Singapore Students Create App That Rewards You For Ignoring Your Phone

But is Apple Tree poison for digital ads?

An industry trade group in the city-state of Singapore is behind a new mobile phone app that will curl the toes of digital advertising companies.

In an effort to get smartphone users to stop staring at their devices and start talking to one another, the Singapore Computer Society awarded $24,000 to three students who developed an app that immobilizes handsets when two or more smartphones are placed together.

The app is called Apple Tree because an image of a tree begins sprouting on the mobile screen if the phones remain untouched. Apples grow on the tree and can be harvested and exchanged for rewards like discounts at local shops. The longer the phone is ignored, the more apples grow and the more can be harvested.

The app will be available as a free download to celebrate Singapore's 50th birthday next year. It was the winner of the Splash Awards that judged entries on the theme: "Bringing Singaporeans Closer Together."

Apple Tree, however, may be poison to companies trying to make a digital advertising footprint in the region.

Singapore has invested $23 million to develop digital advertising, and Internet advertising is forecast to grow there, according to PWC, which predicts digital ads will account for $264 million by 2018.