivation in comradery. Whether fitness means going to a group yoga class, working out in a public gym, or playing basketball at a recreational centre, it is generally made easier when in the presence of others.

A recently developed iOS fitness app aims to make the most of technology in modern devices by sending daily context-aware push notifications to users to assist them in meeting their fitness goals.

I interviewed Negar Haghbin, a master’s student in computer science at the Applied Perception Lab at Concordia who developed and designed the fitness app. She goes into detail on the app and its intricacies, when and how the idea came about, and how COVID-19 influenced her work.

Liam Sharp (LS): What inspired you to design a fitness app?

Negar Haghbin (NH): At the Applied Perception Lab, we mostly deal with health-related projects. Mobile push notifications are an important technology when it comes to that because they serve as great reminders. For example, elderly people who take prescribed medicine can use push notifications to reliably remind them of their daily routines. While that aspect was studied heavily, there was a grey area in our research with push notifications as it pertained to fitness, so that’s how the idea really came about.

LS: Can you describe the application? What makes it unique?

NH: We conducted a survey at Concordia on push notification preferences that got over 100 participants. Based on the results, we created the iOS fitness application that sends three types of daily push notifications. The first type is based on the user’s location, the second is based on a predetermined time set by the user, and the third is based on the user’s level of activity for the day.

The app has numerous other functionalities, like offering different types of workouts in the database that users can customize to their desires. A diary section allows for users to list workouts done within the application or separately. Finally, by completing workouts, users can progress towards badges and achievements that serve as rewards to add motivation.

LS: Did this idea come to life with the pandemic? What impact do you think COVID-19 will have on it?

NH: I started the project around October 2019, so it’s been a little over a year. I believe COVID-19 will make the application more prevalent with people being restricted to their homes and having limited access to equipment. But I can’t say COVID-19 inspired me to develop the app because at the time, the virus was not yet a global situation.

LS: Who is the application designed for?

NH: There isn’t a specific target audience. Anyone can use the app as long as they are willing to work out regularly. Building the habit will take time as previous research has indicated it takes about 10 weeks to fully develop autonomy. The truth is that the workouts are designed so that anyone at any fitness level can use the application for its intelligent reminders and/or the routines.

LS: Is the app available for download as of right now? 

NH: Currently, it’s not available on the App Store because it is still in the research phase and we haven’t used the Apple server to collect data from user’s phones. Instead, we get participants in our study to send screenshots at the end of the research period and they fill out a questionnaire that ultimately figures out if the user successfully developed a daily workout habit while using the application. As of right now, it’s not available, but who knows for the future.

LS: How can people participate in the project? 

NH: We’re always looking for participants for the long version of the user study, so if people are willing to help, they can learn more on the application and how to apply at the AP Lab website.


If you’re interested in participating in the study, send an email to for more information.


Graphic by Rose-Marie Dion

Student Life

Not all superheroes wear capes

An increasing number of grocers have taken to offering online ordering services.

The consumer can add food items to their cart, and either pick it up in store or have it delivered at a cost. But what if you could do this and contribute to eliminating waste at the same time?

Montreal-based startup FoodHero offers a virtual market, allowing merchants to sell food that would have otherwise ended up in the garbage – products that are still consumable. But FoodHero is not a food company.

“We are actually a technology company,” said Alexandria Laflamme, a FoodHero representative. “We developed an application with the primary goal to counter food waste.”

It is no secret that many food merchants dispose of food items that are still good. As per Second Harvest’s 2019 The Avoidable Crisis of Food Waste report, nearly 60 per cent of food produced in Canada is wasted annually. In fact, Canada is among the top emitters where food waste is concerned. According to the Barilla Center for Food & Nutrition’s (BCFN) 2018 Food Sustainability Index, Canada ranks fifth for overall food loss and waste.

“Our interface gives the consumer a chance to go give a second life to these products,” said Laflamme, adding that the products are offered at 25 to 60 per cent off their original price. Customers can search for products by store proximity and filter through food categories, allowing for them to shop accordingly to their diet, whether it be vegetarian, lactose-free, Halal or Kosher.

