By Iryna Shkurhan | [email protected]
What started off as nudges from his mother to sit up straight, turned into a congressional contest win for Vincent Yip who coded a web app that encourages good posture.
The contest, presented by Congresswoman Grace Meng (D) as part of the national Congressional App Challenge, encouraged middle and high school students in Queens to submit original apps demos. Three winners were invited to Meng’s office and received certificates of congressional recognition.
Yip’s app “Sit Straight!”, which won first place, is designed to be downloaded as a chrome extension on computers. By utilizing the webcam camera it alerts users if they are slouching by blurring their screens and sending out a notification reminding them to fix their posture.
In April, Yip will head to Capitol Hill to present his creation to members of Congress alongside other winners in congressional districts across the country. The winning apps will also be featured on the House of Representatives website.
“I’m excited to see what everyone else made and learn from their projects and see what avenues I can explore further,” said Yip who wants to study engineering and computer science in college and pursue other app inventions in the future.
Yip, a lifelong Bayside resident and junior at Townsend Harris High School in Flushing heard about the contest from a fellow student who entered last year. He worked on the code every weekend for almost two months while juggling classes and playing on the varsity tennis team. He also dedicates his time to the Science Olympiad team and is part of the Chinese Culture club.
“The process of creating the app was more exciting than the winning itself,” said Yip. He coded the app using a combination of HTML, CSS, React, TypeScript after being inspired by other online tools that utilize face tracking technology.
“This idea that I had seemed to be original and interesting,” said Yip, who says his reminders to fix his posture served as inspiration. “So I decided to pursue it.”
The contest started in 2015 with the goal of encouraging students to learn how to code and stir inspiration in computer science across the nation. This year set the record for the most participants with 2,707 fully functioning apps entered by students across the nation.
“Proper posture is critical to people’s health and wellbeing, and I commend Vincent for creating this practical and useful app to help people maintain it,” said Congresswoman Meng. “I congratulate him for winning my competition, and look forward to his app representing Queens in the U.S. Capitol and on the House of Representatives’ website.”
In second place came Evan Cedeno, a high school junior in Rego Park, who developed an app that assists people in generating original artwork. Third place went to Isaac Wong, a sophomore from Bayside, who created an app that helps students calculate their grade point average.
Vincent’s mother, Jean Yip, laughed when she first heard Vincent’s proposal for the app and suggested that it might be too difficult to execute. But when Vincent reassured her that it was possible with some extra learning and dedication, she encouraged him to push through.
“I hope he can help others a little bit by using this app,” said Jean, who recalls her own parents correcting her posture. ”It actually saved me a lot of trouble when he had that on, so I said okay, I don’t need to look at you all the time or I don’t need to yell at you.”
In many cultures, good posture is encouraged for its physical and mental health benefits. Some studies found that those who make maintaining good posture a habit are less likely to experience neck and back pain.
While the app is not readily available to the public just yet, Yip hopes to roll it out in the future after he resolves some bugs in the code.
“He’s very driven,” said Jean. “I see him grow and overcome obstacles in school and by developing this app.”