October 3, 2023
ROBBINSVILLE, NJ (MERCER)–They’re a trio of teenage techies.
Proof of their talent is “MyCrohnicles,” a new free mobile app they created, now available for Google Android and Apple iOS smartphones and tablets.
MyCrohnicles is the handiwork of Robbinsville High School senior Udhirna Krishnamurthy, 17; and her brother Svadrut, 13, an 8th-grader at Robbinsville’s Pond Road Middle School.
It’s the brainchild of their cousin, Shravan Rajagopal, a 17-year-old senior at East High School in West Chester, PA.
The purpose of MyCrohnicles: Help an estimated 3.1 million Americans with Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis to better manage their diets and lifestyles. “There are millions more people worldwide who may also benefit from our MyCrohnicles app,” Udhirna Krishnamurthy said.
Unlike most app-makers, these whiz kids aren’t in it for money.
“We want to help people; people like our family members afflicted with Crohn’s and colitis,” says Shravan Rajagopal, speaking for the trio. “We did not create this app to make money.”
Any profit the trio might make from their app “we would gladly donate to the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation,” Udhirna adds, referring to a Manhattan-based volunteer-driven non-profit organization. “Our goal is to simply help others.”
A year in development, MyCrohnicles finally hit Google Play and Apple App stores this summer.
HOW IT WORKS
MyCrohnicles allows people afflicted with Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis to “track and monitor their diet, exercise regiment, and bowel movements, and share that data with their physicians,” Udhirna explained.
This allows users to “understand what foods and personal behaviors work best for them,” she said. “It enables people to better manage their diets, exercises and lifestyles.”
MyCrohnicles lets users to enter their daily breakfasts, lunches, dinners and snacks; the frequency of their workouts; their bowel movements; and answer questions about how their body reacts to various food; how they feel after meals, after exercise or other daily activities.
“In a short time, it builds a user’s guide for healthier living,” Svadrut said.
Sounds simple enough.
But, there were some design challenges along the way, the teenaged trio explained.
For instance, they wanted the design for MyCrohnicles to be easy for any potential user, yet sophisticated enough to build an individualized model for each person’s diet and exercise routine, Udhirna said.
As the app designer, Udhirna insisted it be visually appealing, intuitive and give users quick, easy access to their data, minimizing excessive button-clicking or complicated navigation.
In short, she says: “I wanted the user interface to be simple and streamlined, providing a holistic view of their well-being.”
Coding the app posed other challenges.
“Each of us is into computer science and coding,” Udhirna said, quickly crediting her younger brother for collaborating with her on the app’s coding.
Svadrut learned coding basics in school, modestly adding: “The rest of what I needed to know was self-taught.” Sometimes, he said, that happened by trial-and-error.
His toughest challenge was to code MyCrohnicles to smoothly conform with Google’s Android and Apple’s iOS operating systems. Android is the world’s most common smartphone platform, used by many phone manufacturers. iOS is used only on Apple devices, like its iPhone.
“They are very different from one another, and require different coding. We wanted our app to look and feel the same on each,” Svadrut said. “That was a challenge.”
Once those hurdles were cleared, the teens had to leap through a few legal hoops to get their app published and publicly available. Their proud parents stepped in to help with those aspects.
A FAMILY INSPIRATION
Not only is MyCrohnicles family-made, it is also family-inspired.
Shravan candidly explains he was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease at age seven, and his father, Praveen Rajagopal, has been coping with ulcerative Colitis long before that.
Shravan is on medication, but his parents also encouraged him to consider alternative treatments and diets. At one point, “I was simultaneously vegan, gluten-free, sugar-free, and oil-free, basically only eating rice and vegetables,” he said.
He learned to be mindful about nutrition, and he used a number of diet-tracking apps, quickly realizing they were sadly insufficient. Shravan says he needed “a more personalized lifestyle app,” but said none were available.
Certain he wasn’t alone, Shravan spoke to his cousins. “With our combined expertise, we hit the ground running in July 2022 to develop MyCrohnicles,” noting that he also came up with the app’s catchy name.
Udhirna and Svadrut designed, developed, and brought the app to life, while Shravan handled the communications and marketing side.
ABOUT ITS CREATORS
Undoubtedly, Udhirna and Svadrut, and their cousin, Shravan, are brilliant kids and, perhaps, tomorrow’s technocrats. But, they say, there is much more to life.
They are outgoing, well-rounded and altruistic.
Udhirna is a member of Robbinsville High’s “Girls Who Code” club and its robotics team. She plays on the school’s tennis team, and has a true passion for music.
Since age five, Udhirna has been a classical Carnatic singer, performing traditional music of Southern India at Hindu temples across New Jersey. “Singing brings me joy,” she said.
Svadrut expects to pursue a tech career, but he also has many outside interests. Like his sister, Svadrut is a Carnatic singer and an avid tennis player. He plays alto saxophone for Robbinsville’s marching band, and plays guitar to relax.
Their cousin, Shravan, plays varsity tennis for East High School’s Vikings and competed in regional tennis playoffs for his school.
Shravan is a member of his high school’s business club, and is active in Eastern Pennsylvania’s regional DECA Inc., a national organization for emerging leaders and entrepreneurs interested in marketing, finance, and management.
Shravan Rajagopal (left), Svadrut Krishnamurthy (middle), and Udhirna Krishnamurthy (right) working on their app