“Consumers are always thinking ‘oh, I don’t know what I can do,’ but FoodHero gives them the power to do something,” said Laflamme. “We act as an intermediary agent between the consumer and the merchant, and use technology to give them power.” She added that this technological aspect allows for their collaborators to still feel as though they are in charge and contributing to the issue at hand.

Being primarily a tech company, FoodHero worked on an algorithm within the application that allows the consumer to see the amount of emissions that were prevented through their cumulative orders and the kilograms of food waste saved. “The consumer can actually see their impact,” explained Laflamme. “This allows for them to make sense of what they are doing.”

FoodHero’s primary mission is to reduce food waste in grocery stores, which is currently at around 40 per cent worldwide, according to Laflamme and statistics found on the FoodHero website.

“Our goal is to work with many agents in the food industry,” said Laflamme, referring to producers and distributors. “Currently, we work only with grocery stores, which, in itself, is already a place where there is a huge amount of waste.”

“We are starting off. The statistics are still being accumulated but we are growing,” said Laflamme. “We started off collaborating with one IGA, three months ago, then six, and currently, we have over 100 IGA stores on board and are approaching the 200 mark.”

While the app has only been active for six months, the company has grown exponentially since their debut over the summer, due to a business model developed by the FoodHero team over the course of two years, and will soon be expanding to include Metro grocers.

“It was a very well thought out prototype,” said Laflamme. “It was thoroughly tested because it is a complex idea. Because of this, we are working well, and growing quickly.”

However, FoodHero is not the only player in the game. Flashfood, a similar app by Loblaw Companies Ltd., is currently partnered with 139 Maxi and Provigo locations throughout Quebec.

But what change does FoodHero hope to contribute to the overall problem? “Our objective is to have all our collaborating merchants be zero food waste by 2025,” said Laflamme.

While there is still a lot of work to be done in regards to waste in the food industry, Laflamme  said that it is the everyday details, like shopping apps, that will contribute to making a change.

“It’s small steps that will allow for us to have a real impact,” said Laflamme.

More information about FoodHero can be found on their website Their app is available on the App Store and Google Play. 


Graphic by @sundaeghost

Student Life

Today, we practice #SelfCare with TRU LUV

Meet the dynamic duo spearheading unconventional app industries

We scroll through social media and often don’t consider that we’re experiencing a kaleidoscope of emotions simultaneously. “You’re [online] for ten minutes and you already have forty emotions,” said Eve Thomas, a Concordia communications and journalism graduate. “You can be angry, and frightened, and jealous, and hungry all at once.”

“We definitely made [#SelfCare] because we needed it,” said Code (right). Photo courtesy of the interviewees.
Brie Code, former Artificial Intelligence (AI) lead with Ubisoft Montreal and founder of the company TRU LUV, partnered with Thomas to release the company’s first app, #SelfCare. “For me, [the app] is to help people renegotiate their relationships with their phones,” said Thomas.

#SelfCare is a game-type of app where users maintain their avatar’s well-being by carrying out everyday tasks, such as sorting laundry, tending to your plants, and petting the avatar-kitty (which purrs in response). “In this universe, our goal is simply to feel better. There’s no winning, no failure, no score. No difficulty, no ads, no notifications. There is just us and our feelings,” reads the #SelfCare app description. The more tasks you complete, the more your avatar’s mood balances out; there are no penalties for neglecting to play the game, which is what makes the app unique. You can also be guided through breathing exercises, daily Tarot card readings, and even play a simple word jumble or plant-watering game.

Thomas and Code met about three years ago when Thomas, a magazine editor at the time, wanted to profile Code for an article. Code revealed during their interview that she had plans to quit her job to make games for people who don’t like games.

“I was growing increasingly frustrated with what the industry was making,” Code said, referring to “[shooting] and other fighting games.” She also explained that puzzle games can be boring and often leave her feeling more stressed than when she started playing them. Thus, a beautiful partnership blossomed into a transnational collaboration, with four other core members throughout Europe and Africa.

You can also be guided through breathing exercises, daily Tarot card readings, and even play a simple word jumble or plant-watering game. Image courtesy of the interviewees.

