This month, we’ve selected Raghu Ram, Russell Ong, and Pan Ng from reQall Inc. as the Qualcomm Developers of the Month. They’ve recently launched reqallable for the Qualcomm® Toq™ smartwatch, using the Qualcomm Toq SDK. The smartwatch app displays the most important parts of messages, like emails and texts, prioritizes messages from important contacts and sends prompts when it’s time to leave for appointments.
Raghu, Russell and Pan answered some questions for us so you can learn about the work they do and what inspires them.
Can you tell us about your company and the apps you develop?
We’re a global company. Pan and Russell work in Singapore, and Raghu works in India. All of us travel to California for weeks or months at a time to work with our team there. We develop context-aware, intelligent personal assistants. Our key underlying technology is based on machine-learning algorithms that determine what matters most in your email and text messages. We’re very focused on wearable devices because the technology is so valuable there. You can get just the important parts of emails rather than everything, and respond right from the watch.
What makes your company culture unique?
We are very agile and not tied down to any particular spec. Ideas are implemented very quickly so that we can try them out internally and give feedback. There is minimal hierarchy in the company. Everyone can voice their ideas, opinions and concerns openly.
When did you start programming and what interested you about developing apps?
Pan: I made my first mobile application in 2005. It was a BlackBerry app that allows you to send fax via email. I found that having my own program running on my phone fascinating. You are never too far away from your own invention, and you can always test and improve your own work.
Raghu: I started programming during my early college days and chose it for my profession in 2007. I created an outline of my favorite deity using basics of C and the outcome really fascinated me.
Russell: I started developing mobile apps back in 2007 with iOS. At that time iOS was a fairly new technology, and I was interested to learn new stuff.
If you weren’t a developer, what profession would you have chosen?
Pan: I would have been an accountant or an actuary. I wasn’t happy about picking computer science at first, but now I am so glad I did it. You can pretty much automate a lot of jobs with software nowadays.
Raghu: I would have taken up painting as I was always passionate towards painting since my childhood.
Russell: I would have been an astronaut.
What advice would you give to other developers?
Pan: Be aware of the resource constraints on a mobile device and always consider the big O. Always try out new ideas and learn from other developers. Always be aware of software anti-patterns.
Raghu: In my perspective, developers should develop two pivotal characteristics. One is the ability to refresh their knowledge base as technology is something which keeps evolving every day. The other thing is the ability to be patient towards criticism related to your work.
Russell: Don't be afraid to fail, and don't forget to learn from failures.
What do you love about developing mobile apps?
Pan: I love it because it is generally the fastest way to get an idea out. No hardware required (other than the device). Integrating your app with a lot of these sensors on mobile devices can create some really interesting applications.
Where do you and your team get inspiration for your work?
Raghu: Inspiration for our work certainly comes from the guys at our company who keep bringing innovative ideas. These ideas and some path-breaking technologies being released in the market drives us ahead.
Who are your technology heroes?
Pan: Matias Duarte and Andy Rubin, for bringing Android to its current form. Compared to what it was back in 2.x.x, the interface and user-experience had come a long way.
Raghu: Yukihiro Matsumoto, chief designer of the Ruby programming language. Ruby is simple in appearance, but is very complex inside, just like our human body.
Russell: David Heinemeier Hansson, creator of the Ruby on Rails web development framework. His ideas on development process are quite inspiring.
Where do you see the mobile industry in 10 years?
Russell: I think phones will be reduced into the size of credit cards. Also, holographic communication might become a reality.