6 Amazing Apps From Latinx Creators
Juan David Cruz Serrano
With his innovate Vhista app, Colombian developer Juan David Cruz Serrano, 26, helps the visually impaired "see" the world around them. "I knew that I needed to regain the motivation to be doing something positive for others, but I still didn't know what," he tells People CHICA. "I was at a time in my life when just looking out the window at my city, I kept thinking about the lack of solidarity, empathy, and even respect for others we have as a society. Especially, I thought about the people we have disabled with our ways of thinking, creating, and building. Image recognition technology began to become popular. Those three things came together, and I began to understand and value that, as engineers, we have the superpower to create companies and applications overnight. With all this, I decided to create virtual eyes, in order to help combat some of that inequality and lack of empathy."
"Vhista is an application that allows the blind and visually impaired to identify and get audio feedback of the objects around them," says Serrano. "The app also allows the user to leverage on 'augmented reality' technologies, to know how far these objects are. Likewise, it uses more advanced 'machine learning' to describe in detail the context of the objects around them." For example: "Blue Car on a street with trees" or "donut" (shown here).
Female Tech Whizzes
"Hurricane Maria inspired us to create BookSloth out of the necessity we felt to connect with people," Lincy Ayala, 28, tells People CHICA of the app she created with fellow Puerto Rican friend Xiomara Figueroa, 28. "After the hurricane, we didn’t have phone service or internet for weeks or electricity for months. As book lovers, we turned to books as an escape from our reality at the time and saw the importance of having books and the value of connecting with others through our love for reading."
"We are creating a hub specific for the young adult book community. We show our users other readers like them, with a list of books in common and help them connect. Reading can be a solitary activity, but when people read and share love for the same characters and stories is a great way to connect," Ayala adds about her app. "Reading is important in many ways, it helps people grow emotionally, mentally, and psychologically. Reading can provide a sense of belonging and can increase people's empathy or compassion by giving readers a different view on the world and the lives of others. BookSloth improves the book discoverability process, allowing readers to discover books they might not hear about otherwise and providing a space for young adult readers to have important discussions."
Eduardo Della Maggiora
Chilean engineer Eduardo della Maggiora, 39, created the Burn to Give app to encourage users to live healthier lives, while positively impacting the lives of others in underserved communities around the world. "I studied industrial engineering, with a minor in computer science. I’ve always been fascinated with technology and its impact on society," he tells People CHICA. "Back in college in the late '90s, health-tech devices were just beginning to emerge and were mainly focused on medical uses. When smartphones and wearables entered the scene, the market expanded into fitness, nutrition, meditation, and multiple aspects of well-being. So it was a natural choice to design an app which combined well-being and social impact in one simple solution."
Burn to Give App
"Burn to Give is a personalized well-being platform with a mission of helping people live healthier, happier lives. We encourage good habits and healthy behaviors — such as exercise, eating healthy, and meditation — by rewarding our users with charitable giving and wellness rewards. Burn to Give was born as a result of combining my two greatest passions in life: giving back and well-being," Della Maggiora says. "We developed a Netflix-type well-being subscription that encourages healthy living by converting your good habits — such as exercising, meditating, eating healthy, and going for a walk — into tangible social impact such as feeding a child, planting a tree, or giving access to clean water to families in need. We use game mechanics and behavioral science to drive these habit changes with a unique differentiator of using purpose as a motivator. We use complex data science and machine learning to automatically track and reward individual good habits with charitable donations and wellness rewards."
"I have a major in visual arts. I have drawn and painted on walls ever since I can remember, so I think your career path should be passion-driven, rather than focused on your future job," Colombian developer Margarita Acosta, 35, the co-creator of Typic app, tells People CHICA. "I would advise other female developers to pursue their passion no matter what. The developer world — like many other fields — tends to be male-dominated, but this is totally absurd. I’ve loved technology all my life and even though my passion revolves around arts and design, I couldn’t be prouder that I work in the tech world."
"We are three founders: Steve Urrego, Julián Urrego, and myself," Acosta says of the company Hi Mom Developers, through which they created the apps Typic and Fabulous Cuentos y Cantos. "Julián and Steve are brothers and I used to work with Julián in an ad agency in Bogotá. He was a copywriter and I was a graphic designer. This was back in 2012, when Julián and Steve had this idea of starting a company to build our own apps, out of our shared love for technology. That’s basically how we started!"
About the Typic app, Acosta adds: "We decided we should build an app to design texts over photos … this was back in 2012, so it wasn’t something that was around! Nowadays it’s hard to stand out from the crowd. Typic was successful from the very beginning. I remember we joked around expecting about 20 downloads and got 1,500 on the first day, and this number grew very quickly. We were getting downloads from all around the world!"
Fabulous Cuentos y Cantos App
"Fabulous Cuentos y Cantos is our new app," Acosta says. "It’s an audio player with original short musical stories for children aimed at starting conversations around relevant issues such as emotional learning, anger management, diversity, self-esteem, and compassion. The characters are based on Latin American endangered species. We teamed up with a great audio studio called SoundLab, and have great musical and vocal talents helping us create the stories and songs."
Cuban American education and management expert Maxeme Tuchman, 38, co-founded the Caribu app with Spanish engineer Alvaro Sabido. "We built this for kids to be able to have a virtual playdate with a trusted friend or family member," Tuchman tells People CHICA about the video-calling app, which allows kids to draw, play games, color, and read books while they do video calls with their favorite adults. The app has brought many grandparents closer to their grandchildren by providing this playful interaction.
"A video call is definitely a step above a phone call, but for a child it’s still really boring," Tuchman says. "Grandma doesn’t really know what’s going on in their life, so she asks them: 'How is school, how was your day? Are you still fighting with Jackie? Did you eat something?' And the kid just runs away! There is nothing to keep them engaged and entertained. What we have been hearing from parents during the pandemic is that finally the child is engaged in a video call with grandma, which has never happened before. We create magical moments between different generations."