3D4Medical create apps that allow users to effortlessly navigate 360° views of the human body. They are ideal for biology and medical students studying anatomy. The company has enjoyed enormous success with over five million app downloads world wide. The iMuscle app (for iPhone and iPad) has achieved great popularity among sports enthusiasts and gym instructors, even appearing in one of Apple’s famed keynote speeches, while the Heart Pro iPad app was described by Apple VP, Michael Tchao, as one of the best apps ever.
In today installment of Developing Minds Want to Know, we talk to 3D4Medical’s CEO, John Moore (who we’ve chatted to before) about the company’s approach to medical app development, how he harnesses innovation and how 3D4Medical generates awareness about their apps.
Key Company Facts:
Name and Title: John Moore, CEO
Location: Dublin, Ireland.
Size (Revenue and/or Employees): 20 employees
Primary Apps/Platforms: Medical anatomy apps for iOS
APPOLICIOUS: What inspired you to become an app creator?
JOHN MOORE: 3D4Medical was originally the largest 3D medical stock image company in the world. We had spent many years developing 3D models and images to create this stock image library. During the early stages of financial crisis in 2008 we were given an added impetus to adjust our company strategy – and as we had all these 3D assets it didn’t take us long to see that we should use some of them to develop medical apps.
Here’s a short video from 3D4Medical showing off the extraordinary features of the iPad version of iMuscle:
APPO: How long have you been developing apps, and what is the most significant difference between now and when you began?
JM: We have been developing apps for nearly four years now. I suppose the main difference is that we have gotten so much better at developing – in the beginning we were just learning like everyone else. For us it’s all about innovation – you have to keep on pushing the limits of what can be done.
APPO: What apps (outside of those that you develop) inspire you the most and why?
JM: I’m a big fan of the latest heart rate monitoring apps from the likes of Azumio and Cardiio, I think these have enormous practical implications for mHeath and mobile technology. These apps will let you record your pulse at various stages throughout the day or over the course of a week, and when you finally get around to your checkup with your doctor, this information could be invaluable.
APPO: Where do you see the most innovation in the app sector?
JM: I think we’ll see most innovation in the fields of education and mobile health. Given that we have been at the forefront of these sectors our experience has shown us the boundless opportunities and possibilities that still exist in these areas.
APPO: How do you harness that innovation in your own titles?
JM: We really like to listen very closely to what our customers are saying to us, many of the updates and changes made to our apps have come to us this way and this user driven innovation has in turn kept our customers happy.
In terms of our internal innovation process we are very conscious of designing great interfaces to make the best of the high quality content available to us. Innovation is geared towards making apps as interactive as and practical as possible.
APPO: In such a crowded space, explain how you generate awareness and drive downloads to your applications.
JM: The best way to maintain a high level of awareness is to have developed quality apps in the first instance. In our experience having a quality driven approach makes sure that our apps appear consistently in the top 10 of their respective categories on iTunes App Store as a result.
Another means in which we have driven downloads is by maintaining a social media presence, this allows us to know and interact with how customers are using our apps. We came across a really interesting story of a teacher in India using our apps in an underprivileged school, he was teaching the kids basic anatomy in English and they really responded to the new teaching tools. Apple were really excited to see the impact the iPad and our apps were having on the kids learning and decided to cover the story at the recent WWDC. Being featured at events like this is invaluable.
APPO: What are the biggest technical constraints that exist today in the app sector?
JM: Processing power is always an issue, as are the changing specs of devices. iOS updates can also be unforgiving especially when there is a host of apps which all need to be updated to be fully compatible with the latest iOS.
APPO: How do you (or will you) make money from your application?
JM: We sell directly to users with a clearly priced product. Our apps range from $1.99 to $49 dollars at present depending on a number of factors. We have recently begun selling some apps with premium content such as extra animations relating to pathologies and diseased states, however the purpose of these in-app purchases is to supply specific content to certain customers and not to compromise the functionality of our apps in any way.
APPO: What advice do you have to those working on their first applications?
JM: Make it different – it has to be innovative to get attention.
APPO: Where do you see the app sector one year from now? Five years from now?
JM: I think the app sector will be several times bigger in five years – however the competition will be 10 times more – so it will be more and more difficult to break in and make money for new developers.