Most conventional gaming and social media apps are designed to keep users locked in for as long as possible. As users, we’re either incessantly scrolling, resisting the urge to check our phone or trying a digital detox. “We’re very feast or famine,” said Thomas. We’re not good at moderation, or respectively limiting our social media intake, she explained. Thomas added that, “if you’re on call, which a lot of jobs are now, […] you don’t have the luxury of turning off your phone.” This is a large part of why she and Code made the app the way it is. Both saw the need to renegotiate a way to open up your phone, and maybe click on a different app—one that you exit feeling calm and relaxed.

Both Code and Thomas actively use their app. “We definitely made [#SelfCare] because we needed it,” said Code. “And I’m finding that I’m not using any other of the mobile games I used to turn to when I had a twinge of anxiety.” Thomas also explained to me that, particularly during the game’s beta testing and prototype development, an understandably stressful period, she was used the app as one of her coping mechanisms.

Code and Thomas both spoke of the pushback #SelfCare received from incumbent members of the conventional gaming industry due to their unconventional app structure. “They told us that this would fail,” said Code. “We’ve also been told that […] what we made is too feminine [and] that it’s not worth making products for women because [they] are too unpredictable.” Despite these sexist comments and being largely self-funded, the app is succeeding and has received more than 500 thousand downloads in only six weeks. “The day I read the review that said ‘thank you for this app. I can tell it will change my life,’” said Code, “I knew that all the risk [we’d] taken on committing to this project was worth it.”

You can download TRU LUV #SelfCare in the App Store and Google Play right now! Check out their website:

Feature image courtesy of the interviewees.


Concordia app: Cost unknown

University’s mobile tool gives access to shuttle bus schedules, directories and more

Concordia’s administration is keeping silent on the cost of its new mobile app. When The Concordian asked about it, the university responded that the “cost for licensing the app was minimal.”  

The app, which was released in August, has already been downloaded more than 1,000 times. It provides students with information about shuttle bus schedules, food around campus, health and safety resources and other subjects.

The university also would not confirm if the cost was within the projected budget, where the funding came from, the cost of maintenance or the expected return on investment.

Version 1.4.0 of the app––its latest––allows the university to access the user’s approximate or precise location, depending on whether the phone is network-based or GPS-based. It can also read the photo, media and file content of the phone’s USB storage, according to Google Play.

According to university spokesperson Mary-Jo Barr, “all the work was and will continue to be done in-house.” In the same email, Barr wrote that “an analysis was made to learn which apps were offered to students by other universities and, within those offerings, which apps were used most often by students.”

Two universities in Quebec currently offer mobile applications to their students, namely Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières and McGill University. While it’s unknown how much Concordia spent to develop the app, Montreal-based Oohlala Mobile Inc. bidded $67,200 to acquire the contract to build McGill’s app, according to a public call for bids on Quebec’s Service électronique d’appel d’offre.

Oohlala Mobile has also developed apps for Rutgers and Seattle University as well as Harvard Law School.

Barr said in early 2017, consultations were held with various university offices and departments, including Student Services Departments, Library and Services and various faculties, to determine what information should be included in the app. The app was then tested for feedback by 180 students during fall orientation.

According to Barr, Concordia will continue to expand and improve the app according to user feedback.

“As feedback comes in, the team will evaluate whether new features can and should be added, and how long it will take to do so,” Barr wrote.

The app currently has an average 3.8/5-star rating on Google Play, including 15 five-star ratings and six one-star ratings.

According to the university spokesperson, information about faculty, staff, alumni and recruitment “will likely be added” in future versions of the app.

Graphic by Zeze Le Lin

Student Life

Like online dating but for food

Concordia alumna launches free restaurant matchup app, Feed Me

Appealing or not? The decision can be made at the simple glance of a perfectly grilled avocado toast surrounded with fries. A swipe left and the dish disappears, and now a delectable sushi platter tempts you for lunch.

