With an eye on the food allergy community as a unique group of consumers since 2008, we're on a quest to find and share ways to continue enjoying the good things in life.

11 October 2016

Food Allergy Folks You Should Know About: Adam Foot, creator of AllergyMe

As a high school teacher, it is always exciting to hear about a motivated and creative young person. Several months ago, I received a tweet from Adam Foot of Swindon (England) telling me about his app and asking me to share it. Adam recently began his first year of college, but took a few minutes before classes began, to chat with Food Allergy Buzz about himself, his peanut allergy, and the apps he has created. A big thank you goes out to Adam for reaching out to Food Allergy Buzz and sharing his work with us.

FAB: Please tell us about your connection to food allergies
Adam: At the age of three, I was diagnosed with a peanut allergy after coming up in hives from eating a peanut. Since then, I have avoided peanuts as much as possible. In October 2015, I decided to take part in the BOPI (Boiled Oral Peanut Immunotherapy) study at St Mary’s Hospital in London. Unfortunately I reacted too strongly to the lowest dosage of peanut (1/8th of a whole peanut) they could give me so I wasn’t allowed to continue with the study. Despite this, I gained more knowledge about my allergy and what to look out for when having a reaction. What was most striking was the difference between a mild and severe reaction. Although it felt severe (very strong stomach pains, hives & swollen face/lips), this is medically only classed as a mild reaction so an EpiPen is not used to treat this and instead, antihistamine is used.

FAB: Tell us a little about you manage your allergies.
Adam: To ensure I’m as safe as I can be, I make sure I always take my EpiPen (I’ve never had to use it so far) out with me so if I were to go into anaphylaxis then I’d have my EpiPen there to help me. When shopping, I also make sure I double check the ingredients of food that I’m buying - especially new foods! When eating out, I check with the kitchen staff to make sure the food that I have ordered is safe to eat.

FAB: Tell us about the AllergyMe app you created.
Adam: AllergyMe is a medical ID application which caters for the needs of allergy sufferers, like myself. Unlike other medical ID applications, this includes specific sections that only apply to allergy sufferers, such as mild & severe reactions. Upon launching, the app instantly displays the users medical ID. By tapping the alarm button in the top left corner, the phone plays a loud siren noise that will alert people nearby to the sound and will be able to see the person’s medical ID - key in an emergency. Also contained within the app, is a section that allows the user to create a lock screen wallpaper with all of the key details on it and a photograph of themselves so that those in attendance can see things like allergies and contacts without even unlocking the phone. Furthermore, the Apple Watch app (compatible with the iPhone iOS app) allows for the alarm to be activated remotely and the medical ID to be shown on the watch too. As well as this app, I have also created AllergyMe Translate which is a translation app for allergy sufferers. Within the app, users can choose a number of set phrases or allergens to be translated into other languages. After that, restaurant staff can also use a phrase in their language to reply with. If a phrase or language is unavailable then Google Translate is embedded into the app to ensure the app is not needed to be switched, which can be inconvenient at the time. 

FAB: How did you get the idea?
Adam: After not being successful with the BOPI research study, I decided that I really wanted to help other allergy sufferers. At the time, I was learning to develop apps and had already created an allergy medical ID app for my phone and Apple Watch. I decided that others could benefit from this application and decided to give it a name and release it onto the app store, once I had made it more user friendly. This was a very basic version of the one that is on the App Store today. 

FAB: How long did it take you? Adam: Overall the first version took a few weeks to make as I had to learn new things to be able to add the features that I wanted to create (such as storing user data rather than static text that had my details on). Since releasing the very first version, I have updated the app over 20 times by adding new features and improved user interfaces: most recently including Touch ID support for editing settings and a new contact layout. AllergyMe is very much still a work in progress with new features being added constantly. A few months ago, I decided to also release AllergyMe for Android after learning to make apps for that platform too. 

FAB: I see you have designed other apps. Tell us about them.
Adam: As I have already mentioned, I have another app - AllergyMe Translate (available on iOS, Android & Macs) - but I have also developed many more. On the App Store I have a total of 13 apps and 5 apps on both the Google Play Store and Mac App Store. I have developed an app similar to AllergyMe called MedicalMe which includes all of the same features but is catered for people with all medical conditions. I have another 3 medical apps (MediCall, MediWear & RequestSOS) which are all broken down versions of AllergyMe/MedicalMe. These apps are available on both iOS and Android. I am more confident with making apps for iOS and Mac since I have been creating them for much longer. One app that has proved popular is UniClip which is a universal clipboard application where you can copy text from one Apple device and have it appear on another. The rest of my apps are mainly for entertainment, with apps such as Cipher being used to encrypt and decrypt messages using a special key. 

FAB:What are your plans for the future? Where can we expect to see you and your work?
Adam: Currently I am unsure as to what I want to do in the future but I do know that it will be technology related! I have just left secondary school and am about to start college to study IT & Software Development. In the meantime, I plan to continue developing apps, update my existing ones and see what happens from there! 

FAB: What advice do you have for other young people with food allergies? 
Adam: My main piece of advice for other young people who have food allergies is to ALWAYS carry your medication! It might seem like a waste of time but if the worst were to happen, you’d be thankful for it in an emergency. My other advice is to always make sure you know what’s in the food you’re eating; whether that be eating out or eating from a packet - make sure you know the ingredients! Even if something says may contain, it’s not worth the risk of eating. I know from experience that it doesn’t take a lot of the allergen to have an allergic reaction that could be fatal.
It was really an honor to chat with Adam and learn more about his work. You can see he has a bright future! We wish Adam much success in his studies and look forward to hearing about his next projects. To view all of Adam's apps, please visit Adam's iOS/Mac apps or Adam's android apps.

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