Award-winning app leads to other opportunities for enterprising UB student

In the expanding world of technology, we often hear stories of startups or ideas that come out of nowhere to gain prominence and popularity.

Arthur De Araujo, a computer science major heading into his junior year at the University at Buffalo, is looking for that next great idea. And he just may find it.

At the midway point of his undergraduate studies, De Araujo has already created an award-winning phone application titled Lecture Buddy, while continuing to work on several passion projects.

He has maintained an interest in the creation and adaptation of applications for several years, and pours his time into ideas that can be both entertaining and inspiring.

“It all started for me making websites,” De Araujo stated. “My first useful website was made for my band teacher in high school. We had to submit videos of ourselves playing music, so I made a website for all of the students to upload their videos. That was my first real taste.

“After that, I realized there was this website called Make Games With Us, now called the Make School. They had a summer program where you could learn how to make IPhone games. Even though I couldn’t afford it (it was nearly $5,000), I applied for a scholarship and got it.

“That summer, I went to the Make School Summer Academy, and that’s where I learned how to make IPhone games. It was a great experience--I was in a room with 50 developers, I made my first IPhone app and really kickstarted my computer science passion.”

After finishing the summer academy, De Araujo continued making IPhone games and eventually started gravitating toward other projects.

“I check out several tech websites every day to see what’s going on, and that kind of inspires me to jot down some new ideas,” De Araujo said. “Some of the tech that I noticed not getting as much attention was speech recognition. I just generated some ideas based on what I saw and developed Lecture Buddy.”

The app, designed for college students to record their professors during lectures, is an easy way to transcribe long talks while still focusing on the orator.

“When the professor is lecturing, if he says any highlighting keywords like 'this is important,' or 'remember,' it will highlight that section automatically for the student,” De Araujo noted. “While focusing on the main goal of the app, I also recognized that it had the potential of helping autistic kids or really anyone who struggled with multitasking in class.”

This realization got him involved with the SPARK autism research program, where he received this year’s Community Award in the SPARK Mobile App Contest.

“When I won the award, it was amazing,” said De Araujo. “I felt like it was my final break, this was my seventh or eighth app and was my best idea, in my opinion.”

With the funding (a $25,000 grant) De Araujo has now been able to not only look into further options with the Lecture Buddy app, but expand his skill set across all platforms.

“My plan after I won the contest was to continue developing Lecture Buddy and to make a website for it,” De Araujo stated. “But because of certain restrictions in the software, it wouldn’t be viable based on cost.

“As I was doing some research, I noticed that I had to use Apple’s speech recognition software. However, there were some restrictions with the software. There was about a five-minute limit to each recording session, so in order to get around that I had to restart the speech recognition software, and there would be a three-second to 30-second delay between each recording.”

Because of these obstacles, De Araujo made the tough decision to put his energy into other ventures, for the time being.

“Although it was helpful for people, I don’t think putting my time into Lecture Buddy would be as beneficial as other ideas,” De Araujo noted. “I just finished the UB Sandbox program, which was a 10-week program to develop a business pitch. I am now pursuing an idea called Open Code, a code livestreaming platform for software developers to share what they are working on.”

The overall goal for Open Code is to have an E Sports section just for coding, coding competitions, and hackathons (24-48-hour coding competitions).

“People think we’re just hacking away, but it’s really just coding,” said De Araujo. “You develop an idea, you join a team if you don’t have one, and the goal is to have everyone livestream what they’re working on and really add to a competitive environment."

With his early successes, De Araujo acknowledges he has many people to thank for the help they have given and guidance he still receives for his new endeavors.

“The UB Blackstone Launchpad and UB Sandbox programs are great places to go for any entrepreneurial venture; they have a lot of connections, which have been very helpful to me,” De Araujo added. “The Buffalo entrepreneurial scene is growing, there are a few startups that have been successful, so I think that Open Code or any other startup would be a great fit for Buffalo.”

De Araujo stated that his goal is to eventually create his own startup. “I’m still deciding whether I should go right into industry, learn the best practices and create a startup afterword. No matter what, I’m still creating new science projects in the hopes of becoming a popular startup here in Buffalo.”

Read more articles by Sean Brock.

A native of Western New York, Brock has worked in the field of writing and public relations over the past several years, while also gaining a master’s degree from Canisius College this May. He has worked for several universities and professional sports teams in a public relations capacity during that time, and has always kept a love for writing. In his free time Brock enjoys hiking, history, reading and watching as many baseball and football games as he can.   
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