Feeds

Over The Air: Losing drones and forging bus tickets

There's nothing the iPhone can't do

Securing Web Applications Made Simple and Scalable

Mobile applications might have gone professional, but London's Over The Air event this weekend proved that nothing is more innovative than an over-caffeinated developer working for glory not money.

Over the Air is an annual gathering where developers are invited to spend 36 hours creating the best mobile application they can, for very little reward, while mingling with some of the brightest minds in the industry and drinking heroic quantities of coffee.

The free event at Imperial College maintained a relaxed weekend feel - but with a firm conviction that great things would be done. Epically pointless things, as it turns out, like creating iPope app with a target audience of one, or a Lego robot that follows a face, or the aforementioned (forged) bus tickets. But great things none the less.

This year was a little more business-orientated, with seminars about how to pitch your business to VCs and get the best deal on embedded advertising. On Saturday Nokia‘s Pawan Gandhi gave a rather uninspired talk on the way that mobile apps (Nokia‘s Life Tools) are improving the lives of millions of people in the developing word. Contrasting nicely with Tim Berners-Lee, who talked with enormous enthusiasm about the semantic web, which has yet to touch most of us.

But all that was peripheral to the main business of creating apps, and on Saturday afternoon almost 30 teams were given 90 seconds each to present their creation...

Top points went to the Lobster - an innovative application that places a picture of an Oyster card on the screen and beeps when you tap it. London commuters might already see the value of such a thing: when one boards a London bus one presents an Oyster card at the machine, which beeps to say the card is acceptable - the driver just listens to the beeps, thus the Lobster can provide the same functionality without incurring the cost.

This is hardly likely to get past Apple‘s stringent requirements for listing, obviously, but that‘s not the point of Over the Air.

The Cleaner is marginally more commercial, and removes all the icons from an Android phone so one can show off the desktop wallpaper properly. The Cleaner got bonus points for having been finished at two in the morning and uploaded to the Android Marketplace. It had been downloaded 400 times before judging began.

Technically more challenging was the iPhone/Lego interface, facilitated by flashing colours on the iPhone screen, enabling the phone to guide a Lego robot towards a face.

Other applications used the #blue API from Telefonica (which provides access to historical SMS information) to automatically translate text and manage to-do lists, among other things.

Most visually impressive was the Parrot AR Drone. This was not really a hack at all, rather a commercial flying drone, controllable from an iPhone as long as the Wi-Fi lasts, which it didn‘t. That left the drone hovering over the audience while the developers tried climbing on chairs and jumping to retrieve it.

Few of the applications shown at Over the Air have any commercial value, but that‘s not the point - the event is supposed to show that amazing things can be done in remarkable time if the knowledge is there and the atmosphere is right. Once again Over the Air proves that, and provides a free bus ride home. ®

Bridging the IT gap between rising business demands and ageing tools

More from The Register

next story
NO MORE ALL CAPS and other pleasures of Visual Studio 14
Unpicking a packed preview that breaks down ASP.NET
Secure microkernel that uses maths to be 'bug free' goes open source
Hacker-repelling, drone-protecting code will soon be yours to tweak as you see fit
KDE releases ice-cream coloured Plasma 5 just in time for summer
Melty but refreshing - popular rival to Mint's Cinnamon's still a work in progress
Cheer up, Nokia fans. It can start making mobes again in 18 months
The real winner of the Nokia sale is *drumroll* ... Nokia
Put down that Oracle database patch: It could cost $23,000 per CPU
On-by-default INMEMORY tech a boon for developers ... as long as they can afford it
Another day, another Firefox: Version 31 is upon us ALREADY
Web devs, Mozilla really wants you to like this one
Google shows off new Chrome OS look
Athena springs full-grown from Chromium project's head
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Seven Steps to Software Security
Seven practical steps you can begin to take today to secure your applications and prevent the damages a successful cyber-attack can cause.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.