NYU Steinhardt News

Steinhardt Alumna Wins NYU Mobile App Contest

Maggie Jiayan Li (MA ’17), an alumna from the Digital Media Design for Learning (DMDL) master’s program, won NYU’s Mobile App Contest for her app RunOn – an audio application that encourages running through storytelling. As the contest winner, Maggie is working with design and marketing company Messapps to develop her app, which is scheduled for release in the App Store this fall. We spoke with Maggie to learn more about the motivation and process behind building RunOn.

Can you describe your app Run On and what it intends to achieve?

RunOn is an audio running app with adaptive stories. Each story adventure is a training cycle and each chapter personalizes the storyline based on runner’s real-time physical data. It’s designed to get people off the couch and engage them in running at a scientific pace for better performance and low chance of injury.

What prompted you to create RunOn, and what do you hope to achieve with this app?

As a running-hater myself, I wanted to find a way to make running fun and easy in order to get people moving, even when they don’t have a knowledge of how to pace themselves. There are a lot of running apps on the market, but not everyone is motivated by progress bars or health data. I figured, why not apply what hooks people into binge watching TV—good storytelling, suspense, and a bit of escape from everyday life—to binge walking, jogging, or running in a quest to transform a city into a virtual hunt or escape from the walking deads?

How did Steinhardt help you in brainstorming and developing the idea for Run On?

The original idea was actually a weekly assignment from one of my favorite courses in Steinhardt – Narrative, Digital Media, and Learning – taught by Professor Emily Reardon. The project was then refined and developed as my thesis capstone under the advisement of Professor Ralph Vacca. My DMDL classmates were also helpful in providing feedback, conducting user testing, and sharing good resources. Actually, I should say the whole DMDL program, from professors to peers, was very supportive in helping every student work on their thesis.

Congratulations Maggie!