Programmer develops app to help grandmother

  Friday, January 23, 2015 2:00 AM

Pittsburg, KS

Programmer develops app to help grandmother

Like many serious computer programmers, John Kuefler started young.

“I’ve been programming since I was 12 or 13,” said Kuefler, a Pitt State grad who now works in the university’s Office of Information Systems. “It’s been a lifelong love for me.”

The first program he developed was a random number generator his father needed for drawings and giveaways at work. He was 14.

He’s since developed a variety of other programs and apps, including an app he created for his infant daughter.

“It’s a game called Critter Farm, and I developed it before she was born,” he said. “Its main function is to promote critical thinking and help develop those skills.”

His most recently published application also has a family connection. Kuefler, along with his father, developed the Simplicity Center iPad app that is designed to help senior citizens navigate the Web and email in a safe, secure manner.

The idea for the app came about after it was determined that Kuefler’s grandmother had been “scammed” into paying a monthly fee to a credit report company.

“My dad went to visit my grandmother and noticed that she was paying this fee each month, but she didn’t know why,” he said. “We found out she was scammed by a website that she shouldn’t have trusted. That’s when we started thinking about developing an app that could help her be safer online.”

The app features big, colorful buttons that are beneficial to the elderly, particularly those, like his grandmother, who suffer from dementia.

The app is set up by an administrator – usually a relative or caregiver – who sets up the features to meet the specific needs of the user. Once set up, the user’s entire online experience, from web browsing to email, is handled through the app.

“In this way, the administrator can help ensure that the user doesn’t get on to any untrusted websites or is receiving and answering emails from spam addresses,” Kuefler said.

Calendar reminders can also be set up in the app, which helps the user remember tasks such as taking medicine or paying bills.

Kuefler said his grandmother, who was the inspiration for the app, “seems to like it.”

“We designed it around her needs, so hopefully it’s working just the way she needs it to,” he said.

While Kuefler wrote the programming for the app, his father, John Kuefler Sr., handles the marketing. An article about the app has been featured on PBS’s Next Avenue website and on the website for Forbes Magazine.

“The app launched a few months ago, so we’re just now starting to get the word out,” he said. “We’re hoping that it catches on, because we truly believe this could help a lot of people.”

The Simplicity Center app is $4.99 in the Apple App Store. 

Kuefler earned a bachelor’s degree in computer information systems from Pittsburg State in 2012 and a master’s degree in business administration from PSU in 2013. 



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