iPad app for Royal Holloway University study into macular degeneration


Macular degeneration is a painless eye condition that leads to the gradual loss of central vision. Central vision is used to see what is directly in front of you, when reading or watching television for example. The central vision becomes increasingly blurred leading to symptoms including difficulty reading printed or written text (because it appears blurry, less vibrant colours and difficulty recognising people’s faces.

Humboldt was invited to join a project to build an iPad app to test ‘eccentric viewing’, which scrolls the text at a steady pace through the reader’s peripheral vision, enabling those with macular degeneration to read text.

Working in conjunction with a team at Royal Holloway University, we used iOS app development technology to build an app, which was aimed at medical researchers working on macular degeneration, as well as patients investigating the approach themselves.

The app was preloaded with sample ebooks, and more could be downloaded from the web.

Working with Humboldt

Professor Robin Walker, who headed up the project at the university said: “It was extremely useful to work with a company with knowledge relating to the wide range of challenges involved in this project.

“A number of decisions needed to be made because the initial specification had not been worked out in detail. With Humboldt’s guidance, these issues were quickly resolved. The choices proved to be sensible as the final version of the app fulfils all our requirements. Humboldt challenged us to think differently and suggested considerations such as the best way of programming the app and iPad features so they would be most useful. Their knowledge of digital publishing, digital rights management, and releasing an app via Apple, was invaluable.

“With their input we were able explore possibilities, such as voice activation, and then choose whether or not to use these techniques as we went along. There was a clear advantage to working with people you could sit down with to discuss the initial ideas, test prototypes, and make changes to the initial specification.

“I really enjoyed the relaxed and informal way we worked together with regular communication by email and in person. Most meetings were quite brief and enabled us to develop the ideas and the app from scratch. Humboldt then confirmed decisions in writing and gave us detailed costings broken down into stages. Any teething problems were quickly resolved and I had complete confidence in the company’s ability to produce a working app that could be released on iTunes.”

The result

The app was successfully launched and is available through the App Store. Professor Walker has received further grants to pursue the work. Click here to find out more about the app


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