London Hackathon Designed to Bring NFC Apps Closer to Market Launch
Organizers of a recent NFC hackathon in London gave “kick-starter” funds to two teams of app developers and handed out other awards, all in an effort to bring the apps closer to a market launch.
The Isobar Create London event, held March 24 and 25, followed two other NFC hackathons–or developer competitions–organized last fall by digital advertising agency Isobar. But unlike these events, in Boston and San Francisco, the 34-hour London competition had some major commercial backers, led by mobile operator Telefónica UK, or O2.
Handset makers Samsung and Research In Motion, Web giant Google, breakfast cereal and snack food maker Kellogg’s, sporting goods brand Adidas and payment network Visa were also among the sponsors.
The sponsorship and funding is designed to bring the winning apps to market sooner, said Neil Garner, CEO of NFC platform provider Proxama, which also was a co-sponsor of the event.
“The plan is to be able to roll them (winning applications) out, not just demo them,” he told NFC Times.
Proxama provided one of the kick-starter funds, an in-kind contribution of £10,000 (US$15,890), which went to a development team named Blue Butterfly for its “Tap-to-WiFi” app. The app uses NFC to allow consumers to tap to quickly open a WiFi connection in bars, cafés, hotels, airports and other commercial establishments. The funding will help develop the app further to prepare it for a possible market launch.
Tap-to-WiFi, like the other winning apps, including one that earned kick-starter funding from Telefónica that makes queuing at amusement parks more convenient, are not new ideas. But they add some new features or functionality to similar NFC apps already developed elsewhere.
For example, with the Tap-to-WiFi app, users can tap an NFC tag in a smart poster in, say, a café to connect their smartphones to a WiFi hotspot. The app then also plugs the users into the café’s Facebook page, where they can receive offers.
The app for queuing at amusement parks also enables users to pay for rides, among other features. It received funding from BlueVia, Telefónica’s development platform.
Another development team, London BBDG, developed a supermarket-shopping app, enabling users to scan products from the shelf and pay. RIM gave the team an all-expenses-paid trip to the BlackBerry Jam 10 conference in Orlando, Fla.
Developer teams also won recognition for other apps in four categories, sponsored by the various brands, such as Kellogg's, Adidas and Visa. The categories included retail, sports and leisure and finance.
All told, 65 developers from five countries participated in the hackathon.