Searching for a nearby restaurant that suits your cravings and budget has just gotten easier and, frankly, more fun with Concordia alumna Amie Watson’s new app, Feed Me. The concept is similar to dating apps like Tinder. Rather than swipe left for a date, though, let Feed Me introduce you to a wide selection of restaurants, bars and cafés based on your indicated preferences.

“You open the app, and you will have more than 30 options in a four-block radius, but you can also plan for the weekend, look for a nice French restaurant,” Watson said about the app’s benefits. “[Feed Me] helped me discover restaurants in places I already lived.”

Watson is a freelance journalist based in Montreal who has contributed to outlets such as the Montreal Gazette, National Post, MaTV and Global TV. She graduated from Concordia University with a graduate degree in journalism in 2015. Originally from St-John’s, N.L., Watson moved to Toronto to earn her undergraduate degree in classical percussions at the University of Toronto. It was also in Toronto that she developed a passion for world cuisines while reading food reviews by Steven Davey—a food critic and musician in the city’s Queen West scene—in Now Magazine. “I hadn’t had much money, but once a week I would take myself out for lunch at one of his top cheap-eat places,” Watson said.

Amie Watson scrolls through some photos of nearby restaurants on the Feed Me app. Photos by Elisa Barbier

After a while, she decided to learn the recipes she was enjoying so much and began to appreciate the traditions and history behind them. When Watson moved to Montreal, she was exposed to new types of cuisines that were not as predominant in Toronto. “Tunisian, French Caribbean, Ghanaian [cuisines]—I was able to find and cook new recipes,” she said.

On her path to become Montreal’s Steven Davey, Watson worked as the food editor at Midnight Poutine—a local food, indie music, fashion and arts blog—for several years, and eventually ended up doing work for their weekend podcast. “It was then that I realized I was way more into freelance food writing than into my classical percussion master’s,” she said.

In 2011, Watson launched her blog,, to write restaurant and meal reviews and share healthy recipes. As she delved further into the food writing world, she developed an intolerance to lactose and gluten. Nonetheless, this did not prevent her from keeping at her passion. “I have recipes full of bread on [my blog],” she said as she discussed her love of baked goods.

Three years later, Watson participated in a Yelp Hackathon—a two-day event during which teams have to come up with a useful, funny or cool project that uses Yelp interface. This is where the Feed Me app was conceptualized.

“I wanted to write about all these restaurants, and I wanted somewhere to put it,” she said. The Yelp Hackathon provided participating teams access to its accumulated data about locations, trends and reviews, and Watson’s team came up with a project that improves existing restaurant apps.

When conceptualizing the app, Watson said it was important for her to have all the information—the reviews, the photos, the addresses—all in one place with an easy and simple interface, similar to Tinder. “When I first used Tinder, I thought it was fun. You get sucked in easily, kind of like a game,” she said.

Feed Me gathers reviews from restaurants in over 30 countries thanks to Yelp’s interface. Reviews and pictures of the restaurants are not selected by the establishments themselves but rather by the clients who have posted their own reviews on Yelp. “It is awesome because when you are travelling you can use it wherever you go,” Watson said. Montrealers have the added benefit of Watson’s own local reviews appearing on the app.

Some of Feed Me’s interesting features are the categories that a user can choose from to narrow down their search—everything from world cuisine, TGIF and vegetarian, to business dinners, sweet treats and even safe break-up venues. (A “safe break-up venue,” for example, includes at least one of the following elements: a back door, an affordable menu if one needs to pay for themselves or a not-so fancy ambiance.)

Watson decided the project was worth pursuing since it was a finalist at the hackathon, and she funded it herself. “I had money I could have responsibly put aside or put it into a passion project, so I put it into the passion project,” she said.

However, after a failed first attempt, Watson was told by user experience specialists that she had to redevelop the app. “I needed a new team, more money and strong business plans to get the loans I assumed I would need,” she said.

With the help of Yes Montreal—a Quebec-based organization that helps people find jobs and start or grow their business—she created a business plan and was able to get loans from Futurpreneur and Canada’s Business Development Bank.

Due to many obstacles, it took four years for Feed Me to go from being a concept to a final product, available in the Apple and Android app stores since August. Watson said she felt that Feed Me was what she needed to create, that no obstacles would make her back down. “There are moments when you are frustrated, irritated and you don’t think about it for a day,” she said. “[But then the passion for it] just creeps back into your mind.”

