Among the engineers, designers, and creators of groundbreaking apps and games who are attending Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference this year, there is one especially promising group: the 350 winners of the Swift Student Challenge.
Each created an original Swift playground demonstrating their impressive coding and problem-solving skills. We spoke to a few about their creations, what inspired them, and the tech trends they’re most excited about.
Winning Swift playground: Girl Guard aims to reduce sexual harassment by letting women start a fake phone conversation when they’re traveling alone in a taxi or on public transportation.
Inspiration: To help to reduce sexual harassment incidents by making women feel more confident about asking for help and protecting themselves
How she learned to code: School classes and young developer camp
Tech trend she’s most excited about: Data science
Hometown: Moscow, Russia
Winning Swift playground: ARTificial turns photos into paintings in the style of great artists.
Inspiration: “My wife and I adore art, especially paintings,” says Tkachenko. “I wanted to give people an opportunity to not only admire masterpieces from home, but see the beauty in simple things like the view from their apartment.”
How he learned to code: Internet research and computer science classes in college
Tech trend he’s most excited about: Reducing digital pollution; AR and VR
In many parts of Nigeria as well as other parts in the world, dyslexia is highly stigmatized, and students with dyslexia are not given the proper accommodations for their success. This project is able to provide students with dyslexia a convenient and efficient way to develop their reading skills.
Hometown: Woodbridge, Virginia
Winning Swift playground: Drawing on research on how videogames can help students with dyslexia improve their reading, Vision simulates a fast-paced game environment while honing users’ spelling, letter recognition, and other reading skills.
Inspiration: “I wanted to provide students with dyslexia a convenient, accessible, and efficient way to develop their reading skills as well as simulations and data that can help decrease the stigmatization of dyslexia worldwide,” says Awofisayo.
How she learned to code: High school classes, Kode With Klossy, and hackathons
Tech trend she’s most excited about: Increased use of computer vision and hand gestures to control our devices
Mehmet Bertan Tarakçıoğlu
Hometown: Ankara, Turkey
Winning Swift playground: The ADHD Exploration uses a 15-question personality test to tailor advice on managing ADHD symptoms to each user.
Inspiration: “I wanted to explore the correlation between ADHD symptoms and personality after a friend with ADHD shared how difficult it’s been to focus during the pandemic. We cannot expect our experience with ADHD to be the same.”
How he learned to code: Blogs, books, YouTube tutorials, and online forums
Tech trend he’s most excited about: “The processors in our devices getting smaller and more efficient. The fact that both the new iPad Pro and the new iMac use the M1 processor and are almost equally as powerful is just mind-blowing.”
Hometown: Oakland, California
Winning Swift playground: America’s Broken Food System, a series of interactive infographics addressing food insecurity
Inspiration: “The racial awakening over the summer has sparked an avalanche of social-justice-charged conversations, where the use of content-heavy infographics has garnered widespread attention,” says Yan. “I wanted to create an interactive version of these infographics to address an issue I’m particularly passionate about.”
How she learned to code: Local community college and YouTube tutorials
Tech trend she’s most excited about: “A bigger emphasis on social justice in technology, inspired by the newfound need for equity.”
I am very interested in artificial intelligence and how computers can help people in our daily tasks. Artificial intelligence can generate a positive impact in our society, from accessibility improvements to general well-being.
Hometown: Recife, Brazil
Winning Swift playground: Using physics simulations, Aeronaut shows how hot-air balloons navigate using just the wind.
Inspiration: “The idea for my playground came from a misconception I had for a long time. I thought that hot-air balloons could only go up or down, with no steering capability at all; but I recently discovered that balloonists take advantage of wind currents at different altitudes to steer the balloon where they intend to go.”
How he learned to code: A free online course at Stanford University
Tech trend he’s most excited about: “I am very interested in artificial intelligence and how computers can help people in our daily tasks. Artificial intelligence can generate a positive impact in our society, from accessibility improvements to general well-being.”
Hometown: Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
Winning Swift playground: Note Values teaches the basics of note values for drum notation.
Inspiration: “I started playing the drums last summer and struggled with the concept of note values, which made reading sheet music difficult. Drawing out blocks and tiles helped me understand, so I decided to make a digital version.”
How she learned to code: Her school’s coding club and the app Hopscotch
Tech trend she’s most excited about: Artificial intelligence and machine learning. “I love the idea of computers learning and adapting through experience. I’m sure we could make people’s lives better with this, and I’m excited to learn more about it during WWDC this year.”
Hometown: Ichalkaranji, India
Winning Swift playground: CryptoCam explores how machine learning can be used to create cipher algorithms to encrypt and decrypt data.
Inspiration: “It was a completely random thought! I was writing a blog post on simplified authorization and authentication.”
How he learned to code: YouTube, Udemy, and connecting with other developers on social media
Tech trend he’s most excited about: “I am super-excited about augmented reality and virtual reality. I think they are the future of game development.”
Hometown: Hoylake, UK
Winning Swift playground: Speed uses flash cards as a game element to help people learn quickly.
Inspiration: To make a free flash card resource that’s accessible to all
How they learned to code: Online research, school classes, and Hacking With Swift
Tech trend they’re most excited about: “Increasing LGBTQ+ representation in the industry. There are a lot of opportunities to connect.”