According to Watson, the app reached 12,000 downloads in its first three weeks and received positive feedback. Its success comes from being financially responsible, she said. “I am not just throwing money at this and crossing my fingers,” she explained, adding that mentors, financial guidance and business plans, along with the mindset of a responsible business owner, are all key to becoming successful.

Feed Me has many plans going forward, including offering discounts for restaurants and creating partnerships with food festivals. Currently, it offers a monthly give-away of $50. Users who share the app with their friends are automatically be entered in the draw when their friend downloads the app from the reference link.

“I want Feed Me to be the go-to restaurant search app, for it to be number one in the world, but in Canada first,” Watson said.

Ar(t)chives Student Life

Selling textbooks without the hassle of the haggle

Three McGill graduates soon to launch a textbook-selling app for Concordia and McGill

As the new semester rolls in, so does a new textbook-exchanging app. Venndor, founded by recent McGill graduates Anthony Heinrich, Julien Marlatt and Tynan Davis, is a classifieds app with the goal of helping students buy and sell textbooks without the need for haggling or negotiating prices.

The beta app, also known as the first version of the app, has been live for two months at McGill.  This period permitted the founders to see how people were using the app and make any necessary changes before officially launching it at both McGill and Concordia. In the time of the beta launch, the app helped students sell textbooks, but also household items such as lamps and furniture. The app will officially launch for McGill and Concordia in mid-January.

The idea started over a year ago when co-founders Heinrich and Marlatt were frustrated because they were having trouble getting a good price for textbooks they wanted to sell. “People would just negotiate with you and haggle with you back and forth on Facebook postings. It was frustrating because it would lead to a lot of wasted of time and it wasn’t enjoyable,” said Heinrich. The app started as a business class subject. The teammates thought about a concept where the buyer offers a price without being given a starting price by the seller. They liked the idea of the final selling price being the middle ground between what the buyer offered and the price the seller initially had in mind. Heinrich gave the example of wanting to sell a phone for a minimum of $20. If the buyer offers $40 upfront, then the final selling price would be $30 if they were using the Venndor app.

This idea inspired the app’s name. Venndor comes from the term Venn diagram—a diagram of two circles overlapping to create a smaller ovalish shape in the middle of the two. The selling price of the textbook is therefore the middle ground, or the middle area of the Venn diagram.

Graphic by Florence Yee

The app includes a bookmark page that acts as a kind of ‘buy later’ section for undecided students. There is also an instant messaging page for buyers and sellers to correspond and arrange a meeting time and place. Instant messaging ensures that students don’t necessarily have to give any of their personal information to purchase textbooks.

In the fall of 2015, after Heinrich and his teammates got good feedback from their professor for their app idea in a class project, the students decided to enter the McGill Dobson Cup, McGill’s annual startup competition.

“We made it to the semi-finals. The judges weren’t really into it but we decided to go after the idea anyway,” said Heinrich. Then, the students got accepted into the 2016 McGill Summer X-1 Accelerator program, an intensive 10-week summer program that helps students create their startup ideas through training programs and seminars. “The entire thing was a huge learning experience,” said Heinrich.

Heinrich said this year’s focus will be observing how students use the app, in order to start planning any changes to the version of the app launching soon.

Student Life

Let Wordlink become your world link for viral content

We all know how quickly news spread these days, how content can go viral in a matter of seconds. We all have our regular sites that we periodically (or obsessively, as the case may be) check in to in order to keep updated on the latest news stories, events, trends, gossip etc. But how can one possibly stay au courrant on ALL the important stories of the moment, from across all sorts of media? Up until now, the prospect has seemed daunting if not completely impossible.

Enter Wordlink – a new startup company that has developed an app that helps you keep track of all the viral content on the world wide web. The app scans the viral headlines of the day from tens of thousands of sources, ranked by their activity on all social networks, and feeds them back to you on one clean interface. The stories you get are purely representational of the most commented on / viewed/ clicked-on / tweeted about / shared items from around the world. This makes for a news feed that is free from editorialization — a freedom that one can rarely find these days.

Sources include everything from The New York Times, to The Huffington Post, to Buzzfeed, to lil old us here at The Concordian.  Wordlink crowdsources and data-mines viral content from all the major social media platforms to deliver content that is relevant to what people are talking about.

The app lets you filter the content you receive by building a “Favourites” list of all your go-to sources, or allows you to sift through all their partners’ headlines by category. They seem to have every category imaginable: Press, Research, Social, Arts, Business, Sports, Health… the interface reads like the world’s most comprehensive news site. There’s even an icon that lets you view the picture-heavy dashboard icons (being the links to stories that you can follow) as a more traditional layout, with news columns that allow you to read the story’s first sentence before clicking.

Once inside a source search or content category, you can then personalize your feed even further by choosing to see the viral headlines of the day, week, month, or year – making it easy to go back and look at the most important moments of recent history.

The app was created by four Montrealers, Nadav Perez, Allan Morais, Charles Taylor, and Rodrigo Vergara, all of whom are Concordia alum. The company still has strong ties with the current generation of Concordians as well, as most of their interns are Concordia students.

The Wordlink team will be coming to our campus during the first week of classes in order to promote their app to students.

Wordlink has already received some pretty impressive accolades – they were chosen as the winners of the Cossette Agency Lab’s startup competition for new businesses. Cossette is an International digital marketing agency, and their lab aims to help startups find their footing, and allows them to benefit from a mentorship program at the Agency.

You can check out the Wordlink interface at or download it from the App Store. It’s a free download, so it doesn’t seem like there’s anything to lose by trying it out!


How do you get around? Concordia researchers want to know

How do you get to Concordia? Whether you’re a student, faculty or staff member, Zachary Patterson, assistant professor in Concordia’s department of geography, planning and environment, wants to know. And he’s introduced an app to figure it out.

Photo provided by Concordia University

Christened DataMobile, this app developed by undergraduate software engineering student Robson Razafindramary is designed to collect information about a person’s commute to and from Concordia.

“There’s two parts: when you open the app, there’s a survey and you’re asked about your trip to Concordia, what campus you go to, by what mode you go, how often you go by that mode and if you use an alternate mode, which one you might use,” said Patterson.

This socio-demographic information is anonymous and it’s about the only part of the app that requires user participation. After the user has completed the survey, the app will run in the background, collecting information from the phone’s GPS about the users longitudinal and latitudinal positions, and uploads it when Wi-Fi becomes available.

“We can look at distance, we can get the speed they’re traveling at, we can get the modes, we can get a sense of what their trip itinerary looks like. Do people just go to campus and then go home or do they go many other places?” Patterson explained.

The information collected will be useful in determining travel behaviour and therefore give a better understanding of travel demand.

“Demand creates congestion and emissions and all the things that are bad about transportation. The idea typically in these surveys is [to look at] what the total demand is on the system that you have,” he said.

Patterson and his team are looking to recruit between 1,000 and 2,000 participants to use this app, which is why they’ve made the app to be as “hands-off” as possible. Other than the two minute survey after installation, users are not required to do anything. The app has been designed to not interfere with a user’s regular charging schedule. However, if you are an iOS user, you will have to manually sync the data every so often as Patterson’s team was unable to find a way for iPhone users to have their data sync automatically. It is Patterson’s hope that this app, because there is very little required by the user, will be more popular than its contemporaries.

For example, MIT has been conducting an app-based research project in Singapore and, according to Patterson, as of last year, they had only 75 participants.

“The idea is to get a little bit of information, let it run in the background and hopefully that will increase the participation rate,” he said.

The data retrieved from this app will also be beneficial for students, especially those concerned with sustainability.

“We could give an estimate of the total kilometres traveled on the roads of Montreal, relating to the people at Concordia, and that gives a sense of what our contribution is to congestion or emissions” added Patterson. “If you can use this information to better plan [public] transit, it will mean more people will use transit and fewer people will use their car.”

DataMobile is downloadable from the App Store or Google Play Store.

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